A Journal of My Misgivings

A Journal of My Misgivings

Liang Yusheng, Sima Qian, and the History of Qin (CRM 79)

Jeffrey Riegel

Publication date: 2023
ISBN-13 (print): 9781557292032
ISBN-10 (print): 1-55729-203-5
ISBN-13 (e-book): 9781557292049

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Title information

A Journal of My Misgivings about the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji zhiyi 史記志疑), written by Liang Yusheng 梁玉繩 (1745–1819), is a detailed analysis and critique of the Shiji 史記 of Sima Qian 司馬遷 (b. 145 BCE). Sima Qian had composed a masterful survey of the ancient dynasties and ruling houses from legendary times until the second century BCE, and filled it with anecdotes, short biographies, lineages, legends, and learned treatises as well as his own observations and opinions.  Because the scope of Liang’s Journal is as broad and complex as the Shiji, Jeffrey Riegel’s study of it focuses on Liang’s critiques of those parts of the Grand Historian’s Records relating to the slow rise and precipitous fall of Qin, weaving Liang’s scholarship into a revision of Sima Qian’s narration of the five-hundred-year transformation of Qin from marginal state to hegemonic power. Riegel first provides an account of Liang’s life in Qing dynasty Hangzhou and a study of his methodology and sources before turning to revisions of what the Shiji says about Qin’s origins, the state’s ruling lineage, and its later kings and emperors, as well as the geography of the Qin state and empire, and the almost countless battles from which Qin emerged as ultimate victor in 221 BCE. The foundation of Riegel’s revisions to Qin history is the Shiji zhiyi, but on occasion Riegel supplements, corrects, and updates Liang’s scholarship by referring to the numerous archaeological discoveries that have dramatically altered our understanding of what happened in the history of early China. An appendix to the volume summarizes Liang’s valuable studies of early Chinese chronology. Other appendixes (that appear in an online supplement) provide further details on Liang’s corrections to Sima Qian’s text and include a Finding List of the relevant Shiji passages on the Qin, Liang’s scholarship, and other commentaries and translations.

Language: English
Publisher: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Jeffrey Riegel

Jeffrey Riegel is professor emeritus of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also professor emeritus of the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on classical Chinese literature and early Chinese texts. He has studied and translated the Annals of Lü Buwei and Mozi.


M.A., Chinese, Stanford University; Ph.D., Chinese, Stanford University

A Journal of My Misgivings

Preface ix
Abbreviations, Maps, Tables, and Technical Notes xv
I. Liang Yusheng and the Composition of A Journal of My Misgivings
1 The Life and Legacy of Liang Yusheng 3
2 The Methods and Sources of an Eighteenth-Century Historian 50
II: Qin History Revised
3 The Founders of the Qin Ruling Lineage and Their Heirs 123
4 Kings and Emperors 197
5 The Cultural and Administrative Geography of Qin 294
6 Warfare 367
Liang Yusheng on Shiji Chronology 465
Epilogue: Liang Yusheng and the Shiji 489
Bibliography 495
Index 523

Appendixes and Tables
1. Liang Yusheng’s Notes on the Guo Qin lun of Jia Yi
2. Textual Criticism and the Making of the Zhonghua shuju Edition of the Shiji
Finding List