Taiping Guangji 太平广记

The longest existing collection of classical novels in China


Chinese Name: 太平广记

English Name: Taiping Guangji

Other Name: Extensive Records of the Taiping Era, Extensive Records of the Taiping Xinguo Period

Author: Compiled by 14 authors, including Li Fang 李昉, Hu Meng 扈蒙, etc

Originally Published: AD 978(Northern Song 北宋)

Genre: Documentary, Novel

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
Taiping Guangji 太平广记

Brief Introduction of Taiping Guangji

Taiping Guangji 太平广记 is the first collection of classical Chinese documentary novels. It was compiled by 14 persons including Li Fang and Hu Meng under the order of Emperor Taizong 宋太宗 of the Song Dynasty.

Because it was written in the Song Dynasty during the reign of Taiping Xingguo 太平兴国, it was called “Taiping Guangji”. The book consists of 500 volumes and 10 volumes of contents. It is a kind of miscellaneous works based on factual stories from the Han Dynasty 汉朝 to the early Song Dynasty.

The book is divided into 92 categories and more than 150 subsections according to the subject matter, with supernatural and strange stories accounting for the largest proportion. The book is basically a collection of ancient stories compiled by category. Many lost books, only in this book memory has lost text, some of the Six dynasties 六朝 strange novels, the Tang Dynasty 唐朝 legendary works, all rely on this book to spread.

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
Volumes 210~214 — Ancient paintings 卷210~214 ——古代的画作

There are many citations in Taiping Guangji, and almost all of the smaller books have been collected. Lost books can also be compiled and restored based on it, and biographical books can also be collated and supplemented with it. In addition, those who study ancient novels must use Taiping Guangji as their basic material.

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
Zhang Junrui meets Cui Yingying 张君瑞会见崔莺莺

Taiping Guangji had a profound influence on Chinese literature and art. After the Song Dynasty, the editors of Huaben 话本 , Quyi 曲艺 and drama adapted many famous stories from the book. Taiping Guangji is a treasure trove of ancient Chinese novels and is well worth reading.

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
The goddess Luo in the fairy scroll 神仙卷中的洛神

Author of Taiping Guangji

The Taiping Guangji was compiled by 14 authors, including Li Fang, Hu Meng, etc.

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
Li Fang 李昉

Li Fang (925- 996) was a native of Raoyang County 饶阳, Hebei Province 河北省. He was the famous phase and litterateur from the Five Dynasties 五代 to the early Northern Song Dynasty.

During the later Han Dynasty, Li Fang passed the Jinshi 进士 examination and was promoted many times. He was cautious in his dealings and did not have a prominent reputation. He advocated amity with the Khitan 契丹 and put down war and peace to the people. In 996, Li Fang died at the age of 72 after falling ill for a few days. Li Fang owned 50 volumes of anthology, which were lost now. Later, he participated in the compilation of three of the four major books of the Song Dynasty, Taiping Yulan 太平御览 , Wenyuan Yinghua 文苑英华 and Taiping Guangji.

Taiping Guangji 太平广记
Hu Meng 扈蒙

Hu Meng (915 — 986) was born in Anchi District 安次, Langfang city廊坊, Hebei Province 河北省. He was a minister of the Northern Song Dynasty. He was kind and did not talk about other people’s wrong and liked Buddhist classics 佛教经典. He died at home in 986, aged 72.

He worked with Li Fang on “The Records of Emperor Taizu 太祖 in Song Dynasty” and” Wen Yuan Yinghua”, and he wrote “Ao Shan Ji”鳌山集

Excerpts From Taiping Guangji


The glowering eyes of Jin Gang and the lowering eyebrows of Bodhisattvas are both to eliminate karma obstacles in the human world and save all living beings from suffering.


The wind can not be tied, the shadow can not be caught, metaphorically impossible to accomplish things.


Although the river is vast, there is still time to meet. The death of a lover, when will there be such a sweet meeting?

Evaluation of Taiping Guangji

“Taiping Guang Ji” includes almost all the novels from the Six Dynasties to the early Song Dynasty. If you study them briefly, you don’t need to buy other books.

Lu Xun 鲁迅

The aesthetic thoughts in Taiping Guangji can be expounded as follows: Meaning breaks through the concrete image and can appreciate more meaning besides the concrete image.

Qian Zhongshu 钱钟书

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