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Zhan Guo Ce

Zhan Guo Ce (simplified Chinese: 战国策, traditional Chinese: 戰國策, pinyin: zhn gu c) (ZGC) was a renowned ancient Chinese historical work on the Warring States Period compiled in late Western Han Dynasty by Liu Xiang (劉向). It is an important literature in the research of Warring States Period as it accounts the strategies and political views of the school of negotiations and reveals the historical and social characteristics of the period.

Alternative English titles include

Table of contents
1 Title and Versions
2 Format
3 Literary Criticism
4 Bibliography
5 External Links

Title and Versions

The author of ZGC still cannot be verified. In late Western Han Dynasty, six versions of written works from the school of negotiations were discovered by Liu Xiang during his editing and proofreading of imperial literary collection. Those works of political view and diplomatic strategies from the school of negotiation were in poor condition, comprised of confusing contents and missing words. Liu Xiang proofread and edited them into the new book Zhan Guo Ce; ZGC is therefore not written by a single author at a time.

Signifcant contents of ZGC were lost in subsequent centuries. Zeng Gong of the Northern Song Dynasty reclaimed some lost chapters, proofread and edited the modern version. Some writings on cloths were excavated from the Han Dynasty tomb at Mawangdui (py) or Ma-wang Tui (wg) near the city of Changsha in 1973 and edited and published in Beijing in 1976 in the 27 chapter Zhan guo zong heng jia shu (py) or Chan-kup Tsung-heng-chia Shu (wg) (works from the school of negotiations during the Warring States Period) (201 pp.), 11 of which was found to be similar to the contents in ZGC and the Records of the Grand Historian. That publication appeared in Taiwan in 1977 as the Bo-shu Zhan Guo Ce (py) or Po-shu Chan-kuo Ts'e (wg).


ZGC recounts the history from the conquest of the Fan clan by the Zhi clan in 490 BC up to the failed assassination of Qin Shihuangdi by Gao Jianli in 221 BC.

The book comprises of approximatly 120,000 words in 497 sections of 33 chapters (卷). The twelve ce are:

In Chan-kuo Ts'e (see bibliography for full citation) by J. I. Crump, the text is categoried into 11 books:

The Book of Chou
The Book of Ch'in
The Book of Ch'i
The Book of Ch'u
The Book of Chao
The Book of Wei, or Liang
The Book of Han
The Book of Yen
The Book of Sung
The Book of Wei, the lesser
The Book of Chung-shan

Literary Criticism

ZGC displays the social aspects and scholaristic habitat of the Warring States Period. Not only a brillant historical work, it is also an excellent historical literature and novel. Major events and historical information of the period are represented in objective and vivid descriptions. Detailed records of speeches and deeds of followers of school of negotiations reveals their mental makeup and intellectual expertise. Righteousness, bravery and determination of numerous characters are also recorded.

Sophisticated intellectual contents of ZGC mainly discloses intellectual inclination of followers of school of negotiations and illustrated the intellectual prosperity and multicultural aspects of the period. Most important of the progreessive political views emphasized talents, skills and expertise.

Literary achievement of ZGC is also outstanding - it signifies a new era in the development of ancient Chinese literature. Among other aspects, character description, language usage and metaphorical stories demonstrates strong and clear literary quality. ZGC greatly influenced the format of the Record of the Grand Historian.

ZGC has been credited for its literary value. Nevertheless its intellectual aspects have also been disputed, mainly due to its stress in fame and profit and confliction against imminent Confucian ideology. Emphasis in historical contribiutions from the school of negotiation was overdone, devaluing its historical importance.


External Links