“Four Books”(Si Shu) came into existence before the Qin Dynasty, although they were not called “Four Books” ac that time. The Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu.), one of the Four Books, is a collection of words and deeds of Confucius. The other three are Mencius (Mengzi), The Great Learning (Da Xue) and The Doctrine of the Mean (Zhong Yong). Mencius recorded the political thought of Master Meng Ke (Mengzi) who was another prominent figure of Confucianism. The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean are two chapters from the corpus of The Records of Rites (Li Ji) originally. They are the collections of treatises on the rules of propriety and ceremonial usages. Zhu Xi, the well-known scholar of the Southern Song Dynasties, offered elaborate comments on the two books. Together with The Analects of Confucius and Mencius, they were called The Collected Notes on Passages in the Four Books, commonly known as “Four Books”. They were regarded as the elementary textbooks for Confucianism study. Five Classics refer to five ancient classics: The Book of Changes (Yi Jing), The Book of Documents (Shang Shu), The Book of Poetry (Shi Jing), The Records of Rites (Li Ji) and The spring and Autumn Annals (Chun Qiu).
In the dynasties of Ming and Qing, the sentences from “Four Books and Five Classics” were the basis for the Imperial Examinations. Examinees had to explain them according to The Collected Notes on Passage in the Four Books. Therefore, “Four Books and Five Classics” became the most important textbooks for scholars of the time. Then the Confucian thought of “Four Books and Five Classics” became the guideline of behavior. Further more, as the most important ancient corpus of China, it still has great influence on the current generation.