Liu Qihua, male, Han nationality, born in March, 1917, is a native of Anhua, Hunan Province and a member of the Jiu San Society. In 1947, he graduated from the
Test and Debate Scripture, Serving as a Link between Past and Future
Liu Qihua is advanced in years, and he is inconvenient to be interviewed. Through the negotiation with History Institute, we have invited two young scholars, Wu Rui and Liu Yuan, who have communicated with Mr. Liu closely, to talk about Mr. Liu’s learning methods and academic thoughts.
Wu Rui (hereinafter referred to as Wu): Mr. Liu Qiyu is the authority of Book of History, which has universally acknowledged by the academic circle, and he is also an ancient historical expert with outstanding achievements. History of Book of History, Continued Discussion on Ancient History, and Discussion on the Proofreading and Translation of Book of History written by him from his sixty years old to his eight years old are famous books, which were written by him on the basis of comprehensively gathering and elaborately settling materials. I was distributed to work in Chinese Thought History Research Room of History Institute, communicating with Mr. Liu frequently. In addition, I have often written letters to seek advices, so I know about his academic career and life experiences. By this chance, I will introduce his learning methods and academic thoughts. I think that it can inspire young scholars in the field of Chinese ancient history, archaeology for three generations, study of Confucian classics, and historical literatures and so on.
Liu Yuan (hereinafter referred to as Liu): almost all scholars of previous generations have profound paternal teaching and stable learning basis when he was young. Can you talk about influences of family education and paternal teaching towards his later academic way?
Wu: ok. Most scholars of previous generations have benefited by good family academic environment and personal gift, and they always revealed excellence when they were young. For example, Comrade Gu Xiegang knew how to read when he was two years old, and Comrade Qian Xiantong can recite poems when he was four years old. When comparing, it is late for Mr. Yang Xiankui to read The Commentary of Zuo when he was twelve years old. Mr. Liu Qiyu has gained good primary, Confucian classics, historical science, and ancient poem formative education. He was born in a village in Nanhua of Hunan province in 1917, with good natural environment and beautiful mountains and clear waters. When he was one year old, his father died. And his formative education was given by his grandfather. Mr. Liu’s grandfather is the student of Wang Xianqian, expert of ancient poems in late Qing dynasty, and he has ever studied in
In the past, I didn’t admit that I was old, and I thought that it didn’t need labor for writing things in previous. However, I found that my energy was not as good as before. It is because of natural law, so it admits of no exception. Therefore, I couldn’t help but sighing. A main indication is that I can not remember things recently and things in recent years; as for past events, I always forget this, that and other; as for things in my childhood, I can remember clearly. I can remember books read in my childhood, for example, when I was twelve years old, and my grandfather spent four to five months in teaching me The Commentary of Zuo with patience. And now I can recite it clearly. In addition, I can also remember The Analects of Confucius and Menci taught previously, only not as familiar as The Commentary of Zuo. (Because after taught me The Commentary of Zuo, my grandfather told me to read it every year, and he said that ancient people read books like this.) I have abided by it for three years, but when I studied in senior middle school in
Liu: during the first half of twentieth century, on the basis of
Wu: Mr. Liu’s grandfather has ever donated half of landed properties to build the primary in their village. He went to the lower primary school and higher primary school for free. When he went to middle school, his family was too poor to pay tuition for him, so he had no choice but to going to public high school. After graduation, he has worked for three years. And at the same time, he learned English, and then he took the university entrance examination. His English was not very good, so he was distributed to the pre-sessional class to learn English mainly, and then he was admitted by the History Department of College of Liberal Arts of Central University. During his study in
In the period of his learning at university, teachers in History Department were qualified. Jin Yufu was the department head, and professors had Ding Shan, Zhang Guiyong, Shen Gangbo, Guo Tingyi, Jiang Mengying, Bai Shouli, Jiang Fuen, He Changqun, Han Rulin, and Gu Xiegang. Because of his outstanding poetic prose, Wang Pijiang and Luo Genze of Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Mr. Wu Shutang, Director of Department of Chinese Language and Literature of Normal College, Mr. Miu Fenglin, Director of Geography and History Department, and Xin Shuzhi, Zouyang Zhe, and Hu Huanyong, famous teachers in college of science valued him very much. Under the held of teachers, Mr. Liu’s academy has make great change, from emphasizing poetic prose to research. Mr. Jin Yufu guided him to change at first, and he taught Mr. Liu systematic knowledge of history and instructed him the reading method of history. However, Mr. Gu Xiegang facilitated him to change finally, which shall be talked in the future. Through the learning from each teacher, Mr. Liu has made great progress in academy, expanded academic horizon, and enhanced academic state. Although teachers wanted to cultivate Mr. Liu, some teachers at that time had different understandings, and they opposed and rejected each other, on the contrary Mr. Liu felt sad. For example, Mr. Miu Fenglin insisted in ancient academy, and he got along well with Mr. Liu who had strong ancient books bases, while Mr. Ding Shan taught Mr. Liu knowledge of Oracle with great passion, asking Mr. Liu to research and read according to Word and Expression. Mr. Liu showed great interest in the academic direction introduced by Mr. Ding, and he has also respected Mr. Miu all the time, but the inharmony of them made him unconformable. And later, I contacted with Mr. Gu, and I was attracted by his clemency, so I gradually approached Mr.Gu, finally, I am engaged in the research road instructed by Mr. Gu. In 1945, when Mr. Liu graduated, there was a disturbance in the choice of future, which impels him to follow Mr. Gu. Mr. Zhang Guiyong, Department Head at that time recommended him to him to work at Dong Zuobin, History and Language Institute of Central Research Institution, which fitted for Mr. Ding Shan’s opinion. However, some professors of other team in the university dissuaded Mr. Liu to stay at school, so he couldn’t know how to do for a short time. At that time, Mr. Xin suggested Mr. Liu following Mr. Gu, and Mr. Liu admired fine moral integrity and good learning of Mr. Gu. And then Mr. Liu entered himself for the examination of Arts Institute of Central University, to be a postgraduate of Mr. Gu. And at the same time, he asked Mr. Ding to be his deputy supervisor, like this, he cared opinions of teachers of two schools. In short,
Liu: yes, it is. In Mr. Liu’s life and research experiences, Mr. Gu Zegang really played a crucial role. Can you talk about the assistance and influences of Mr. Gu Zegang towards Mr. Liu in
Hu: ok! When Mr. Liu learned in
As explained above, Mr. Gu extremely appreciated Mr. Liu’s poems, but actually, Mr. Gu didn’t want him to be a scholar, and said: “you work hard to write two sentences like this, and these two sentences match both sound and sense, but what sentences are they. Indeed, they are good for nothing. It is right for you to pursue study seriously and to solve problems in academics.” These sentences made Mr. Liu that it was inappropriate for modern people to write poems with dead style of writing. And he determined to abide by Mr. Gu’s instruction and to be engaged in academic research, like this, he finished a big change in life and academic road.
In the aspect of how to pursuing one’s studies, Mr. Gu has enlightened Mr. Liu a lot. When Mr. Liu studied in the first grade, Mr. Gu has ever asked Mr. Liu to punctuate for a Book of History. And Mr. Gu felt Mr. Liu’s punctuation was very good, and asked whether Mr. Liu had any questions. Mr. Liu said that he punctuated it according to Kong’s Biography, so he didn’t have any questions. After hearing this, Mr. Gu laughed and pointed out that he had to know that Book of History has most questions among Five Classics, if you didn’t know, you couldn’t do researches. As for doing researches, you shall be good at liberating you from traditional opinions, to find new problems, so that you can open the door of knowledge. As for the book punctuated by Mr. Liu, there was no other use for it, and this was only a kind of way for him to lead Mr. Liu to pursuing studies. When Mr. Liu studied in the second grade, Mr. Gu taught “Three Commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals”, and Mr. Liu didn’t expect that there were so many questions for Spring and Autumn Annals and The Commentary of Zuo read by him carefully over and over again. In the past, he believed ancient style prose of Han dynasty, without any doubts. However, after Mr. Gu taught the debate of literature school at the end of Qing dynasty towards Spring and Autumn Annals and The Commentary of Zuo, Mr. Liu felt that he shall re-treat Spring and Autumn Annals and The Commentary of Zuo again and recognized that he would make the same debate towards classic literatures in the future. And his lecture notes were cleared up as a book named Comprehensive Research on Three Commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals and Mandarin Chinese, which was published by Bashu Publishing House in 1988.
However, Mr. Liu didn’t agree with the literature school’s point that The Commentary of Zuo and Rites of Zhou were forged by Liu Xin, who was a person of Han dynasty. Therefore, after he studied for the master degree following Mr. Gu, he chose the title of Discussion on Judicial Officers in Warring States Period, and he wanted to gather materials of regulation in literatures of Pre-Qin except Rites of Zhou, taking to compare with official system of Official System of Zhou Dynasty. Through research, he thought that Rites of Zhou was written in accordance with official systems of countries of Zhou, Lu, Wei, and Zheng in Spring and Autumn Period, which had nothing to do with official systems of other countries, even with the Warring States Period. This conclusion opposed academic points of Mr. Gu, but Mr. Gu was always magnanimous, and he welcomed others to write articles to discuss with him, so he supported Mr. Liu to research continuously. With Mr. Gu’s encouragement, Mr. Liu’s confidence in independent thinking and research was increased. In addition, he finished the book named Discussion on Judicial Officers in Warring States Period when he graduated in 1947.
Liu: the title of Mr. Liu Qiyu’s master thesis was extremely good, and his spirit of daring to doubt his teacher and thinking things out for himself was worthy of learning. And at the same time, Mr. Gu’s grand academic mind and the elder style of leading people of later generations are precious, which inspires Mr. Liu a lot. After he graduated as a postgraduate student, whether Mr. Liu threw himself into the work of researching the study of Confucian classics and ancient history?
Hu: it was not the case. And Mr. Liu’s life is rough. After he graduated as a postgraduate student, he was recommended by Mr. Gu and Mr. Jin Yufu to be an assistant in newly established National History Institute, and he was promoted as vice professor. After the new
Liu: can you talk about Mr. Liu’s work and learning conditions in Nanjing Historical Settlement Bureau?
Wu: in this period, Mr. Liu’s classic academic research can not be talked about. He subjected to arrangement, taking charge of clearing up historical files of more than three hundred units, cataloging more than four hundred books, compiling more than 30 millions of words of historical data assembly, and publishing Sorting Methods of Historical Files. It can be seen that his working ability is outstanding. After the anti-rightist movement in 1957, Mr. Liu was criticized and struggled, and he fell into a flutter. Mr. Jin Yufu, Jiang Mengyin, and Luo Genze wanted to transfer him to Modern History Institute and Department of History and Department of Chinese Language and Literature of Nanjing University, which didn’t succeed. Mr. Liu felt that he was in fence, so he learned Marxism with all energy. And his thought suffered a huge surge. As for effects of learning of this period, he said: “I have gained correct viewpoints and methods for analyzing problems, investigating problems, and handling problems and avoided understanding problems in one-side and optionally, which were benefits for my future research.”
Liu: how was Mr. Liu transferred to
Wu: the sorting work of Book of History was actually Chairman Mao’s instruction, he said: “clear up and translate Book of History, or else we can not understand it”, but Mr. Gu didn’t know at that time. In 1959, Mr. Gu accepted the sorting task of Book of History, but his ability was not equal to his ambition. When Mr. Gu had a holiday in
Mr. Liu assisted Mr. Gu in
Mr. Liu assisted Mr. Gu to clear up Book of History, and he developed the work in accordance with the plan raised by Mr. Gu and samples wrote by Mr. Gu. At that time, the work of Universal Detection of Book of History was finished by Mr. Gu himself. Mr. Gu and it was published in 1936. Character Collection of Book of History was finished through the cooperation of Mr. Gu and Gu Tinglong, which was completed in 1936 but not published. Later, Mr. Gu Tinglong continued to supplement and to revise, and it was published by Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House in 1966. These two items of work were finished, so Mr. Liu concentrated on the work of Proofreading Text of Book of History, Explanation of Book of History, Modern Translation of Book of History, History of the Study of Book of History, Booklist of the Study of Book of History, and Simple Annotation of Book of History. He worked hard with perseverance and consistency. So far, he has compiled and published Investigation on Sources and Versions of Book of History, History of the Study of Book of History, The Study of Book of History and its Literatures in Japan, Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Book of History, and Discussion on Research of Book of History and so on. And he has completed the work delivered by Mr. Gu with high quality. In addition, he has also published a book named Re-discussion on Ancient History, discussing his own opinions on ancient history.
Liu: yes! History of the Study of Book of History and The Study of Book of History and its Literatures in Japan of Mr. Liu Qiyu have completed two plans of History of the Study of Book of History and Booklist of the Study of Book of History put forward by Mr. Gu, while Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation was the collection of Proofreading Text of Book of History, Explanation of Book of History, and Modern Translation of Book of History. Can you talk about how Mr. Liu finished this work in detail? In addition, there were five parts, namely emendation, explanation, sections, modern translation, and textual research, in Mr. Gu’s sample article named Modern Translation of Grand Ordinance of Book of History (Abstract), why it changed to three parts, namely proofreading and explanation, modern translation, and discussion, in Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Book of History?
Wu: let’s talk about his work in the aspect of History of the Study of Book of History and Booklist of the Study of Book of History. The research work of any Confucian classics shall be started from gathering and clearing up materials. In order to clear up Book of History, you shall make clear spread conditions of various editions of Book of History at first and comprehensively grasp Book of History of various editions of successive dynasties and relevant materials. Therefore, in 1962, after Mr. Liu arrived in
We can see from the above introduction that in order to sort Book of History, Mr. Liu has made hard and outstanding work in materials accumulation and collection, which has laid solid foundation for him to carry out the work of Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Book of History. It is known that Mr. Gu has ever published Modern Translation of Grand Ordinance of Book of History (Abstract) (1962) as the sample article for sorting Book of History, and this article was divided into five parts: emendation, explanation, sections, modern translation, and textual research. Mr. Liu abides by this case to sort Book of History. For a start, he wrote articles, such as Emperor Gaozong of Tang Offers Sacrifices to Gods in the Next Day and Micro-point and so on. And the article named Emperor Gaozong of Tang Offers Sacrifices to Gods in the Next Day was printed. And then he asked more than twenty experts for advices, and he combined “sections” in the original case into the part of “explanation” in accordance with their suggestions and with the consent of Mr. Gu. During “the Great Cultural Revolution in
Liu: Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Book of History is indeed the most important part in the research plan of Book of History listed by Mr. Gu before his death, and the publication of this book can be called as a milestone of the research history of Book of History. Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Book of History was published by Mr. Liu and Mr. Gu Xiegang jointly. We can see that his academic research was deeply influenced by Mr. Gu. Can you talk about Mr. Liu’s inheritance and development towards Mr. Gu’s academy?
Hu: I have talked that Mr. Liu step on to the research road of Book of History was because of Mr. Gu. He did his work of clearing up Book of History in accordance with Mr. Gu’s research plan, abiding by the sample of Modern Translation of Grand Ordinance of Book of History (Abstract). As for Mr. Gu’s research achievements on Book of History, Mr. Liu absorbed them as many as he can. For example, in 1998, he seen an article named Discussion on Proofreading, Explanation, and Translation of Alcohol Prohibition written by Wang Xihua through clearing up Mr.Gu’s books in Culture and History. Through interview, he found that Mr. Gu has written eight articles in
In the aspect of research method, Mr. Liu has learned Mr. Gu’s quintessence, namely collecting materials in detail, detailed textual research, and rigorous style of writing. In Mr. Gu’s articles, all materials are included, and it is difficult for people of later generations to increase one or two items. In this aspect, Mr. Liu has also achieved very high level, and he has ever written to me: “possess materials in detail, and then analyze scientifically and research comprehensively, so as to get inherent conclusions.” When he sorted Book of History, he quoted a lot of materials of inscriptions on oracle bones and inscriptions on ancient bronze objects, so it can be seen that the range for him to collect materials is very wide. In the aspect of textual research, Mr. Liu has never avoided questions, and he has given us the truth to the best of his ability. As it were, all puzzles were solved on the basis of gathering materials widely.
As it were, because of Mr. Gu’s influences and cares, Mr. Liu has always had innovation in the research of Book of History and ancient history on the basis of inhering his teachers’ academies, and Mr. Liu has achieved remarkable results. For example, in the aspect of researching Book of History, many statements of him have been extremely valued by the academic circle. In the aspect of researching ancient history, his Comprehensive Investigation on Chinese Ancient History Period and Source Relationship of Jijiang, Di, and Qiang have been praised by others.
In the aspect of developing teachers’ academies, the most outstanding expression is that he dares to break away some viewpoints of experts and can promote his teachers’ statements on the basis of analyzing materials in detail. For example, the view of the completion process of Rites of Zhou, namely totally oppose that this book was forged by Liu Xin. As for the era of Yugong, he found that many contents in this book can not be later than the Spring and Autumn Period, but there are also some things before the new condition of the Warring States Period, so he pointed out that the initial draft of Yugong reflects geographical conditions in the Spring and Autumn Period, and geographical conditions of the Warring States Period were added when it was spread to the Warring States Period, and it was not written in the Warring States Period at a time.
In short, Mr. Gu has four research fields, namely the study of Confucian classics, ancient history, historical geography, and folklore, and Mr. Liu has involved three aspects, namely the study of Confucian classics, ancient history, and historical geography. Mr. Liu has inherited Mr. Gu’s research attitude, and he has had creation in the depth aspect of research, which is uncommon. However, he didn’t satisfy with this. On
However, in fact, I am always very sad, which is not the same as my earnings. When I was a child, my grandfather has taught me a lot, which was different other children; I have read books in all my life; and later I was taught by famous teachers; so I shall make great achievements, even I must have great achievements. However, my achievements are not very great, so I feel regret. Therefore, late at night, I always feel ashamed.
In the aspect of research attitude, Mr. Liu would like to live simply and ordinarily, and he spends all of his energy in Book of History, forty days like one day, just as Mr. Liu’s statement in the first page of a book: “this book has been written for more than thirty years (from 1963 to 1999)”. It can never be reached by most scholars in this generation, and it shall be cherished by people of later generations. On
As you say, my house is in the floor where the light is not good. It is in the ground floor of the building, so it is specially shady and cool. Therefore, in ordinary days, I must wear more clothes than others. There is only 35 square meters, so it is too narrow to put my books. Books are put in all walls of the study, and many books only can be put under the desk, at corners of the house, and at one end of the bed of the bedroom. Therefore, sometimes, when I want to find a book in a hurry, it is difficult to find it at a time. Sometimes, I can remember where a certain book is put, but I only can find it difficultly. In addition, there is only one water closet and small cement square basin in my rest room, and I have ever wanted to change the small cement square basin to a small bathtub, so that I can sit to have a bath, but the Building Management Branch didn’t admitted. Therefore, in order to have a bath, I, a seventy or eighty-year-old man, only can boil a pail of water and stand to have a bath. If you want to gain something, but you can not, so you desire to gain it. Since I lived in Jinsong in 1981, I have lived here for nearly twenty years. Seven or eight of my books praised by the academic field and more than one hundred theses were written in this hard environment. In addition, “written in Jinsong” was written in the “preface” or “postscript” of each book, so here is meaningful for me. I have lived here for twenty years, and this is the place where I have lived longest. In addition, my academic prime stage is here (I regard my academic prime stage as from 60 years old to 80 years old). However, when I read your letter, I only know that you care about me so much, so I am moved. “When drinking with a bosom friend, a thousand cups will still be too little; in a disagreeable conversation, one word more is too many.”
Wu Rui, male, was born in
Liu Yuan, male, was born in Xianyang, Shaanxi in 1973, whose original family home was in Changsha, Hunan. At present, he is an associate researcher in the Pre-Qin History Research Room at the History Institute of the
Translated by Feng Weijiang.
Editor: Wang Daohang