Gui Youguang

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Gui Youguang.[1] (traditional Chinese:歸有光;simplified Chinese:归有光;pinyin:Guī Yǒuguāng)(1506–1571), also known as Gui Zhenchuan(simplified Chinese:归震川), Xi Fu(熙甫), Kai Fu(开甫), Xiang Jisheng(项脊生), was a Chinese proser of Ming Dynasty. His prose creation was highly spoken of. People of his time regarded him as “today’s Ouyang Xiu(欧阳修)”, and the later generations praised his proses as “the best proses in Ming Dynasty”(明文第一). His works include Xiang Ji Xuan Zhi(项脊轩志),[2] Sanwu Shuili Lu(三吴水利录), Zhenchuan Wen Ji(震川文集),[3] Guan Li(冠礼), Zong Fa(宗法) and some other proses and books.


Gui Youguang was born in Kunshan, a county in the south-east of Jiangsu Province. His family was a big family in the past but was falling into decay with each passing day at that time. When Gui was only 8 years old, his 25-year-old mother died, leaving her three sons and two daughters to her husband. After that, Gui's family lived a much harder life. Under this circumstance, Gui was obliged to learn about sorrow and suffering at a very early age. Because of his cleverness and hard work, Gui was able to write quite good articles when he was only 9 years old. At the age of 10, he wrote an article of several thousand words, called Qi Xi Lun(乞醯论). Gui then took the local examination, Tongzi Shi(童子试), to be qualified to take a further examination to be an official of the Ming Dynasty. He came first in this examination when he was 20 years old.

However, Gui didn't go smoothly in his later forty years. He went to Nanjing to take part in the further examinations for eight times but all failed. In 1565, Gui finally got a Jinshi(进士)(the lowest title for participants who are accepted by examiners) in his ninth examination. So, Gui became a Zhixian(知县)(an official position) in Changxing[disambiguation needed](长兴) at the age of sixty. Three years later, Gui was transferred to be a Tongpan in Shunde(顺德). In 1570, after Gui went to Beijing to celebrate Wanshoujie(万寿节)(the birthday of the emperor), he was promoted to be the Taipusi Sichen in Nanjing(南京太仆寺寺丞)(an official position). But he still stayed in Beijing to compile a book called Shizong Shi Lu(世宗实录) for the emperor. When Gui was just about to show his talent to realize his dreams, he got seriously sick suddenly.

In 1571, Gui died in Beijing at the age of 66 because of the illness.[4]

Books and Proses[edit]

Books: Sanwu Shuili Lu(三吴水利录), Zhenchuan Wen Ji(震川文集), Guan Li(冠礼), Zong Fa(宗法)

Proses:Xiang Ji Xuan Zhi(项脊轩志), Canglang Ting Ji(沧浪亭记), Hanhua Zang Zhi(寒花葬志), Xianbi Shi Lue(先妣事略), Sizi Ting Ji(思子亭记)


In 1828, Tao Zhu, the Jiangsu Xunfu of that time, got permission from the emperor. A school named Zhenchuan Shuyuan was built to memorize Gui Youguang after three years’ construction. Then in 1903, Zhenchuan Shuyuan was closed. One year later, An Yuan and some other people founded the Zhenchuan Primary School at the same place as Zhenchuan Shuyuan. After several years, Zhenchuan junior high school was added to Zhenchuan Primary School. Now the school is called Anting Junior High School which is located in Anting Town, Jiading District, Shanghai.


  • 张廷玉/等 [Zhang Yuting] (1974). 明史 [A history of Ming Dynasty] (in Chinese). Zhonghua Shuju.