This paper tries to discuss the positioning of Wang Xianqian’s 王先謙Shi Sanjiayi Jishu 詩三家義集疏by tracing the history of the collection and compilation of the lost writings of the Three Schools of Poetry (Sanjiashi Jiyi 三家詩輯佚).
The methods of Jiyi before Wang developed from quotation to teacher-succession and inference and deduction, and then Chen Qiaozon’s 陳喬樅 Sanjiashi Yishuo Kao 三家詩遺說攷 brought them into full play. Wang succeeded all these methods and added the method of deletion to complement those unknown data, and make most of the lost writings belong to their right categories. However, Wang’s discrimination to the classification of the lost writings was not deep and accurate, there were still much questions in it. Wang’s contribution to Jiyi was limited. It was obviously incomparable to his book, which attained its achievements in gathering other people’s interpretations. Moreover, the format of his book in criticizing the differences of the Three Schools was not coherent, it sometimes said that the opinions of the Three Schools were not all the same, sometime said that they had no differences, and sometimes said that they should be the same. Most of these criticisms were not well examined. It is thus evident that his book was not careful and precise enough.
Xianqian’s succeeding to the trace of Wei Yuan魏源 and Feng Dengfu 馮登府 to collect and compile the lost writings of the Three Schools, gather other people’s interpretations, approve the Three Schools and disparage the Mao School 毛詩 is a natural trend, yet, his viewpoints to Mao School and Confucian Classics in ancient texts 古文經學 should be treated separately and can not be confused. It is related to Xianqian’s attitude to the disputation between Confucian Classics in modern and ancient texts, and thus is worth paying attention to it.