Biji (Chinese literature)

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Biji (Chinese: 筆記) is a genre in classical Chinese literature. Literally "notebook" or "written notes",[1][2] a book of biji can contain anecdotes, quotations, random musings, philological speculations, literary criticism and indeed everything that the author deems worth recording.


The genre first appeared during the Wei and Jin dynasties, and matured during the Tang dynasty. The biji of that period of time mostly contains the believe-it-or-not kind of anecdotes, and many of them can be treated as collections of short fictions. To differentiate this kind of "biji fiction" from the general biji, the former is later called biji xiaoshuo (筆記小說 "notebook fictions").

Biji flourished during the Song dynasty, many works of which adopting an "an item-by-item style and stipulated no further rules for the size, structure, or mutual relations of these items", and continued to flourish during the later dynasties up until the end of the 19th century.[1] According to Ronald Egan, the biji as a genre "served as an alternative to the classical commentary and the formal essay" in traditional Chinese letters and allowed writers to record their reflections or scholarly insights freely.[2]

Famous works of biji include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Zuo, Ya (2018). Shen Gua's Empiricism. Harvard University Asia Center. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-0-674-98711-1.
  2. ^ a b Qian, Zhongshu (1998). "Introduction". Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters. Translated by Ronald, Egan. Harvard University Asia Center. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-674-53411-7.