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Chinese Studies Traditional Chinese Poetry
by
Olga Lomová

Introduction

In modern China, “traditional poetry” (also called “classical”) refers to gu shi 古詩 (old poetry) and encompasses poetic writing since Antiquity to the end of the imperial era. The concept must be understood in opposition to “new poetry” (xin shi 新詩), written after the May Fourth movement (1919), with its own poetic assumptions and modes of expression inspired by Western models. “Old poetry” also embraces all production in traditional forms practiced after May Fourth outside the mainstream of new literature. Before the impact of Western culture, five basic poetic “genres” were recognized, including shi 詩 (poetry, verse) in various forms, yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau verse), fu 賦 (rhapsody, rhymed prose, etc.), ci 詞 (song, lyric), and qu 曲 (aria), each with its own variety of formal, stylistic, and performative conventions and social roles. In bibliographies, anthologies, and personal collections, genres are separated. Two ancient anthologies, Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) and Chu ci 楚辭 (Songs from Chu), were treated as separate categories, though a direct link between them and later genres (shi, fu) is established. A hierarchy of genres was acknowledged, with broadly defined shi (including the yuefu) deriving its authority from the canonical Shi jing on the top. (The position of the fu is complicated, and after the Tang dynasty it was classified as prose.) The boundaries between high and low were not impenetrable, and interplay between them constitutes much of the dynamics of traditional Chinese poetry evolution. In the beginning of the 20th century, Chinese scholars, reinterpreting earlier ideas about genres under the impact of evolutionary theories, established a new template of literary history consisting of genres of poetry and prose alternating in “dominant” positions along the lines of dynastic change. For poetry these period genres are defined as Shi jing and Chu ci (pre-Han period); fu, yuefu, and gu shi 古詩 (Han period); and wu yan shi 五言詩 (early medieval period), followed by Tang shi, Song ci, and Yuan qu. Until the 1980s, when the established template was first challenged, a genre was studied in Chinese literature almost exclusively in the period in which it was supposed to be “dominant.” Poetry after the Yuan was mostly disregarded, though all previous genres continued to be practiced. For political reasons, contact between Western scholarship and East Asian Sinology after 1949 was largely limited to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. Scholarship in China was subject to strict ideological control, culminating during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). The situation changed after the 1980s, and regular contacts between East and West and between China and Taiwan and Japan have been established. Nevertheless, much of the research in China and in the West is separate due to differing traditions and academic contexts.

Modern Concept of Chinese Poetry Studies

In premodern China a rich tradition of domestic poetry criticism and studies developed that was substantially different from the scholarship created after the May Fourth movement. A comprehensive overview of Chinese traditional ideas about literature, including poetry, and their reconceptualization in the early 20th century is in Dong, et al. 2003. The complex process of reevaluation of traditional concepts in the early 20th century is discussed in Llamas 2010, an article about Wang Guowei’s pioneering study on Chinese drama. The same issue is approached in relation to poetry in Owen 2001. The understanding of the fundamental difference between the “old” and the “new,” common among scholars of modern Chinese poetry, is summarized in Yeh 1991. This opinion on the nature of traditional poetry would not necessarily be shared by the classicists. In the early 21st century a new approach bringing traditional and modern poetry closer together was adopted in a major work published in China, Zhao and Wu 2012.

  • Dong Naibin 董乃斌, Chen Bohai 陈伯海, and Liu Yangzhong 刘扬忠. Zhongguo wenxue shixue shi (中国文学史学史). 3 vols. Shijiazhuang, China: Hebei renmin chubanshe, 2003.

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    An overview of Chinese literary historiography. The book is arranged chronologically (Volume 3 is dedicated to the modern period) and according to genres. The May Fourth heritage, placed in historical context, is challenged. It also provides a summary of research between 1949 and the early 1990s. Taiwan is also partly represented.

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  • Llamas, Regina. “Wang Guowei and the Establishment of Chinese Drama in the Modern Canon of Classical Literature.” T’oung Pao 96.1–3 (2010): 165–201.

    DOI: 10.1163/156853210X515675Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on the modern idea of Chinese drama but is also revealing about more-general processes shaping the creation of modern literary history in China, out of the interplay of local traditions and new concepts imported from the West.

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  • Owen, Stephen. “The End of the Past: Rewriting Chinese Literary History in the Early Republic.” In The Appropriation of Cultural Capital: China’s May Fourth Project. Edited by Milena Doleželová-Velingerová and Oldřich Král with Graham Sanders, 167–192. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001.

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    Owen discusses the reconceptualization of Chinese poetry studies in the early 20th century, in the context of the May Fourth movement’s creation of the academic field of history of Chinese literature. Points to traditional interest in appreciation, not analysis. The issue of a unified literary canon is also involved.

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  • Yeh, Michelle Mi-Hsi. “A New Orientation to Poetry: The Transition from Traditional to Modern.” In Modern Chinese Poetry: Theory and Practice since 1917. By Michelle Mi-Hsi Yeh, 5–28. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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    An introduction to a book about 20th-century poetry. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the difference of “new poetry.” It does so on the basis either of adherence to or rejection of the classical canon and its conventions and differences in sensibilities, poetic assumptions, and freedom of imagery.

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  • Zhao Minli 赵敏俐 and Wu Sijing 吴思敬, eds. Zhongguo shige tongshi (中国诗歌通史). Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 2012.

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    Among other innovations, the editors of this general history of Chinese poetry also try to establish the idea of continuity of the Chinese poetic tradition in modern times.

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Histories of Traditional Poetry

The best-known publication in Chinese with the ambition to embrace all traditional poetry in historical perspective is Lu and Feng 1956. It embodies the May Fourth model of the history of Chinese literature, combining rigorous research on sources with the new template motivated by the May Fourth ideology. Kubin 2002 also follows the May Fourth model and does not devote much space to poetry after the Song period. The author calls the later periods postclassical (nachklassische). Zhao and Wu 2012 presents a new synthesis of the history of Chinese poetry of all times (the fu 賦 [rhapsody, rhymed prose] not included), bringing into the Chinese discourse new ideas and perspectives. Watson 1971, in a concise manner convenient for beginning students, covers the time span from the Han to the Tang periods, but the discussion is limited to shi 詩 (poetry, verse) poetry. Histories dedicated to one genre are common in China. They are convenient to use together with anthologies prepared along the same genre divisions. The apparent disadvantage is the one-sided portraits they provide of authors who were practitioners of more than one genre (which are the majority). The shi from the Yuan and Ming period are covered in Yoshikawa 1989. Yan 1998 provides a comprehensive history of Qing shi poetry but also includes a summary of shi during the Ming period. Huang 2003 provides a history of the ci 詞 (song, lyric) genre from its beginnings till the end of the Qing period. Sanders 2006 is not a literary history but deserves to be read along with conventional historical overviews of poetry. Graham Sanders studies traditional stories surrounding poems, deals with the circumstances in which a poem was composed or performed, and explores the concept of poetic competence in Chinese culture. This pioneering study alerts readers to careful considerations about the complex social meaning of poetry in ancient and medieval China, a topic mostly avoided in histories of Chinese literature.

  • Huang Bajing 黃拔荊. Zhongguo ci shi (中國詞史). Fuzhou, China: Fujian renmin chubanshe, 2003.

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    History of the ci genre from its beginning during the Tang dynasty until the end of the Qing. Includes a special chapter on women during the Ming and the Qing dynasties.

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  • Kubin, Wolfgang. Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur. Vol. 1, Die chinesische Dichtkunst von den Anfängen bis zum Ende der Kaiserzeit. Munich: Saur, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783598441103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Combines historical narrative with translated poems (but without the Chinese original) and is a good readable introduction to the standard treatment of the topic. Major attention is paid to earlier periods. The six hundred years after the Song period are summarized on less than thirty pages. Of the fu poets, only Sima Xiangru is mentioned.

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  • Lu Kanru 陸侃如 and Feng Yuanjun 馮沅君. Zhongguo shi shi (中國詩史). 3 vols. Beijing: Zuojia chubanshe, 1956.

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    Originally published in 1936; still in print though outdated in many respects. The 1956 edition censures all explicit reference to Hu Shi and Western Sinology. The self-criticism of the authors in the preface reflects the ideological pressure under which Chinese scholarship found itself after 1949.

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  • Sanders, Graham. Words Well Put: Visions of Poetic Competence in the Chinese Tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.

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    Studies various uses of shi poetry in social life in ancient China, as revealed in sources from Zuozhuan to Ben shi shi.

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  • Watson, Burton. Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry from the Second to the Twelfth Century, with Translations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

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    Good standard introduction. Tells a straightforward story, which the latest scholarship, however, sometimes deconstructs. Readable translations and interpretations of poems are included. Of these the extensive discussion of the “nineteen old poems” summarizing different traditional interpretations is especially valuable.

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  • Yan Dichang 嚴迪昌. Qing shi shi (清詩史). 2 vols. Taibei: Wunan tushu chuban gongsi, 1998.

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    Standard history of shi during the last dynasty. No index, only a detailed table of contents. Detailed, chronologically arranged narrative is preceded by three chapters dealing with the general characteristics of Qing-dynasty poetry, including the immediately preceding situation during the late Ming (pp. 1–54). Later editions published in the People’s Republic of China.

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  • Yoshikawa Kōjirō. Five Hundred Years of Chinese Poetry, 1150–1650: The Chin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties. Translated by John Timothy Wixted. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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    Standard introduction to otherwise less studied periods. Translation of a book originally written in Japanese: Yoshikawa Kōjirō 吉川幸次, Gen-Min shi gaisetsu (元明詩概説) (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1963). In the afterword William Atwell makes a critical assessment of Yoshikawa’s understanding of Chinese history.

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  • Zhao Minli 赵敏俐 and Wu Sijing 吴思敬, eds. Zhongguo shige tongshi (中国诗歌通史). Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 2012.

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    General history from Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) to the beginning of the 21st century, prepared at the Beijing Shoudu shifan daxue (Center for Chinese Poetry Studies). It consists of ten volumes arranged chronologically plus one volume on the poetry of non-Han nationalities. The editors emphasize (1) the participation of non-Han nationalities in Chinese poetic culture, (2) formal aspects, (3) the reestablishment of the continuity of tradition in the modern era, and (4) the position of Chinese poetry in the global context.

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Traditional Poetry in General Histories of Literature

In general histories of Chinese literature, poetry is given ample space. Chang and Owen 2010 brings into the story up-to-date scholarship, provides a balanced view of poetry in all genres and periods, and convincingly challenges the May Fourth stereotypes. A comprehensive and informative history of traditional Chinese literature was published in ten volumes by Renmin wenxue chubanshe (Zhongguo wenxue tongshi xilie 1991–2006). Fu and Jiang 2005 is a seven-volume survey of classical Chinese literature in its wider social and cultural context. There are separate chapters on poetry (further subdivided according to the traditional genres) in each period volume. Both histories were written by scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and represent the best of Chinese scholarship.

  • Chang, Kang-i Sun, and Stephen Owen, eds. The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    Volume 1 goes to 1375; Volume 2 takes the discussion from 1375. Arranged chronologically and carefully structured. In some chapters, poetry is merged with other genres; other chapters are subdivided along genre divisions. Index and glossary of Chinese characters (but no characters in the text). Well-selected bibliography. Includes early-21st-century scholarship and often differs from general histories of literature published in Chinese.

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  • Fu Xuancong 傅璇琮 and Jiang Yin 蒋寅, eds. Zhongguo gudai wenxue tonglun (中国古代文学通论). 7 vols. Shenyang, China: Liaoning renmin chubanshe, 2005.

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    Each period volume is divided into three parts: literature itself (subdivided according to genres), literature in relation to the social and cultural contexts (information on religion, philosophy, and literary criticism is also summarized here), and primary sources. Also provides a useful summary of the existing scholarship and a bibliography of select secondary sources in Chinese.

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  • Zhongguo wenxue tongshi xilie (中国文学通史系列). 10 vols. Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1991–2006.

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    General history of Chinese literature, in ten volumes arranged chronologically along the standard periodization according to dynastic change. Separate chapters for genres and poets. Each volume was written by different authors and was published independently.

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Reference Works

In Chinese, nomenclature studies of traditional poetry consist of a number of fields, each with its own reference works and guides. The production of Chinese scholars is enormous, and it is impossible to provide a simple overview of all the publications from one point of view. On the other hand, Western scholarship on traditional Chinese poetry is treated in reference works as part of the wider topic of Chinese literature. There is also rich Japanese scholarship on traditional Chinese literature that in the past, when resources published in China were limited and hard to access, was basic for Western Sinologists. As the situation in Chinese scholarship changes, this is no longer the case for beginning scholars; however, scholars going deeper into specific subjects should be aware of the importance of Japanese research. For more information on this, the first handbook to be consulted is Wixted 1992 (cited under Guides to Scholarship).

Guides and Encyclopedias

Two English-language handbooks are available on traditional Chinese literature: Nienhauser, et al. 1986 and Nienhauser, et al. 1998 on the subject as a whole, and Knechtges and Chang 2010- on the early period. These publications also include bibliographic information on sources and research in Chinese, Japanese, and Western languages. The critical review of Nienhauser, et al. 1986 in Knechtges and Chang 1987 is worth consulting, though the majority of the flaws and omissions were made up for later in the Taipei printing of and in the addenda and corrigenda in Nienhauser, et al. 1998. Qian, et al. 1999 and Ma and Li 1991, two large Chinese dictionaries of literature, provide detailed information on names, works, and terminology, covering material often not included in Western handbooks but lacking information on Western scholarship. Both also cover the modern period and the literature of “national minorities.” Qian, et al. 1999 seems to be especially dedicated to entries on traditional poetry, though both dictionaries are equally rich in information. Apart from general dictionaries of language and literature, specialized dictionaries dedicated to period genres, such as Wang 1990a or Wang 1990b, have been published. These contain specific vocabulary, allusions, information on scholarship, bibliographies, and so on.

  • Knechtges, David R., and Taiping Chang. “Notes on a Recent Handbook for Chinese Literature.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 107.2 (1987): 293–304.

    DOI: 10.2307/602837Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical review of Nienhauser, et al. 1986. Points out in detail omissions, typos, and other flaws.

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  • Knechtges, David R., and Taiping Chang, eds. Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature: A Reference Guide. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010-.

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    Alphabetically arranged guide to ancient and early medieval Chinese literature. Conscious focus is on literary aspects in each entry. Names, official titles, genres, and book and poem titles. Extensive bibliographies of sources, translations, and research. Part 1 contains entries from A to R. Indispensable for the ancient and early medieval periods.

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  • Ma Liangchun 马良春 and Li Futian 李福田, eds. Zhongguo wenxue da cidian (中国文学大辞典). 8 vols. Tianjin, China: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1991.

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    A large dictionary of Chinese literature (both traditional and modern), with thirty-three thousand entries (names, titles, schools, groups, and journals). Covers all periods and includes literature of the minorities as well as that of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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  • Nienhauser, William H., Jr., Charles Hartman, Y. W. Ma, and Stephen H. West, eds. The Indiana Companion to Classical Chinese Literature. Vol. 1. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

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    A comprehensive Western-language handbook on Chinese literature. Entries on poetry genres, poets, anthologies, and critical concepts. Contains an extensive introductory chapter on poetry, by Charles Hartman. Includes also a bibliography of primary and secondary sources and translations. Second revised edition, Taipei: SMC, 1988; later printings also available.

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  • Nienhauser, William H., Jr., Charles Hartman, and Scott W. Galer, eds. The Indiana Companion to Classical Chinese Literature. Vol. 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

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    Consists of bibliographic updates to entries in Nienhauser, et al. 1986 plus sixty-three new entries on important authors, texts, styles, and groups. Cross-references to Nienhauser, et al. 1986.

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  • Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯, Fu Xuancong 傅璇琮, Wang Yunxi 王運熙, Zhang Peiheng 章培恆, Chen Bohai 陳伯海, and Bao Keyi 鮑克怡, eds. Zhongguo wenxue da cidian (中國文學大辭典). Taizhong, Taiwan: Jianhong chubanshe, 1999.

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    Personal names, literary groups, book titles, traditional criticism, historical sources. Annotated bibliography of major literary histories (books about poetry placed in the beginning of each section), chronology of literary events, bibliography. Indispensable for identification of less common data. Reprinted in 2000 (Shanghai: Cishu chubanshe).

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  • Wang Hong 王洪, ed. Tang shi baike da cidian (唐诗百科大辞典). Beijing: Guangming ribao chubanshe, 1990a.

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    Encyclopedic dictionary of Tang shi 詩 (verse) poetry, prepared by leading scholars. Contains a language dictionary that includes allusions (arranged alphabetically), information on various aspects of Tang culture and on Tang poetry criticism and modern scholarship, biographies of poets, a short anthology of representative poems with commentaries, and a selection of famous often-quoted verses.

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  • Wang Hong 王洪, ed. Tang Song ci baike da cidian (唐宋词百科大辞典). Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1990b.

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    Encyclopedic dictionary of Tang and Song ci 詞 (song) lyrics, prepared by leading scholars. Contains a language dictionary that includes allusions (arranged alphabetically); information on modern scholarship, traditional criticism, music, religion, and customs; and official titles. Contains a short anthology of representative poems, with commentaries and a selection of famous often-quoted verses.

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Guides to Scholarship

No up-to-date bibliography in a Western language specializes in traditional poetry scholarship. Nienhauser, et al. 1986; Nienhauser, et al. 1998; and Knechtges and Chang 2010- are good guides to scholarship. Mair 2001 has a good bibliography divided according to genres. In Chinese there are many bibliographies specialized according to genres or even individual poets, but they are more suitable for doctoral candidates than for beginning students. To get a clear idea of advances in Chinese poetry studies, research guides to Chinese literature in general should be consulted first, such as Ershi shiji Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu (Zhang and Lü 2001). Bibliographies of the most-important scholarship, classified by genre, are included in Fu and Jiang 2005 (appended at the end of each volume). Wixted 1992 includes important Japanese scholarship, including biographical data on the researchers. A bibliography of important Japanese research on Chinese traditional poetry spanning the period from 1900 to 2007 is in Hu and Qiu 2009, published in China.

  • Fu Xuancong 傅璇琮 Jiang Yin 蒋寅, eds. Zhongguo gudai wenxue tonglun (中国古代文学通论). 7 vols. Shenyang, China: Liaoning renmin chubanshe, 2005.

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    English subtitle inside the book is A Survey of Classical Chinese Literature. This general history of Chinese literature contains short chapters in each volume that are dedicated to an overview of Chinese scholarship on individual genres.

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  • Hu Jianci 胡建次 and Qiu Meiqiong 邱美琼. Riben xuezhe Zhongguo gudian shixue yanjiu zhuyao wenxian mulu: 19002007 (日本学者中国古典诗学研究主要文献目录: 1900–2007). Nanchang, China: Baihuazhou wenyi chubanshe, 2009.

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    Chronologically arranged bibliography with a partial thematic classification supplemented with a list of the most-important works translated into Chinese and a list of concordances to Chinese poetry published in Japan. Collects rich information; unfortunately lacks index and is not convenient to search.

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  • Knechtges, David R., and Taiping Chang. Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature: A Reference Guide. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010-.

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    Alphabetically arranged guide to ancient and early medieval Chinese literature. Each entry has an extensive bibliography of primary sources, translations, and research. With this handbook, studies in early medieval China will become much more accessible. Part 1 contains entries from A to R.

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  • Mair, Victor H., ed The Columbia History of Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

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    This extensive history of Chinese literature, consisting of independent essays of uneven quality, is provided with an up-to-date classified bibliography, mostly of literature in English. Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) is under “Classics”; Chu ci 楚辭 (Songs from Chu) and fu 賦 (rhapsody, rhymed prose) are under “Elegies and Rhapsodies.”

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  • Nienhauser, William H., Jr., Charles Hartman, Y. W. Ma, and Stephen H. West, eds. The Indiana Companion to Classical Chinese Literature. Vol. 1. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

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    Standard reference work for traditional Chinese literature. Bibliography in each entry plus a general bibliography of Chinese literature studies. Second revised printing, Taipei: SMC, 1999.

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  • Nienhauser, William H., Jr., Charles Hartman, and Scott W. Galer, eds. The Indiana Companion to Classical Chinese Literature. Vol. 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

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    Addenda and corrigenda for Volume 1 (Nienhauser, et al. 1986). Sixty-three new entries and an updated bibliography for entries in Volume 1.

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  • Wixted, John Timothy, comp. Japanese Scholars of China: A Bibliographical Handbook. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1992.

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    Offers bibliographic and biographical information on 1,644 scholars in different fields of China studies in Japan, including many important figures in studies of Chinese poetry. Pays special attention to English and other Western-language material about their scholarship: book-length translations, book reviews, and summaries. Eight indexes and numerous cross-references.

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  • Ji Xianlin季羡林, Zhang Yanjin 张燕瑾, and Lü Weifen 呂薇芬, eds. Ershi shiji Zhongguo wenxue yanjiu (20 纪中国文学研究). 10 vols. Beijing: Beijing chubanshe, 2001.

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    Overview of 20th-century Chinese scholarship on traditional literature. Arranged by dynasties in twelve volumes (20th century is in separate volume) and further divided according to authors and works.

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Bibliographic Resources

Research from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the latest publications, is most easily accessed through the China Academic Journals Full-Text Database, an electronic database provided by the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI). A full view of publications in Chinese can be obtained from the database. However, it is not always easy, especially for a beginner in the field, to get a quick orientation in the vast amount of retrieved material. Information on research articles published in Taiwan is available in two databases prepared by the National Central Library in Taipei. Journal articles are in Index to Taiwan Periodical Literature System, and articles collected in essay anthologies, conference volumes, festschrifts, and the like are in Taiwan Humanities Indexes. Only a smaller number of the articles are available in full text.

Language Tools

Reading traditional poetry may sometimes be very difficult. The best dictionary is the twelve-volume Hanyu da cidian (Luo 1986–1994). Taiwan National Science Council Digital Library and Museum contains electronic dictionaries based on selected works of traditional philosophy and literature, including the Complete Tang Poems. There are also specialized dictionaries for the language of the Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) (Yang 2012), Chu ci 楚辭 (Songs from Chu) (Yuan 2000), and later genres. Gu and Lu 1992 covers less common vocabulary from Tang and Song shi 詩 (verse) and ci 詞 (song, lyric) poetry, including colloquial expressions, cultural vocabulary of the period, and allusions. Allusions from Tang poetry are collected in Fan and Wu 2001, and allusions in Song ci are gathered in Jin 1991. Special problems are presented by the names of plants frequently mentioned in poetry. Pan 2001 is generally regarded as the most convenient handbook on the topic, though some identifications are disputable.

  • Fan Zhilin 范之麟 and Wu Gengshun 吴更舜, eds. Quan Tang shi diangu cidian (全唐诗典故辞典). Wuhan, China: Hubei cishu chubanshe, 2001.

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    The dictionary for allusions, with the richest data. The sources and usage in Tang poetry are identified. Unfortunately, searching according to number of strokes in a character is not very convenient. Originally published in 1989.

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  • Gu Guorui 顾国瑞 and Lu Zunwu 陆尊梧, eds. Tangdai shi ci yuci diangu cidian (唐代诗词语词典故词典). Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 1992.

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    Dictionary of special vocabulary and allusions encountered in Tang poetry. Unlike the majority of other similar dictionaries, it is arranged alphabetically, which makes searching easier.

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  • Luo Zhufeng 罗竹风, ed. Hanyu da cidian (漢語大詞典). 12 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai hanyu da cidian chubanshe, 1986–1994.

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    A large dictionary for literary Chinese. Incorporates also early dictionaries of specialized poetic vocabulary. Arranged by radicals; alphabetical index in a separate volume. Electronic version available for purchase. The electronic Handian 漢典 based on this dictionary is free online. (Handian sometimes gives English equivalents, but these are not always relevant to literary Chinese.)

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  • Jin Qihua 金启华, ed. Quan Song ci diangu kaoshi cidian (全宋词典故考释辞典). Changchun, China: Jilin wenshi chubanshe, 1991.

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    Dictionary for allusions encountered in Song ci.

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  • Pan Fujun 潘富俊. Shi jing zhiwu tu jian (詩經植物圖鑑). Taibei: Maotouying chubanshe, 2001.

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    Latin names enable precise identification (though sometimes it is disputable). Poems in which the plant name appears are quoted and explained. Illustrated with photographs. Continued in Tang shi zhiwu tujian (唐詩植物圖鑑) (2001) and Chu ci zhiwu tu jian (楚辭植物圖鑑) (2002).

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  • Taiwan National Science Council Digital Library and Museum.

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    Contains dictionaries focused on premodern texts, enabling searches for individual characters and words; with exemplary sentences but no English equivalents. Except for the character dictionary (zidian), other parts need special environment to be readable.

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    • Yang Heming 杨合鸣. Shi jing cidian (诗经词典). Wuhan, China: Chongwen shuju, 2012.

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      Dictionary of characters, words, and some repeated phrases explained in their special usage in the Shi jing.

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    • Yuan Mei 袁梅. Chu ci cidian (楚辭詞典). Jinan, China: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe, 2000.

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      Dictionary of characters, words, and some repeated phrases explained in their special usage in the Chu ci.

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    Primary Sources

    With the exception of the Dunhuang manuscripts, the majority of primary sources for the study of traditional Chinese poetry were collected and edited by Chinese scholars over millennia in individual authors’ collections, anthologies, and collectanea. Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) occupied a special position as part of the Confucian canon.

    Collections of Works by Individual Authors

    Traditional critical editions (printed since the Song period) with textual glosses, explanatory notes and other commentaries, prefaces, and colophons accumulate centuries of research and interpretation. In the early 21st century the commentaries themselves are becoming an object of research. The most-important annotated traditional editions are sometimes printed as photo facsimiles of the originals (i.e., without punctuation). The best traditional editions are used as base texts for modern punctuated critical editions. The two most important series are Zhongguo gudian wenxue jiben congshu, published by Zhonghua shuju in Beijing, and Zhongguo gudian wenxue congshu, from Shanghai guji chubanshe. Both editions use very similar format; they differ mainly in selection of titles. Zhonghua shuju also publishes a series of research materials on individual authors (Gudian wenxue yanjiu ziliao huibian).

    • Gudian wenxue yanjiu ziliao huibian (古典文學研究資料彙編). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962–.

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      Comprehensive collections of biographical and other research material, including comments from traditional criticism. So far twenty-eight titles have been published, dealing with some of the most famous poets (Sima Xiangru, Tao Yuanming, Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Su Shi, Li Qingzhao) and lesser-known personalities.

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      • Zhongguo gudian wenxue congshu (中國古典文學叢書). Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1978–.

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        Critical editions of traditional literature, including poetry, similar in format to Zhongguo gudian wenxue jiben congshu. The selections of titles complement each other. Nonsimplified characters, modern punctuation, information on textual variants, and, depending on the title, also philological glosses. Biographical introductory chapters included.

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        • Zhongguo gudian wenxue jiben congshu (中國古典文學基本叢書). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1977–.

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          Critical editions of traditional literature (prepared mostly by contemporary scholars, sometimes new printings of Qing-dynasty editions), poetry being a substantial part in it. Uses nonsimplified characters, modern punctuation, information on textual variants, and philological glosses. Titles also contain biographical introductory chapters of various lengths.

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          Collectanea and Anthologies

          Large collectanea contain the majority of traditional poetry as it has been preserved. The practice started during the imperial era and has continued into modern times. Anthologies have been compiled in China since the very beginning of its literature (the ancient Shi jing is in fact an anthology of poetry), and this practice is still favored. Out of the vast number of traditional anthologies, the 6th-century Wen xuan 文選 was the most influential. A large anthology of Yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau verse) songs compiled during the Song period is also an important source for studies of early medieval and Tang poetry.

          Siku quanshu 四庫全書

          The most comprehensive collection of primary sources for traditional literature studies is the Siku quanshu 四庫全書, compiled on imperial command in the late 18th century. The best editions of authors’ collections and other material were collected and carefully edited by court scholars, who also provided each work with a concise annotation (tiyao 提要), still used as basic information on the author and his or her work. Poetry, with the exception of the Shi jing, is in the Ji 集 (Collections) section. Included are anthologies and individual collections, predominantly of genres regarded as high in traditional China (shi 詩 [verse], yuefu, fu 賦 [rhapsody, rhymed prose]). A limited number of ci 詞 (song, lyric) anthologies are also included (for description of these see Xia 1956). Siku quanshu is available online from the Eastview Information Services.

          • Siku quanshu. Eastview Information Services.

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            This electronic edition is conveniently equipped with a character dictionary and additional biographical and bibliographic data. Text can be displayed in full text or as the original image. CD-ROM editions can be purchased from China. Available for purchase or by subscription.

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            • Xia Chengtao 夏承燾. “Siku quanshu ciji luncong” (四庫全書詞籍論從). In Tang Song ci luncong (唐宋詞論叢). By Xia Chengtao 夏承燾, 212–237. Shanghai: Gudian wenxue chubanshe, 1956.

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              A chapter in a collection of essays on ci lyric. Provides information on anthologies of ci lyrics that were, despite the low status of the genre, included in the imperial collection Siku quanshu. Republished as recently as 2001 (Bei, China: Dingwen shuju).

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            Quan Tang shi 全唐詩

            The most comprehensive collection of Tang shi is the Quan Tang shi (Complete poems of the Tang), prepared between 1705 and 1707 at the demand of the Kangxi emperor. It contains nearly fifty thousand poems by more than twenty-two hundred poets. It is useful as a convenient repository of nearly all existing Tang poetry, but because it has many textual errors, it should be used together with separate good collections of the poet’s work. There is a standard typeset edition from the Zhonghua shuju publishing house in twenty-five volumes, first printed in 1960 (Peng 1960). Addenda collected from various sources were also published (Wang, et al. 1982). A printed author index covers both the original Quan Tang shi and the addenda (Zhang 1983). Also, a series of concordances to individual poets included in Quan Tang shi were published (Luan 1991). Now the printed version is overshadowed by online searchable databases, of which there are many of various quality and reliability. The best searchable database of Quan Tang shi with pronunciation, rhyme, and pingze annotations was prepared in the Department of Chinese Studies at Beijing University (Quan Tang shi fenxi xitong). This can be used only by those who are registered at Beida. A good database available for free is Yuan Ze University in Chung-Li.

            • Luan Guiming 欒貴明, ed. Quan Tang shi suoyin (全唐詩索引). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1991.

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              A series of concordances to Tang poetry based on Quan Tang shi. Thirty volumes dedicated to individual poets (in some cases two or more in one volume) were published, some in collaboration with other publishing houses. Enables locating words and verses.

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            • Peng Dingqiu, ed. Quan Tang shi (全唐詩). 25 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1960.

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              Typeset punctuated edition. No commentaries. Author index and printed concordances available (Zhang 1983). Later printings exist.

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            • Quan Tang shi fenxi xitong (全唐詩分析系統). Department of Chinese Studies, Beijing University.

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              Provides text of the Complete Tang Poems, with information on pingze and rhymes. Fully searchable according to several options. Information about the website, including contact for trial version or purchase online.

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              • Wang Zhongmin 王重民, Sun Wang, and Tong Yangnian, eds. Quan Tang shi wai bian (全唐詩外編). 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1982.

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                Collection of addenda to the original Quan Tang shi, starting with the Quan Tang shiyi (全唐詩逸) by Ichikawa Kansai 河世寧 (b. 1749–d. 1820). Includes also poems from Dunhuang and poems by several Japanese and Korean visitors to Tang China.

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              • Yuan Ze University in Chung-Li.

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                Provides modern pronunciation (in twenty-four dialects, if needed) but no information on traditional rhymes and pingze. Gives some references to allusions. Sometimes textual errors occur. Links to Twenty-Five Histories and Thirteen Classics databases at Academia Sinica.

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                • Zhang Chenshi 張忱石. Quan Tang shi zuozhe suoyin (全唐詩作者索引). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983.

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                  Enables easy location of all poems by individual poets included both in the Zhonghua shuju edition of Quan Tang shi (Peng 1960) and in the addenda in Quan Tang shi wai bian (Wang, et al. 1982).

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                Other Complete Editions

                Several complete collections of Chinese poetry were edited in the 19th and 20th centuries, each dedicated to one genre. For ancient and early medieval shi 詩 (verse) poetry, see Lu 1983 (fu 賦 [rhapsody, rhymed prose] of the same period was regarded as prose in the 19th century, when it was included in Yan 1958). Chen, et al. 1997 is a modern typeset edition of Yan 1958. A convenient source on Han fu is Gong and Su 2011. Other period genres are gathered in modern collectanea modeled after the Quan Tang shi (Tang 1965, Sui 1964). Complete shi poems of the Song dynasty have been edited and published (Fu and Xu 1991–1998) and are available also online.

                • Chen Yanjia 陈延嘉, Wang Tongce, and Zuo Zhenkun, eds. Quan shanggu sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen (全上古三代秦汉三国六朝文). 10 vols. Zhangjiakou, China: Hebei jiaoyu chubanshe, 1997.

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                  Modern punctuated edition in ten volumes of Yan 1958. Uses simplified characters and includes an index.

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                • Fu Xuancong 傅璇琮 and Xu Yimin 许逸民, eds. Quan Song shi (全宋诗). 72 vols. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 1991–1998.

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                  Complete shi poems of the Song dynasty. Prepared by scholars from Gudian wenxian yanjiusuo at Beijing University. Searchable electronic database for those registered at Beida. Information about the website, including contact for trial version, is available online.

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                • Gong Kechang 龚克昌 and Su Ruilong 苏瑞隆. Liang Han fu ping zhu (两汉赋评注). Jinan, China: Shandong daxue chubanshe, 2011.

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                  Carefully annotated collection of Han fu, including fragments, and with explicatory commentaries. Prepared by leading scholars in the field of fu studies.

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                • Lu Qinli 逯欽立. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi (先秦漢魏晉南北朝詩). 3 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983.

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                  Collection of all shi and yuefu poetry dated before the Tang dynasty. Punctuated, with useful commentary on textual variants and personal comments by the editor on authenticity. Indispensable for the period.

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                • Sui Shusen 隋樹森, ed. Quan Yuan sanqu (全元散曲). 5 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1964.

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                  Collection of all surviving qu (arias) from the Yuan dynasty. Basic source for the genre. Republished as recently as 2004 (Taibei: Hanjing wenhua chuban).

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                • Tang Guizhang 唐圭璋, ed. Quan Song ci (全宋詞). 5 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965.

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                  Reprint of an edition prepared in the 1930s. New revised edition in simplified characters was published by Zhonghua shuju in 1999. It is available in several electronic versions for free. A popular high-school student website is the most convenient to use (can search poet, titles, and verses), but it uses simplified characters.

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                • Yan Kejun 嚴可均, ed. Quan shanggu Sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen (全上古三代秦漢三國六朝文). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1958.

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                  Compendium of pre-Tang prose, including fu; originally completed in 1836. Photocopy of the first printed version from 1893 (xylograph). Several later printings exist from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Japan, some with indexes. Modern punctuated editions are available (e.g., Chen, et al. 1997). Republished as recently as 2009 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe).

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                Yuefu shi ji 樂府詩集

                Basic source for the yuefu songs is Guo 1979. It contains all poems classified as the yuefu genre, both by anonymous and well-known poets, composed since the Han dynasty and until the end of the Tang and the Five Dynasties. Several searchable electronic versions are available on the Internet for free. It is recommended to use the electronic database prepared by Shifan daxue in Taipei at the Hanji Electronic Databases website at Academia Sinica, also known as Scripta Sinica.

                Wen xuan 文選

                Wen xuan 文選 (Anthology) is the most important source for pre-Tang literature, including poetry. It was compiled at the court of Xiao Tong, the Crown Prince Zhaoming (hence it is sometimes called Zhaoming Wen xuan), in the early 6th century. A modern, carefully prepared, punctuated critical edition is Xiao 1986. David R. Knechtges is working on a complete annotated translation into English. It is an ongoing project, with three volumes published by 2013. The first volume includes detailed information on the anthology, editions, and translations (see Knechtges 1982–1996, cited under Chinese Anthologies Translated into English). Shiba 1957–1959 is a concordance to the Wen xuan prepared by a noted Japanese scholar. It is possible to search names, titles, lines, and individual words.

                • Shiba Rokurō 斯波六郎. Monzen sakuin (文選索引). 4 vols. Kyoto: Kyōto daigaku jinbun kagaku kenkyūjo, 1957–1959.

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                  A concordance to the original Hu Kejia Wen xuan (this edition was the base text for Xiao 1986). Republished as recently as 1997 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe).

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                • Xiao Tong 蕭統. Wen xuan (文選). 5 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986.

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                  Punctuated Hu Kejia (Song dynasty) edition with Li Shan commentary. (Later printings exist.) General index in the last volume (personal names and titles of literary works). Reliable, free electronic version of this edition is accessible online, though the database is not fully searchable. It is included also in the Academia Sinica electronic database in the section Renwen ziliaoku shi sheng ban (人文資料庫師生版), Hanji Electronic Databases.

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                Modern Students’ Anthologies in Chinese

                Many modern anthologies of traditional poetry have been published in China and Taiwan, partly following the tradition as it evolved in late imperial China. They are annotated and are especially suitable for a beginning student, providing indispensable information on the language, allusions, and reading conventions. A standard anthology for pre-Tang poetry is Yu 2009 (first published in 1958). Qian 1958 had a decisive impact on the development of scholarly interest in Song-dynasty shi 詩 (verse) poetry. For Tang poetry, various editions of the Qing popular Tang shi sanbai shou (Three hundred Tang poems) are the best introductions, and they are frequently republished with modern annotations and commentaries. Yu 2010 provides rich annotations in the spirit of traditional reading, yet using easily accessible language, and is regarded as the best introductory reading. Popular websites with Tang shi sanbai shou intended for high-school students or children abound. Tang shi sanbai shou at Yuan Ze University in Taiwan is convenient to use, has annotations for pingze, and has several other functions, including links to an electronic dictionary for each character. After the Cultural Revolution a new type of popular anthology known as the “appreciation dictionaries” (jianshang cidian 鑑賞辭典) became popular among Chinese readers. Following the generally accepted genre classification, these “dictionaries” select representative texts and provide them with explanatory essays. The first publication of this kind appeared in 1983 and was devoted to Tang poetry, confirming the importance of the genre in Chinese culture (Xiao, et al. 1983). Usually these dictionaries also contain brief biographies of the poets and bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. Among numerous publications of this type, the series published by Shanghai cishu chubanshe is regarded as the best (e.g., Miao 1987, Tang 1988, Qian 1994). All are published in simplified characters.

                • Miao Yue 缪钺. Song shi jianshang cidian (宋诗鉴赏辞典). Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1987.

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                  Selects 1,040 poems by 253 Song poets and provides them with explanatory essays. Arranged chronologically. Several supplements: short biographies of poets, chronology of the poems embedded in historical events, bibliography of editions and criticism on Song shi, indexes to famous verses and to poem titles, maps of Northern and Southern Song.

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                • Qian Zhonglian 钱仲联. Yuan Ming Qing shi jianshang cidian (元明清诗鉴赏辞典). Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1994.

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                  Collects representative poems from later periods of shi history. Volume 1 covers the Liao, Jin, Yuan, and Ming periods; Volume 2 is dedicated to the Qing period (including the early republic). Explanatory essay for each poem, short biographies, bibliography, and indexes in the supplements.

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                • Qian Zhongshu 錢鍾書. Song shi xuan zhu (宋詩選注). Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1958.

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                  Selected are poems by the best-known Song poets. The selection partly reflects period interest in realism and country folk. Includes an introduction on the genre, notes on language, and biographies of the authors. A pathbreaking anthology. Republished as recently as 2007 (Beijing: Shenghuo dushu xinzhi sanlian shudian).

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                • Tang Guizhang 唐圭璋. Tang Song ci jianshang cidian (唐宋词鉴赏辞典). 2 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1988.

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                  Includes 1,518 lyrics by 327 poets in two chronologically divided volumes: Tang, Five Dynasties, and Northern Song in Volume 1; Southern Song, Liao, and Jin in Volume 2. Supplements include short biographies of poets, a bibliography of Song ci 詞 (song, lyric) editions and criticism, indexes to famous verses and poem titles, and an introduction to ci poetics.

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                • Tang shi sanbai shou (唐詩三百首). Yuan Ze University, Taiwan.

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                  Designed as a tool for children to learn Tang poetry. Contains information on pingze and rhymes, pronunciation in twenty-two different dialects, and links to a Chinese-language dictionary. Also includes short biographies of the poets. Searchable according to several criteria.

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                  • Xiao Difei 萧涤非, Cheng Qianfan, Ma Maoyan, et al. Tang shi jianshang cidian (唐诗鉴赏辞典). Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 1983.

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                    Selects over one thousand poems by 196 poets and provides them with explanatory essays. Arranged chronologically. Several supplements: short biographies of poets, chronologies of the poems embedded in historical events, bibliography of editions and criticism on Tang poetry, index to poem titles, maps of Tang China and the capital Chang’an. Reprinted as recently as 2004.

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                  • Yu Guanying 余冠英. Han Wei Liuchao shi xuan (汉魏六朝诗选). Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 2009.

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                    Each poem has detailed annotations on language issues. Biographies of the poets are added. Good as an introduction to master the language. First published in 1958.

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                  • Yu Shouzhen 喻守真. Tang shi sanbai shou xiangxi (唐詩三百首詳析). Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 2010.

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                    The commentary uses colloquial language and is easy to understand, yet it still presents the traditional way of explaining a poem and appreciating its aesthetic qualities. Each poem is also provided with notations for pingze and rhyme. Since first published in 1948, it has been republished many times in the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere. Best introductory reading.

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                  Anthologies of Poetry in English Translation

                  There are many anthologies in English translation, either of Chinese poetry or of Chinese literature in general, with considerable parts dedicated to poetry. The translations are usually supplemented with introductory chapters on Chinese literature, historical background, and basic data on the authors. Most of the anthologies also have extensive bibliographies of English-language publications in the field. Liu and Lo 1975 gives the best general idea of traditional Chinese poetry, in all its forms and historical development, that was available in English translation at the time of its publication. Chaves 1986 collects poetry from the lesser-studied periods of Yuan, Ming, and Qing, while Lo and Schultz 1986 concentrates exclusively on the Qing period. A substantial part of Owen 1996 is also poetry.

                  • Chaves, Jonathan, trans. and ed. The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry: Yuan, Ming, and Ch’ing Dynasties (1279–1911). New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

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                    Representative selection of poetry from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, which has been mostly neglected both in anthologies and scholarship. Good concise introduction on the period. No Chinese text, but all sources are identified.

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                  • Liu, Wu-chi, and Irving Yucheng Lo, eds. Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry. Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1975.

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                    The most comprehensive in terms of time span covered. Has an extensive bibliography on English-language material.

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                  • Lo, Irving Yucheng, and William Schultz, eds. Waiting for the Unicorn: Poems and Lyrics of China’s Last Dynasty, 1644–1911. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.

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                    The most comprehensive collection of poetry (shi 詩 [verse] and ci 詞 [song, lyric]) from the last dynasty (some late Ming poets are also included). Introduction containing background information on history, society, politics, and poetry of the period. Biographies of the poets and brief characteristics of their achievements. Bibliographic appendix.

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                  • Owen, Stephen, ed. and trans. An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York: Norton, 1996.

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                    Chronological arrangement is supplemented with thematic links across time to suggest the web of meanings in which literature was written and read in premodern China. With an excellent classified bibliography of translations and critical studies selected with a pedagogical focus.

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                  Chinese Anthologies Translated into English

                  A traditional anthology is interesting also as a whole and a representation of the canon in a certain period. Four traditional Chinese anthologies are translated (or partly translated) into English (Shi jing and Chu ci not counted). Knechtges 1982–1996 provides the early-6th-century Wen xuan 文選, the most important anthology of Chinese literature. Birrell 1982 is a full annotated translation of a collection of mostly love verse from approximately the same period. Fusek 1982 is a complete translation of the late-10th-century anthology of ci 詞 (song) lyrics. Also, several popular translations exist of the Tang shi sanbai shou (e.g., Waters, et al. 2011); some versions for the general reader are also available online for free (e.g., Wengu zhixi). These are especially convenient for undergraduate students to get a first flavor of an anthology, but they should be used with caution.

                  • Birrell, Anne, ed. and trans. New Songs from a Jade Terrace: An Anthology of Early Chinese Love Poetry. London: Allen & Unwin, 1982.

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                    Full annotated translation of the early-6th-century anthology Yu tai xin yong (玉台新詠). With an informative introduction and bibliography.

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                  • Fusek, Lois, trans. Among the Flowers. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982.

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                    Anthology of early ci lyrics, Hua jian ji (花間集), which gave the name to a later poetic style. With an informative introduction and bibliography.

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                  • Knechtges, David R., ed. and trans. Wen xuan; or, Selections of Refined Literature. 3 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982–1996.

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                    Translations of the medieval anthology Wen xuan 文選, on which later literary anthologies were modeled. Detailed introductions, annotations, biographies, and bibliographies by Knechtges make the translation essential reading for studies of early Chinese poetry and culture. Three volumes have been published.

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                  • Waters, Geoffrey R., Michael Farman, and David Lunde, trans. Three Hundred Tang Poems. Buffalo, NY: White Pine, 2011.

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                    A popular translation stressing artistic values in the translation. Includes bibliographic references. Introduction by Jerome P. Seaton.

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                  • Wengu zhixin (溫 故 知 新).

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                    Amateur website in English and French. Provides full texts of the poems in nonsimplified characters and is linked to CEDICT, the Chinese-English dictionary (designed for modern Chinese, not taking into account the differences in wenyan [literary language]). Translations mostly old, by Witter Bynner (English) and Marquis d’Hervey Saint-Denys (French); not always reliable.

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                    Textbooks

                    Cai 2008 is a systematic introduction to all genres, arranged chronologically from Shi jing (Book of odes) to poetry of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Cui and Cai 2012 is a complementary volume designed in language textbook format. Earlier textbooks of Chinese poetry deal exclusively with Tang poetry (Hawkes 1994, Stimson 1976). Stimson 1976 is preoccupied with the linguistic aspects, including reconstructed medieval pronunciation and grammatical structures. For a better understanding of the language and meter, Wang 1979 should be consulted, though this was written as a linguistic study, not a textbook. Similarly, Jiang 1990 provides a thorough description of the language of Tang shi 詩 (verse) and is an invaluable help for reading some notoriously difficult Tang poets such as Du Fu. Yu, et al. 2000 is an anthology of interpretations, demonstrating the application of different modern methodologies on ancient Chinese texts; two chapters are dedicated to poetry.

                    • Cai, Zong-qi, ed. How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

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                      A selection of 143 famous poems arranged chronologically, according to genre, and topically. Provides detailed information about the genre, representative topics, and authors. Includes exemplary poems in Chinese and in English translation. Based on up-to-date scholarship. Includes a bibliography and a link to a sound recording (modern-style recitation).

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                    • Cui, Jie, and Zong-qi Cai. How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

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                      Contains twenty thematically defined chapters introducing poetry, beginning with the Shi jing through the Song dynasty ci 詞 (song, lyric). Arranged as a language textbook with pinyin transcriptions; notes on rhymes and pingze, vocabulary, and grammar; cultural background information; and cross-references to Cai 2008. Translations into modern Chinese. Questions and exercises for students included.

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                    • Hawkes, David. A Little Primer of Tu Fu. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994.

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                      Contains thirty-five chronologically arranged poems by Du Fu, one of the most famous Tang poets, representing different periods and genres. Characters, pinyin, notes on language, biographical and cultural background, and translations of the poems in prose. Basic as an introduction for reading Du Fu. New printing of the original Oxford University Press 1967 edition.

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                    • Jiang Shaoyu 蒋绍愚. Tang shi yuyan yanjiu (唐诗语言研究). Zhengzhou, China: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe, 1990.

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                      Gives a systematic description of the language in Tang poetry, with a focus on irregularities in the syntax and stylistic devices. This otherwise excellent book unfortunately does not have an index.

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                    • Stimson, Hugh M. Fifty-Five T’ang Poems: A Text in the Reading and Understanding of T’ang Poetry. New Haven, CT: Yale University, Far Eastern Publications, 1976.

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                      Anthology of fifty-five Tang-dynasty poems (mostly High Tang) in different forms. Texts in Chinese characters, also transcribed phonetically (uses simplified reconstructed Middle Chinese pronunciation), with translation and line-by-line commentaries. Contains an introductory chapter on Middle Chinese pronunciation and on grammar (on grammar, Jiang 1990 is more complete and instructive).

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                    • Wang Li 王力. Hanyu shilüxue (漢語詩律學). Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe, 1979.

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                      Gives systematic information on meter and syntax. Points out the relationship with vernacular language. Also discusses stylistic devices and modes of presentation. All popular handbooks on the topic published in China are derived from this book. With many quoted examples but unfortunately without an index. Originally published in 1958 (Shanghai: Xinzhishi chubanshe); republished as recently as 2007 (Shanghai: Shanghai jiaoyu chubanshe).

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                    • Yu, Pauline, Peter Bol, Stephen Owen, and Willard Peterson, eds. Ways with Words: Writing about Reading Texts from Early China. Studies on China 24. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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                      Translations of several texts important for Chinese culture, accompanied by interpretative essays approaching each text from two different methodological perspectives. Poetry is represented by a poem from the Shi jing and a long poem by Du Fu.

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                    Journals

                    Much of the traditional poetry scholarship is scattered in journals publishing generally on premodern China or Chinese literature or in some cases in narrowly specialized Chinese-language journals. General journals in English and French languages most frequently publishing articles on traditional Chinese poetry are Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, T’oung Pao, and Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, but important articles may appear in any journal publishing on premodern China. Early China sometimes has articles on Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes) and Chu ci 楚辭 (Songs from Chu). Early Medieval China and T’ang Studies also publish work on poetry of that period. The only Chinese journal exclusively devoted to poetry is Zhongguo shige yanjiu. A journal dedicated exclusively to premodern literature in general is Wenxue yichan. Taiwan and Hong Kong humanities journals also frequently contain studies on Chinese poetry.

                    Shi jing 詩經

                    Shi 詩 (odes, poems) later became Shi jing 詩經 (Book of odes, Classic of poetry, Book of songs), the oldest anthology of Chinese poetry, dated roughly between 1000 and 600 BCE. Shi jing studies have a long premodern tradition as part of the study of Confucian classics. Gradually, interpretative commentaries were gathered around the book, and different schools of interpretation of the elusive verses were formed. With the creation of the Confucian canon under the Han dynasty, the so-called Mao school gradually attained the status of orthodoxy. In 1919 Marcel Granet for the first time rejected the traditional Confucian reading and presented a new interpretation from an anthropological perspective (Granet 1932). This approach remains influential in the early 21st century, though many scholars express doubts about it. Under the impact of the May Fourth movement, Chinese literary history also rejected the commentarial tradition, perceiving it as Confucian ideology imposed on the original meaning of the poems, and started to study Shi jing (mainly its Guo feng part) as an ancient collection of folk songs. In English this approach is best represented in Wang 1974. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries there has been a trend, apparent mainly in Western scholarship, to go back to the commentarial tradition and to explore it as a source of understanding early Chinese literature in its original context. An illuminating discussion of the issue of reading Shi jing through its traditional commentaries as a political allegory in the Confucian ideology is in Zhang 1987. Traditional reading of the poems as political allegory and moral lesson is the main concern of Van Zoeren 1991 and other studies that followed. Ancient interpretations alternative to the orthodox Mao school were studied quite early in Hightower 1952, which translates fragments of one alternative––the Han school of Shi jing teaching. Asselin 1997 discusses another alternative––the Lu school as it was preserved in fragmentary evidence. Another development of Shi jing studies is partly nourished by the excavated manuscripts (e.g., Staack 2010). Social use of the poems in pre-Han China and their relation to state ritual is a topic explored in Kern 2000. Love songs in Shi jing are the object of research on gender in early China (see Rouzer 2001 and Chin 2006, both cited under Gender and Women’s History).

                    • Asselin, Mark Laurent. “The Lu-School Reading of ‘Guanju’ as Preserved in an Eastern Han Fu.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 117.3 (1997): 427–443.

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                      “Guanju” is the first song in Shi jing, an epithalamium, which in traditional exegesis is understood as having a didactic message. This study examines the fragmentary evidence of the Lu school of interpretation of this message and shows the difference in comparison with the Mao commentary orthodoxy.

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                    • Granet, Marcel. Festivals and Songs of Ancient China. Translated by E. D. Edwards. London: Routledge, 1932.

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                      Combines philology with anthropology of religion and gives what was at that time a radically new interpretation still influential in Shi jing studies, including in China. The French original was published in 1919. It is available online in French at the Université du Quebec à Chicoutime (UQUAC) website.

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                    • Hightower, James R., ed. and trans. Han Shi Wai Chuan: Han Ying’s Illustrations of the Didactic Application of the Classic of Songs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952.

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                      Annotated translation of the fragments remaining from the Han school of Shi jing exegesis. Introduces an interpretation that was later dismissed by the orthodox discourse on Shi jing, and illustrates the mechanisms of the traditional didactic and political manipulation of the poems.

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                    • Kern, Martin. “Shi Jing Songs as Performance Texts: A Case Study of ‘Chu Ci’ (Thorny Caltrop).” Early China 25 (2000): 49–112.

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                      Explores one poem from the Xiao ya section and demonstrates the close relationship between the poems in Shi jing and state ritual in ancient China.

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                    • Staack, Thies. “Reconstructing the Kongzi shilun: From the Arrangement of the Bamboo Slips to a Tentative Translation.” Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques 64.4 (2010): 857–906.

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                      Systematic textual analysis of presumably Shi jing–related excavated material, with the aim to reconstruct an earlier reading of Shi jing. With a translation.

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                    • Van Zoeren, Steven. Poetry and Personality: Reading, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics in Traditional China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.

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                      Traces the history of interpretation of Shi jing in China and gives a good introduction to traditional hermeneutics as it evolved through the Song Neo-Confuciansim. Relevant also to studies of Chinese poetics.

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                    • Wang, C. H. The Bell and the Drum: Shih Ching as Formulaic Poetry in an Oral Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

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                      Applies the Parry-Lord hypothesis of the oral-formulaic nature of early Western, mostly epic poetry and makes Shi jing poetry an example of oral formulaic composition in China. Many Western scholars do not follow this path of inquiry, especially after the Parry-Lord hypothesis was challenged in general.

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                    • Zhang Longxi. “The Letter or the Spirit: The Song of Songs, Allegoresis, and the Book of Poetry.” Comparative Literature 39.3 (1987): 193–217.

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                      Explains the tradition of Shi jing allegorical reading in historical perspective and using parallels from biblical exegesis. Written in a lucid and persuasive way. Good as an introduction to this otherwise difficult topic.

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                    Translations

                    The first complete English translation of Shi jing was published by James Legge in 1871 (Legge 2000). Legge collaborated with Confucian scholars, and his translation was influenced both by the orthodox Confucian interpretation and by his own missionary background–cum–19th-century rationalism. In 1937 Arthur Waley, combining Sinological erudition with a feeling for modernist poetry, published what is regarded as the most satisfactory English translation (Waley 1996). Bernhard Karlgren, however, was critical of many of Waley’s interpretations and provided a translation based on detailed philological study of the text and traditional glosses to it (Karlgren 1950). This translation lacks literary ambition, but it is the most respected from the language analysis point of view. Pound 1954 is a poet’s translation based on earlier works by Sinologists. Though not very close to the Chinese original, it deserves attention as excellent poetry and as an example of the impact of early Chinese poetry on Western literature.

                    • Karlgren, Bernhard, ed. and trans. The Book of Odes. Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1950.

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                      The translation is informed by Karlgren’s interest in the linguistics and culture of early China. Uses his own reconstruction of the pronunciation of the time and includes numerous commentaries on the language.

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                    • Legge, James. The Chinese Classics. Vol. 4, The She King; or, The Book of Poetry. Taipei: SMC, 2000.

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                      Reprint of the original edition from 1871, with the Chinese original and detailed philological notes. The orthodox commentaries are also presented, though Legge dismisses some of them as Confucian fantasy. Long introductory chapter on history, textual history, meter and rhyme, and so forth. There are several editions and later reprints. A free version of the 1876 edition, printed without Chinese characters and the larger part of the commentaries, is available online.

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                    • Pound, Ezra. The Confucian Odes: The Classic Anthology Defined by Confucius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954.

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                      Translation by the American poet Pound, who was also an admirer of Confucianism and Chinese poetry. Pound did not work directly with Chinese originals, but his renditions are regarded as poetically satisfying though not always philologically exact. Introduction by Achilles Fang. Republished as recently as 1970 (New York: New Directions).

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                    • Waley, Arthur, trans. The Book of Songs: The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry. Edited by Joseph R. Allen. New York: Grove, 1996.

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                      The most popular translation into English, regarded as a perfect balance of scholarship and poetry, though scholars working on ancient China generally avoid it. New edition is rearranged and supplemented with the fifteen poems Waley originally omitted. Prepared by Joseph R. Allen and with a foreword by Stephen Owen.

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                    Chu ci 楚辭

                    Chu ci 楚辭 (Songs from Chu, Songs of the south) is the second ancient anthology of poetry. It is noted for its fantastic imagery and tone of passion, unfulfilled longing, and frustration. The greater part of the poems in the anthology is attributed to Qu Yuan, a poet and statesman from the southern state of Chu. During the Han dynasty the poems were collected and provided with a commentary reading them as an expression of Qu Yuan’s frustration and of political allegory. Modern Chu ci scholarship first rejected such a reading and became interested in the supposed religious and shamanistic background of the poems. The main authority in English, Hawkes 1985, reads the poems in this way. Hawkes 1974 follows the creation of a distinct Chu ci style in later Chinese poetry, through the secularization of ancient religious traditions. The impact of the Chu ci form, themes, and imagery on later genres is also studied, especially its relationship with Han fu 賦 (rhapsody, rhymed prose) and the topos of “scholar’s frustration.” A radically different approach to the anthology is expressed in Ch’en 1973, which reads Qu Yuan from the perspective of comparative philosophy as an expression of a new concept of time and individuality. For his reading, Ch’en Shih-hsiang uses philological argument in the spirit of Qing evidential scholarship. The commentaries to Chu ci and political allegory became the object of later research. Waters 1985 studies the commentaries and refuses the shamanistic interpretation that monopolized modern scholarship. Geoffrey R. Waters’s analysis is not regarded as successful by reviewers, but the importance of opening this topic is acknowledged. Liao Dongliang in several publications studies different approaches to Chu ci by traditional Chinese scholars and reconstructs the process of creation and transformations of its canonical reading. Liao 2008 is a comprehensive study of the traditional commentaries. The study of traditional commentary also brings into focus the phenomenon of anthology and authorship (Chan 1998). This path of exploration, related to the popular reception studies in the history of Chinese literature, is also at the basis of the English-language monograph on Chu poetry, Sukhu 2012. On the basis of a critical reading of the Wang Yi commentary and confronting it with archaeological data and knowledge about late Warring States history and culture, Gopal Sukhu gives a new reading of Li Sao and Qu Yuan lore. Despite the importance of the anthology in Chinese culture, there is very little scholarship in the West, while Chinese and Japanese scholarship abounds. For a convenient, classified, select bibliography, see the Songs of Chu (Chuci): A Bibliography from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

                    • Chan, Tim Wai-Keung. “The Jing/Zhuan Structure of the Chuci Anthology: A New Approach to the Authorship of Some of the Poems.” T’oung Pao 84.4–5 (1998): 293–327.

                      DOI: 10.1163/1568532982630723Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Explores in detail the structure of the anthology and formulates a new hypothesis about its genesis and authorship.

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                    • Ch’en Shih-hsiang. “The Genesis of Poetic Time: The Greatness of Ch’ü Yuan, Studied with a New Critical Approach.” Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies n.s. 10.1 (1973): 1–43.

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                      Focus is on Qu Yuan as the first individual author in Chinese literature and his new concept of time, present also in later Chinese poetry. Represents an important trend in post–World War II scholarship informed both by Chinese and Western traditions.

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                    • Hawkes, David. “The Quest of the Goddess.” Paper presented at a research conference held in Bermuda in January 1967. In Studies in Chinese Literary Genres. Edited by Cyril Birch, 42–68. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

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                      A seminal article on Li Sao and its impact on Han imperial poetry.

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                    • Hawkes, David, ed. and trans. Ch’u Tz’u: The Songs of the South. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1985.

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                      First published by Oxford University Press in 1959. This is the only reliable full translation of the anthology, and it is used whenever reference is made to Chu ci in English-language scholarship. With commentary and introduction on the genre and Qu Yuan’s biography.

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                    • Liao Dongliang 廖棟樑. Lunli, lishi, yishu: Gudai Chu ci xue de jiangou (倫理,歷史,藝術:古代楚辭學的建構). Taibei: Liren shuju, 2008.

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                      Identifies three approaches to Chu ci in traditional scholarship (ethical, historical-biographical, and aesthetic) and provides a detailed study of different readings of the book in the Chinese tradition. Informed by reception theories.

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                    • Schimmelpfenning, Michael. The Songs of Chu (Chuci): A Bibliography. University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

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                      A well-selected classified bibliography of primary sources and the most-important scholarship. Refers also to important reference works. Continually updated.

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                      • Sukhu, Gopal. The Shaman and the Heresiarch: A New Interpretation of the Li Sao. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012.

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                        Detailed study of Li Sao in its historical, social, and cultural context. Uses new archaeological material and other historical sources to deconstruct the Wang Yi interpretation. It offers an entirely new reading of the poem, including its relationship to the Qu Yuan lore. Contains new translations of Li Sao and the Nine Songs, traditionally also attributed to Qu Yuan.

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                      • Waters, Geoffrey R. Three Elegies of Ch’u: An Introduction to the Traditional Interpretation of the Ch’u tz’u. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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                        Translates the first three poems of the Jiu ge cycle together with the four earliest commentaries and reconstructs the Confucian political reading. Critics point to overinterpreting and misreading of the original. Should be read with the review by Charles Hartman in Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 10.1–2 (1988): 167–175.

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                      The Beginnings of Pentasyllabic Poetry

                      Much attention in Chinese poetry studies has been devoted to the beginnings of the pentasyllabic shi 詩 (poetry, verse) genre and Chinese lyrical poetry during the Han dynasty and its relation to the anonymous Han yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau verse). The yuefu are often believed to be songs of common origin that gradually evolved into the five-syllable shi poetry later designated as gu shi 古詩, or ancient poems. While Chinese scholarship mostly keeps a clear line between the yuefu and the ancient poems, late-20th- and early-21st-century Western scholarship tends to study both genres together. The rationale for this change of attitude is studies demonstrating that the genre division is a product of the Six Dynasties period. Among the five-syllable poetry traditionally attributed to the Han dynasty (either as yuefu or as gu shi) are also several longer narrative poems, a less studied form rather exceptional in Chinese written poetry in general.

                      Yuefu 樂府

                      Yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau songs, ballads) is one of the genres usually representing Han-dynasty poetry believed to be related to the practice of collecting common people’s verses by court officials, with the aim of examining the feelings of the people. Until the late 20th century, yuefu were studied mostly as examples of formulaic oral compositions. The classic treatment of this topic in English is presented in several articles by Hans Frankel (e.g., Frankel 1974). Birrell 1993 is a selection of translations from the Yuefu shi ji, with commentaries. It is the most comprehensive treatment of the topic in English, though reviewers have pointed out that the presentation of Han yuefu as songs of common origin is one sided. Diény 1968 concentrates on the relationship of yuefu with music and on their place in Eastern Han court culture. Allen 1992 challenges the idea of folk origins and brings into the focus of yuefu scholarship the practice of variation and imitation during improvisations of poetry at social gatherings of the Southern Dynasties aristocracy. Egan 2000a and Egan 2000b convincingly deconstruct the idea of the origin of the genre among common people. In parallel, Owen 2006 reexamines the rise of pentasyllabic poetry in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, with special focus on the role of the yuefu understood as a literati genre. Kern 1997 challenges the folk origin concept on different grounds and points to a close relation between the original Han-dynasty yuefu category and state ritual.

                      • Allen, Joseph R. In the Voice of Others: Chinese Music Bureau Poetry. Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies 63. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1992.

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                        First major work challenging the understanding of the beginnings of the genre in anonymous folk songs. Argues that yuefu is primarily a written literati genre that began only between the 4th and 6th centuries CE and that older anonymous songs of common provenance were included retroactively into the genre category after it was established.

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                      • Birrell, Anne. Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1993.

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                        The most extensive study in a Western language of Han yuefu, with a rich anthology of translations and bibliography. Uses the folk origins approach because it is also common in China. Basic for beginners, though new research such as Egan 2000a and Egan 2000b challenges some of the assumptions.

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                      • Diény, Jean-Pierre. Aux origines de la poésie classique en Chine: Étude sur la poésie lyrique à l’époque des Han. Monographie du T’oung Pao 6. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1968.

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                        Collects rich evidence from primary sources, textual and archaeological. Contains annotated translations of the earliest songs.

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                      • Egan, Charles H. “Reconsidering the Role of Folk Songs in Pre-T’ang Yüeh-fu Development.” T’oung Pao 86.1–3 (2000a): 47–99.

                        DOI: 10.1163/15685320051072681Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Together with Egan 2000b, in a persuasive manner deconstructs the idea of common origins of the yuefu genre and becomes a new basis for its study.

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                      • Egan, Charles H. “Were Yüeh-fu Ever Folk Songs? Reconsidering the Relevance of Oral Theory and Balladry Analogies.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 22 (2000b): 31–66.

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                        Together with Egan 2000a, in a persuasive manner deconstructs the idea of common origins of the yuefu genre and becomes a new basis for the study of the genre in the West.

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                      • Frankel, Hans H. “Yüeh-fu Poetry.” Paper presented at a research conference held in Bermuda in January 1967. In Studies in Chinese Literary Genres. Edited by Cyril Birch, 69–107. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

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                        Concentrates on the songs believed to be of folk origin. Studies them in detail in terms of themes and formal features and in comparison with European balladry. With numerous translations.

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                      • Kern, Martin. Die Hymnen der chinesischen Staatsopfer: Literatur und Ritual in der politischen Repräsentation von der Han-Zeit bis zu den Sechs Dynastien. Stuttgart: Steiner, 1997.

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                        Follows the beginnings of yuefu in songs of state ritual in the Western Han. Argues that the ritual dimension was still important during the Six Dynasties, favoring the idea that the common origin of the songs was conceptualized only later.

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                      • Owen, Stephen. The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry. Harvard East Asian Monographs 261. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.

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                        Studies early poems emerging from the Han and Wei periods, describing them as of composite nature. Challenges the idea of single authorship and a clear chronological sequence, claiming that the poems dated to early periods and took on their final shape only during the 5th and 6th centuries.

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                      Gu shi 古詩

                      The language and style of early gu shi 古詩 (ancient poems) are close to yuefu 樂府, but until the late 20th century the two were treated as separate genres. The majority of the preserved gu shi, whose authorship is unknown or whose traditional attributions are subject to doubt, were gathered in the Wen xuan 文選 anthology under the title Gu shi shijiu shou (Nineteen ancient poems, Nineteen old poems). A commentarial tradition evolved that read them in terms of political allegory. A modern edition of Gu shi shijiu shou, including collected traditional exegeses and commentaries, is Zhang 1988. Diény 2010 provides a carefully annotated translation with insightful commentaries, also on the allegorical reading. Watson 1971 gives an easily accessible introduction for the beginning student to the poems and their different readings. Kao 1994 studies what the author regards as a new poetic mode established by Gu shi shijiu shou, understood as decisive for the specific Chinese lyrical tradition. New insights into the supposed process of transformation from folk Han yuefu to the anonymous “Nineteen old poems” and further to the poetry of Cao Zhi (b. 192–d. 232 CE) and Ruan Ji (b. 210–d. 263 CE) are in Cai 1996.

                      • Cai, Zong-qi. The Matrix of Lyric Transformation: Poetic Modes and Self-Presentation in Early Chinese Pentasyllabic Poetry. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1996.

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                        Presents the thematic, formal, and generic transformation from the “dramatic mode” of Han yuefu to the “narrative mode” used in the literati circles. Includes a detailed discussion of Gu shi shijiu shou, Cao Zhi, and Ruan Ji.

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                      • Diény, Jean-Pierre, ed. and trans. Les dix-neuf poèmes anciens. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2010.

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                        Carefully annotated translation, including a discussion of traditional commentaries. First published in 1963. Referred to also in Watson 1971.

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                      • Kao, Yu-kung. “The Nineteen Old Poems and the Aesthetics of Self-Reflection.” In The Power of Culture: Studies in Chinese Cultural History. Edited by Willard J. Peterson, Andrew H. Plaks, and Ying-shih Yü, 80–102. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1994.

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                        Formulates a definition of the “Nineteen old poems” as a “reflexive mode” of poetry and a milestone in the development of Chinese poetry aesthetics. An important contribution to the ongoing debate about Chinese lyricism.

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                      • Watson, Burton. Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry from the Second to the Twelfth Century, with Translations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

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                        Contains a full translation of the “Nineteen old poems,” accompanied by a discussion of different readings. Recommended as the first reading for undergraduate students.

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                      • Zhang Qingzhong 張清鍾, ed. Gu shi shijiu shou hui shuo shangxi yu yanjiu (古詩十九首彙說賞析與研究). Taibei: Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1988.

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                        A comprehensive edition of the “Nineteen old poems.” Each poem is accompanied by collected traditional commentaries on its meaning and style and traditional criticism, followed by a detailed study by the editor on the origins, authorship, dating, ideology, form, and evaluation.

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                      Early Narrative Poetry

                      While Chinese poetic tradition is usually characterized as lyrical (see Kao 1994, cited under Gu shi 古詩), several longer narrative poems are also preserved among the Han yuefu and early five-syllable shi. Levy 1988 concentrates on these and brings a different perspective on early Chinese poetry. Dore J. Levy is interested in yuefu in its narrative mode and follows the development of Chinese narrative poetry through the late Tang dynasty. In doing so she also offers a less common interpretation of the fu 賦 (rhapsody, rhymed prose) genre. Frankel 1974 presents the longest narrative poem in Chinese high literature, “Kongque dongnan fei” (Southeast fly the peacocks), as an example of formulaic language characteristic of the yuefu. This approach has been criticized for imposing some problematic Western concepts on Chinese material. Frankel 1983 studies poetry by the woman poet Cai Yan, who lived in the last years of the Han dynasty, including her long autobiographical poem “Beifen shi” (Poem of lament and resentment).

                      • Frankel, Hans H. “The Chinese Ballad ‘Southeast Fly the Peacocks.’” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 34 (1974): 248–271.

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                        Complete text, translation, and formal analysis of the longest narrative poem prior to the Tang dynasty. Refers also to oral-formulaic theory, which the author also applies to early yuefu.

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                      • Frankel, Hans H. “Cai Yan and the Poems Attributed to Her.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 5.1–2 (1983): 133–156.

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                        Uses textual analysis to contest the authenticity of three extant poems attributed to the late Han woman poet Cai Yan. Includes full translations of the poems.

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                      • Levy, Dore J. Chinese Narrative Poetry: The Late Han through T’ang Dynasties. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988.

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                        The book challenges the basic concept of Chinese poetry as lacking narrative genres. It aroused controversy involving the problem of using Western concepts for description of Chinese literature.

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                      Fu

                      During the Ming and Qing periods, fu 賦 (variously called rhyme prose, prose poem, or rhapsody in English) was regarded as prose and was not studied or anthologized with poetry. The May Fourth template of Chinese literary history ascribed the fu genre to the Han (in modern language often called Han fu) and partly follows the previous classification as prose. Modern scholars of Han literature were until the late 20th century more interested in yuefu as a folk genre than in the aristocratic fu. Only after 1980 was the genre rehabilitated in China, and since then it has become a field on its own in studies of Chinese literature. A representative example of the best Chinese scholarship is available in English translation in Gong 1997, which is a series of essays on various aspects of the genre during the Han dynasty, translated by scholars in the field and carefully annotated. Hervouet 1964 is a monograph on the Western Han master of the fu genre, Sima Xiangru (b. 179–d. 127 BCE), on the basis of a detailed study of his biography in the Shiji by Sima Qian. It includes translations of some of his poems and may also serve as a complex introduction to the genre during the Western Han. Kern 2003 refutes the established concept of Han fu and argues that during the Han dynasty it was not yet a well-defined genre as it is known in the early 21st century. Knechtges 2002 brings together essays on various aspects on fu, studied in specific historical context. David Knechtges is also the author of the annotated English translation of Wen xuan, which contains the representative examples of the genre written before the early 6th century (see Wen xuan 文選 and Chinese Anthologies Translated into English). After the Han period, fu was still regarded as a prestigious genre. Graham 2008 is a book-size annotated translation of a long fu by Yu Xin (b. 513–d. 581 CE) that presents the famous “Lament for the South” composed in the form of Han fu after 557 CE and that gives an idea of the complexity of the genre as it evolved by that time. During the Six Dynasties the genre of Han fu was transformed, and shorter compositions in which description merges with personal expression came into existence. The general idea is that the genre transformation occurred under the impact of shi lyrical poetry “dominating” the period. This understanding of the genre evolution is represented in Watson 1971. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the relationship of the fu genre with the lyrical shi has been discussed from a reversed perspective, especially when the impact of the fu style on early landscape shi poetry is considered (Gao 1996). An innovative approach to fu is in Owen 1979, in which an annotated translation of a short lyrical fu by Yu Xin is confronted with several Tang poems that borrowed imagery from Yu Xin’s fu. Stephen Owen’s observation is intended as a general remark about thematic connections in Chinese poetry across periods and genres. Fu was practiced in later periods, and its form underwent further transformations, but these are generally studied only in the context of monographs on individual poets or are used as source material for historical writing.

                      • Gao Lifen 高莉芬. “Fu dui Xie Lingyun shanshui shi chuangzuo jiqiao zhi yingxiang” (賦對謝靈運山水詩創作技巧之影響). In Di san jie Zhongguo shixue huiyi lunwenji: Wei Jin Nanbeichao shixue (第三屆中國詩學會議論文集: 魏晉南北朝詩學). Edited by Guoli Zhanghua shifan daxue guowenxue xi Zhongguo shixue huiyi choubei weiyuanhui 國立彰化師範大學國文學系中國詩學會議籌備委員會, 27–62. Zhanghua, Taiwan: Guoli Zhanghua shifan daxue, 1996.

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                        Through a formal analysis of poetry by Xie Lingyun (b. 385–d. 433 CE), demonstrates the previously neglected impact of fu poetics on the lyrical shi genre.

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                      • Gong Kechang. Studies on the Han Fu. Translated and edited by David R. Knechtges, with Stuart Aque, Mark Asselin, Carrie Reed, and Su Jui-lung. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1997.

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                        Comprehensive introduction to the field. Extensive bibliography of sources and research in Chinese, English, and German. The informative review by Martin Kern, “Studies on the Han Fu by Gong Kechang; David R. Knechtges,” in Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 22 (2000): 150–155, places the book in the wider context of fu studies.

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                      • Graham, William T., Jr. “The Lament for the South”: Yü Hsin’s “Ai Chiang-nan fu.” Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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                        Translation embedded in a complex study of the history of the period, the evolution of the genre, and its formal and linguistic features.

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                      • Hervouet, Yves. Un poète de cour sous les Han: Sseu-ma Siang-jou. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964.

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                        A detailed study of the author’s life and work. Includes passages on the history and geography of early Han China and a detailed study of Sima Xiangru’s fu, including the language and formal features of his poetry. Includes annotated translations and bibliography.

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                      • Kern, Martin. “Western Han Aesthetics and the Genesis of the Fu.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 63.2 (2003): 383–437.

                        DOI: 10.2307/25066708Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Uses a variety of sources, including excavated manuscripts, and historicizes the meaning of fu during the Han dynasty.

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                      • Knechtges, David R. Court Culture and Literature in Early China. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2002.

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                        A collection of the most important research articles published on the fu in English. Covers various aspects of the topic.

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                      • Owen, Stephen. “Deadwood: The Barren Tree from Yü Hsin to Han Yu.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 1.2 (1979): 157–179.

                        DOI: 10.2307/823503Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Translation of Yu Xin’s “Fu on the Barren Tree” (“Ku shu fu”), followed by translations of several Tang poems drawing inspiration from Yu Xin’s poem. Demonstrates the general practice of intertextuality in Chinese poetry across genre boundaries and brings an argument in favor of continuity from Six Dynasties to the Tang.

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                      • Watson, Burton, trans. Chinese Rhyme-Prose: Poems in the Fu Form from the Han and Six Dynasties Periods. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.

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                        Anthology of translations, with an introduction on the history of the genre. Illustrates the process of transformation and lyricization of the genre during the Six Dynasties.

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                      Early Medieval shi

                      The period from the Han to the Tang dynasties is regarded as crucial for the development of traditional Chinese poetry. The field was originally dominated—and in China still is—by research on pentasyllabic shi 詩 (verse) and yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau verse) (see the Beginnings of Pentasyllabic Poetry). Chang 1986, in a comprehensive history of pre-Tang shi poetry, introduces the most-famous poets and through their work discusses the beginnings of thematically defined subgenres, such as nature or court poetry. There are numerous studies on the genre of nature poetry from this period. Holzman 1998 contains a detailed discussion of the topic, including references to earlier scholarship. New perspectives on the period are in Mei 1997, which through several case studies discusses mainly social poetry of the early period. Important topics related to early medieval poetry are covered in articles by Donald Holzman (e.g., Holzman 1998) and in a collection of articles dedicated to this scholar and to Richard B. Mather (Kroll and Knechtges 2003). The “life and works” format dominated the field until the late 20th century. Several monographs of this type on individual poets provide a complex picture of early medieval poetry, including social and historical background. Holzman 1976 is on Ruan Ji (b. 210–d. 263 CE) as a poet amid political turmoil and personal crisis of loyalty. Frodsham 1987 is a study on the life and poetry of Xie Lingyun (b. 385–d. 433 CE), the poet credited with the creation of nature poetry as a distinct genre. Much attention is given to Tao Qian, also known as Tao Yuanming 陶淵明 (b. 365–d. 427 CE). Late-20th- and early-21st-century scholarship combines close readings and considerations of traditional poetics with studies of the society and cultural practices, including religion, and is informed by methodologies borrowed from cultural studies. Tian 2005 (cited under Tao Yuanming 陶淵明) brings into the field the idea of a fluid manuscript culture and offers a new reading of Tao Yuanming, the most popular poet of the period. Tian 2007, a groundbreaking study, turns attention to the less studied Liang period and contextualizes poetry in contemporaneous social and cultural practices. This book also rehabilitates an important period in the history of Chinese poetry, which has been mostly underestimated. Mather 2003 is a masterpiece of traditional Sinology that still has a strong position in the field. Its full, annotated translation of a group of late-5th-century poets, among them Xie Tiao (b. 464–d. 499 CE), the second most important nature poet before the Tang dynasty, maps out the space in which important development of the shi genre took place.

                      • Chang, Kang-i Sun. Six Dynasties Poetry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

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                        Overview of the period, from Tao Yuanming to palace poetry. Special chapter on nature poetry. A general history of the period, presenting the canonical view. With translations and commentaries on the most-famous poems. Recommended as introductory reading.

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                      • Frodsham, John D. The Murmuring Stream: The Life and Works of the Chinese Nature Poet Hsieh Ling-yün (385–433), Duke of K’ang-Lo. 2 vols. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1987.

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                        Monograph on the poet credited with the creation of nature poetry. Study of the poet’s life in the context of political history, followed by annotated translations of poems. Also discusses the impacts of Buddhism and Daoism on the poet. Originally published in 1967.

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                      • Holzman, Donald. Poetry and Politics: The Life and Works of Juan Chi, A.D. 210–263. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

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                        The “life and works” format addresses a more general issue of political allegory in Chinese poetry. Contains analysis and annotated translations of Ruan Ji’s numerous poems.

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                      • Holzman, Donald. Chinese Literature in Transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1998.

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                        Collection of essays mostly on literary history that were originally published in various sources, spanning forty years of research. The author combines philology with intellectual and cultural history. Includes the most-detailed interpretation, in any Western language, of the rise of nature poetry as a distinct genre.

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                      • Kroll, Paul W., and David R. Knechtges, eds. Studies in Early Medieval Literature and Cultural History: In Honor of Richard B. Mather and Donald Holzman. Provo, UT: T’ang Studies Society, 2003.

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                        Collection of essays on diverse topics, addressing textual, religious, and social aspects of medieval Chinese poetry. Presents the latest scholarship up to its publication and new insights into the period. Contains a bibliography of the two scholars to whom the volume is dedicated.

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                      • Mather, Richard B. The Age of Eternal Brilliance: Three Lyric Poets of the Yung-ming Era (483–493). 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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                        Volume 1, Shen Yüeh (441–513); Volume 2, Hsieh T’iao (464–499) and Wang Jung (467–493). Full translations of the three most important poets of the Yongming era, contextualized in biographies and political history. The translations are provided with extensive annotations on difficult allusions and intertextual borrowings. Makes important primary sources on the period, often difficult to read, widely available.

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                      • Mei Jialing 梅家玲. Han Wei Liuchao wenxue xin lun: Nidai yu zengda pian (漢魏六朝文學新論: 擬代與曾答篇). Taibei: Liren shuju, 1997.

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                        Includes studies of social poetry during the Jian’an period, social poetry by Xie Lingyun and by the Lu brothers, and the motif of the “longing wife” in late Han and Jin literature. Reprinted in 2004 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe).

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                      • Tian, Xiaofei. Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007.

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                        An extensive study on Liang-dynasty poetry. Poetry is studied both on its own terms and in relationship to its social context. Also discusses the impact of Buddhism on new poetic styles.

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                      Tao Yuanming 陶淵明

                      Tao Yuanming 陶淵明 (b. 365–d. 427 CE), known also as Tao Qian 陶潛, is one of the most revered poets in the Chinese tradition and one of the most extensively studied. For a complete translation of his poetry into English, with basic biographical information, see Hightower 1970. The translator also devotes several articles to the poet in Hightower and Yeh 1998. James Robert Hightower’s monograph remains unsurpassed in its simplicity and direct contact with the poems, though more biographical and historical information is in Kwong 1994. A monograph on the poet in Chinese, reflecting late-20th- and early-21st-century research and providing new insights based on careful study of primary sources, is Cai 2012. Tian 2005 examines the received text of Tao Yuanming and on this basis discusses the practice of constructing a poet’s personality through his writings and vice versa, reading poems through a biography of the poet. This results in new understandings both of the fluidity of the medieval texts and the poet in the context of his time. The interplay between poetry and biography constructed on this basis is also a topic of Swartz 2008, which follows the process throughout the imperial period.

                      • Cai Yu 蔡瑜. Tao Yuanming de renjing shixue (陶淵明的人境詩學). Taibei: Lianjing chubanshe, 2012.

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                        Combines close reading and philological analysis with methods of intellectual and cultural history. The most complex treatment in Chinese language of this important poet, with new insights into his poetry on the basis of careful contextualization in his period.

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                      • Hightower, James Robert, ed. and trans. The Poetry of T’ao Ch’ien. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970.

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                        Annotated anthology of translated poems, with an introduction on the poet. The translation presents a perceptive reading of Tao Yuanming’s poetry and should be read with Hightower’s other research on the poet published as articles and collected in Hightower and Yeh 1998.

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                      • Hightower, James Robert, and Florence Chia-ying Yeh. Studies in Chinese Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1998.

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                        Collection of earlier articles by both authors. Contains two articles on Tao Yuanming on the topic of “drinking wine,” for which Tao is famous, and on allusions.

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                      • Kwong, Charles Yim-tze. Tao Qian and the Chinese Poetic Tradition: The Quest for Cultural Identity. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1994.

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                        First part is preoccupied with Tao’s thought in the context of his life and the intellectual conflicts of the period, understood as Confucianism versus Daoism. Second part deals with Tao’s poetic art, studied in a traditional way as a projection of his moral and philosophical ideals.

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                      • Swartz, Wendy. Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427–1900). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008.

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                        Swartz follows the reception of Tao Yuanming and the construction of his personality in biographies and other sources throughout the imperial period. Instructive also about stereotypes of Tao Yuanming that prevailed in the Chinese popular imagination until modern times.

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                      • Tian, Xiaofei. Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture: The Record of a Dusty Table. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.

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                        Compares different textual versions, shows the instability of the text, and explores what this means for the established understanding of the poet. The search for an “authentic” Tao Yuanming (understood as impossible to fully achieve) is grounded in the intellectual currents of his time.

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                      The Tang

                      The Tang dynasty is regarded as an apogee of Chinese poetry, and in Western minds Tang poetry is sometimes identified with Chinese poetry as such. During the Tang dynasty, all forms of shi 詩 (verse) poetry reached maturity, including lüshi 律詩 (regulated verse) and jueju 絕句 (quatrain), both in pentasyllabic and heptasyllabic forms. Kao and Mei 1971 is a linguistic study of Tang regulated verse that reveals the relationship between syntax and imagery. The period has a traditionally established division into four parts (early, High, Middle, and late Tang), with three poets of the High Tang (Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu) regarded as the greatest. Luo 1987 is helpful for quick reference and a general overview. Owen 1977 and Owen 1981 are literary histories for the early and High Tang periods. The traditional hierarchy of the four Tang periods has been challenged, and gradually the mid-Tang period has become regarded as more creative and diversified than the traditionally acclaimed High Tang. Mid-Tang poetry is often studied from the perspective of the changing social position and values of the literati. Yang 2003, using poems about gardens and related topics, explores what the author (following Stephen Owen) calls the creation of a private sphere for the literati as it further developed into the Northern Song. Owen 1985 brings into discussions of Tang poetry a perspective of comparative poetics, emphasizing different philosophical assumptions, reading practices in both traditions, and stressing the autobiographical dimension of Tang poetry. The autobiographical dimension is also at the core of Chou Shan 1995, which deals with Du Fu (b. 712–d. 770 CE). Through careful reading and contextualization of the poems, Eva Chou Shan contests canonical interpretations. There are a number of monographs of the “life and work type” on individual poets, some of them published in the Twayne World Authors series. Li Bai (b. 701–d. 762 CE), one of the most celebrated Chinese poets, is presented in Varsano 2003, a monograph that goes beyond the biographical format and extensively studies reception of the poet after his death. Paul Kroll systematically explores otherwise little-studied religious dimension of Li Baiʼs poetry (Kroll 2009). Some scholars of Tang poetry have become preoccupied with introducing new methodologies to the field and opening new questions; for example, the circulation of manuscripts and the role of the anthology in preserving Tang poetry (see Nugent 2007, cited under Reception, Circulation, and Canon Formation).

                      • Chou Shan, Eva. Reconsidering Tu Fu: Literary Greatness and Cultural Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511551390Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Presentation of the poet is based on close reading of his poetry in its historical context. One of the big themes in the book is the autobiographical convention of the shi genre. The only late-20th-century monograph on the poet in English.

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                      • Kao Yu-kung and Mei Tsu-lin. “Syntax, Diction, and Imagery in T’ang Poetry.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 31 (1971): 49–136.

                        DOI: 10.2307/2718714Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        The article reflects the earlier, now largely neglected, formalist approach in Tang poetry studies and is preoccupied with formal structures and their relation to imagery. Deeper philosophical underpinnings notwithstanding, it is useful for learning to read the language of the complicated regulated form.

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                      • Kroll, Paul W. Studies in Medieval Taoism and the Poetry of Li Po. Variorum Collected Studies. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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                        A collection of articles originally published in different places from 1978 to 2004. Five are dedicated to Li Bai, with special interest in the religious background. One deals with Da peng fu, a long poem written in the fu 賦 (rhapsody, rhymed prose) genre, which is usually neglected in poetry studies after the Han and Six Dynasties.

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                      • Luo Zongqiang 罗宗强. Tang shi xiao shi (唐诗小史). Taiyuan, China: Shanxi renmin chubanshe, 1987.

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                        General history of Tang poetry, in chronological order and with biographical sketches of the best-known poets. Written by a noted Chinese Tang poetry scholar. Concise, informative, and easy to read.

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                      • Owen, Stephen. The Poetry of the Early T’ang. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977.

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                        Covers the early Tang period in traditional chronology. Good introduction to formal and linguistic aspects of Tang poems. Discusses matters of period style, including its relation to past literature. Also takes into consideration social practices related to writing poetry at the imperial court.

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                      • Owen, Stephen. The Great Age of Chinese Poetry: The High T’ang. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.

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                        Studies the period regarded in standard treatments of Tang poetry as the greatest. History is told through monographic chapters on individual poets. With many annotated translations and rich bibliography. Includes substantial essays on Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu and on minor poets.

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                      • Owen, Stephen. Traditional Chinese Poetry and Poetics: Omen of the World. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

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                        Formulates the idea of Chinese poetry as being radically different from poetry in the West because of its lack of mimetic qualities and the omnipresence of the autobiographical approach. Though some scholars expressed reservations, the book has exerted enormous influence on Tang poetry studies.

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                      • Varsano, Paula M. Tracking the Banished Immortal: The Poetry of Li Bo and Its Critical Reception. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2003.

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                        First book-length monograph in English on the poet. First part is devoted to the reception and canonization of the poet in China. Second part is concerned with Li Bai’s unique poetic style and provides detailed analysis of a number of poems, many of them yuefu 樂府 (Music Bureau verse).

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                      • Yang, Xiaoshan. Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere: Gardens and Objects in Tang-Song Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003.

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                        Studies a number of poems by later Tang and Northern Song poets, reflecting the private lives of the authors and the rise of the new sensibility of the literati culture. Considerable space is devoted to Bai Juyi (b. 772–d. 846 CE).

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                      The Song

                      In general histories of literature, Song-dynasty poetry is usually represented by ci 詞 (lyrics), a new genre that achieved maturity during this time. This overlooks the fact that during the Song, shi 詩 (verse) poetry flourished and developed in new directions. Since Song shi was denied the status of a period genre in new literary history, its study began relatively late in modern scholarship.

                      Song Ci

                      The Song-dynasty genre ci is believed to have originated in popular songs of the late Tang. The history of the process, including introduction of the most-important figures, is in Chang 1980. Liu 1974 introduces the formal and stylistic innovation by major poets in the ci genre from the Northern Song. Hightower and Yeh 1998 presents several important Song ci writers from the point of view of genre development and personal styles. The articles present a carefully researched biography of a poet, with comments on his or her style contextualized in the history of the genre and illustrated by translations. Later Song ci genre transformation is covered in Lin 1978, a monograph on the Southern Song poet Jiang Kui (b. 1155–d. 1221), and in Fong 1987. Egan 1984 brings a new perspective in a study of Ouyang Xiu (b. 1007–d. 1072) and his innovation in Northern Song poetry. Ronald C. Egan explores all of Ouyang Xiu’s writings and considers ci only one dimension of his creativity. The same approach of exploring both ci and shi is adopted in the study of another great Song ci writer, Su Shi (b. 1037–d. 1101), in Egan 1994 (cited under Song Shi). Yu 1994, on the other hand, presents an exclusively genre-oriented view. The book gathers research on ci beyond the Song dynasty and presents the genre in several thematically diversified explorations until the end of the 19th century. The authors in Yu 1994 go beyond a textual study or a study of the life and works of one author and address a variety of issues, such as genre hierarchy, literary canon, and gender. In their articles they challenge the established views and open new possibilities of looking at the ci genre and the history of Chinese poetry in general.

                      • Chang, Kang-i Sun. The Evolution of Chinese Tz’u Poetry: From Late T’ang to Northern Sung. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

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                        Gives a standard account of how the genre evolved from light songs of the entertainment quarters in the late Tang to serious poetry practiced by the great Song literati.

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                      • Egan, Ronald C. The Literary Works of Ou-Yang Hsiu (1007–72). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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                        The poet is presented as a versatile author important for the literary innovation of the Northern Song in all literary genres. Includes also a discussion of his shi poems and poetry criticism.

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                      • Fong, Grace S. Wu Wenying and the Art of Southern Ci Poetry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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                        Stylistic study of a “decadent” late Song poet, author of love lyrics and lyrics on objects (yong wu 詠物). Brings into the discussion topics and genres previously not regarded as serious.

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                      • Hightower, James R., and Florence Chia-ying Yeh. Studies in Chinese Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1998.

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                        Collection of earlier articles by the two authors. In similar formats presents seven Song-dynasty ci writers and discusses style differences and the evolution of the genre. Can help a beginner get a better understanding of the complexity and historical development of the genre. Also includes articles on other periods and genres.

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                      • Lin, Shuen-fu. The Transformation of the Chinese Lyrical Tradition: Chiang K’uei and Southern Sung Tz’u Poetry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

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                        A study of the formal and stylistic aspects and innovations in ci poetry during the Southern Song. The formal analysis is framed with the historical and cultural contexts, including new fashions in poetry and painting.

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                      • Liu, James J. Y. Major Lyricists of the Northern Sung, A.D. 960–1126. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974.

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                        This book established the norm to translate ci as “lyric.” Basic characteristics of the genre, through a presentation of six poets and their individual styles. Some poets overlap with Hightower and Yeh 1998, and their comparison shows differences in individual interpretations.

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                      • Yu, Pauline, ed. Voices of the Song Lyric in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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                        Regarded as the best publication in a Western language on the history of ci. Separate essays by different authors cover the genre beyond the Song until the end of the Qing dynasty. It brings new perspectives and questions into the discourse about ci.

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                      Song Shi

                      The Song dynasty is also a period when shi poetry flourished and developed in new directions, but it was denied the status of a period genre, and as a result studies started relatively late. The Japanese scholar Yoshikawa Kōjirō made the first systematic study of Song shi. His concise book, available in English translation, is still a valuable reference (Yoshikawa 1967). Yoshikawa established a general view of Song poetry, on the basis of an understanding of the Song in terms of the social structure changing after the Tang dynasty and reviving an interest in Confucianism. Following the genre characteristics as described by Yoshikawa, Chaves 1976 studies Mei Yaochen (b. 1002–d. 1060) as a representative poet at the beginning of the distinct Northern Song style. The view of Song poetry established by Yoshikawa has been subsequently challenged. New data were accumulated and new questions were asked. Both historical (Egan 1994) and formal (Fuller 1990, Sargent 2007) approaches have been applied. Egan 1994 and Fuller 1990 study Su Shi (b. 1037–d. 1101), who is generally regarded as the greatest Song-dynasty poet. Matters of shi genre transformation and poetic style are studied in relation to the poet’s life and philosophical views, sometimes to such an extent that the results are also a substantial contribution to the political and intellectual history of the Song dynasty. New research also transgresses the boundaries of genres, because it acknowledges that the voice of an individual poet is not limited to one genre. Palumbo-Liu 1993 focuses on a less studied but very important poet, Huang Tingjian (b. 1045–d. 1105), and the practice of manipulating earlier literary traditions. This is a little-explored topic despite its importance for all later Chinese poetry. However, as Sargent 1995 points out, the book should be read with critical distance and caution. Sargent 2007 is preoccupied with traditional questions of genre and style but brings new depth to such an exploration. Stuart H. Sargent carefully examines a great amount of data and, unlike earlier scholars, is reluctant to formulate a generalization in terms of the terse, definitive characteristics of a personal style of a poet. Hawes 2005 abandons the perspective of one poet and writes about playfulness and wit in Northern Song social poetry, previously excluded from Chinese literary history. By venturing beyond what is usually regarded as good poetry, Colin S. C. Hawes shows another substantial dimension of Chinese literature important not only in Northern Song.

                      • Chaves, Jonathan. Mei Yao-ch’en and the Development of Early Sung Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.

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                        An early monograph on Song shi. The focus is on the development of a distinct Song poetic style in the way Yoshikawa outlined it, but there are also chapters devoted to historical and intellectual issues of the period.

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                      • Egan, Ronald C. Word, Image, and Deed in the Life of Su Shi. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph 39. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.

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                        All poetic genres are discussed and a new explanation for Su Shi’s transformation of ci is offered. The main focus is on the political dimension of his life and his thought. Provides an innovative view both of the poet and of the social group of literati represented by him.

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                      • Fuller, Michael A. The Road to East Slope: The Development of Su Shi’s Poetic Voice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990.

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                        Presents Su Shi’s poetry in the context of his life experience, in order to seek his individual “voice.” At the core of the book are translations and detailed stylistic analyses of many poems.

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                      • Hawes, Colin S. C. The Social Circulation of Poetry in the Mid-Northern Song: Emotional Energy and Literati Self-Cultivation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005.

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                        Addresses the fact that the vast majority of Song shi are social poems. Studies the settings and the functions of social poetry (a game, a therapy, a means to build relationships or to seek peace of mind in nature or in literature) and points to its playful dimension.

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                      • Palumbo-Liu, David. The Poetics of Appropriation: The Literary Theory and Practice of Huang Tingjian. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993.

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                        Presents an important figure in Song-dynasty poetry, the initiator of the so-called Jiangxi school, which had a decisive impact on the later development of shi poetry. The book opens interesting topics but should be read with the critical review in Sargent 1995.

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                      • Sargent, Stuart H. “Review of The Poetics of Appropriation: The Literary Theory and Practice of Huang Tingjian by David Palumbo-Liu.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 55.2 (1995): 568–588.

                        DOI: 10.2307/2719354Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        A long review article discussing Palumbo-Liu 1993 and the importance of Huang Tingjian study. Carefully points out numerous problems in the book.

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                      • Sargent, Stuart H. The Poetry of He Zhu (1052–1125): Genres, Contexts, and Creativity. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

                        DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004157118.i-502Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Presentation of the poetic art of an erudite and multifaceted Northern Song poet. Much attention is given to formal aspects of his poetry, including meter. Poetry is contextualized in the biography of the poet and in the wider context of contemporaneous literature.

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                      • Yoshikawa Kōjirō. An Introduction to Song Poetry. Translated by Burton Watson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967.

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                        Overview of the genre during the Song dynasty and in contrast to the established view of Tang poetry. It remains the basis of Song shi studies, though scholars have added new aspects to the general picture and in various ways contest it. Translation of Yoshikawa Kōjirō 吉川幸次, Sō shi gaisetsu (宋詩概説) (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1969).

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                      Yuan

                      Yuan poetry is the least studied among all Chinese poetry genres. The genre usually associated with the Yuan dynasty is qu 曲 (songs or arias), of the same kind as those in theater at that time. It is written in language close to the vernacular, consists partly of songs from entertainment quarters, and shares melodies with the drama. A standard and still-valid introduction to all these aspects of the genre is Schlepp 1970, though some imperfections in the author’s descriptions of the tonal patterns were pointed out by contemporary reviewers. A representative selection of poetry from this period, with commentary, is in Volume 1 of Qian 1994. Crump 1993 is an anthology of translations, with an introduction to the genre, and is recommended as an introductory reading. Lynn 1980 is a case study of a Yuan poet of Uighur origin, Guan Yunshi (b. 1286–d. 1324), and provides a good picture of Yuan-dynasty poetry in its social and historical contexts. The Yuan was also a period of abundant shi 詩 (verse) poetry, which has been so far very little studied. Before the publication of West 2010, Yoshikawa 1989 was regarded as the best introduction. West 2010 challenges the general disregard for Yuan-dynasty shi poetry. The author stresses its independence of official ideology as a unique and favorable situation in all Chinese poetry. Xiao 2009 is one of the first thorough studies of the topic, combining historical and literary studies, and it also explores the relationship between poetry and painting.

                      • Crump, J. I. Song-Poems from Xanadu. Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies 64. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1993.

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                        Anthology of qu arias, with an introduction to the historical context. May serve as an introduction for undergraduates.

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                      • Lynn, Richard John. Kuan Yün-shih. Boston: Twayne, 1980.

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                        Translation, by the author, of all of Kuan’s extant poems, with an extensive biography placed in a wider context.

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                      • Qian Zhonglian 钱仲联. Yuan Ming Qing shi jianshang cidian (元明清诗鉴赏辞典). 2 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1994.

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                        Modern popular anthology of poetry accompanied by explanatory essays. Volume 1 covers the Liao, Jin, Yuan, and Ming periods. Includes short biographies of the poets, a bibliography, and indexes.

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                      • Schlepp, Wayne. San-ch’ü: Its Technique and Imagery. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970.

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                        Genre description based on formal features. Contains translated and annotated poems. Uses a reconstructed medieval pronunciation.

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                      • West, Stephen H. “The Four Masters of Yuan Poetry.” In The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature. Vol. 1, To 1375. Edited by Stephen Owen, 586–592. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                        Concise presentation of Yuan-dynasty poetry, embedded in a larger chapter on literature from the late Jin to the early Ming, in its changing social context. See also the author’s chapter “Poetry to 1375” in the same publication, pp. 599–613.

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                      • Xiao Lihua 蕭麗華. Yuan shi zhi shehuixing yu yishuxing yanjiu (元詩之社會性與藝術性研究). Taibei: Huamulan wenhua, 2009.

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                        First published in 1998. Explores the literary values of Yuan-dynasty poetry in its social context and challenges the conventional disregard for shi poetry in this period.

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                      • Yoshikawa Kōjirō. Five Hundred Years of Chinese Poetry, 1150–1650: The Chin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties. Translated by John Timothy Wixted. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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                        Translation of a book originally written in Japanese. Makes a strong argument against the May Fourth concept of literary history one-sidedly emphasizing the popular genres for the development of Chinese literature after the Song dynasty. Good introduction to Yuan and Ming shi poetry. Contains an informative afterword on Yoshikawaʼs scholarship, by William Atwell.

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                      Ming

                      Poetry of the Ming dynasty has been largely neglected by Chinese scholars since the late 19th century. The main reason was the new, rising interest in genres that until then were unofficial—drama and fiction. Yoshikawa 1989 was the first introduction and is still largely used. Zhou 2006, in Chinese, is a comprehensive treatment both of Ming and Qing poetry. Research on Ming poetry is often closely related to Ming literary theory, since both were practiced by the same personalities. Chou 1988 provides an introduction to the theory and practice of the Gong’an school of poetry and poetic criticism, with special focus on Yuan Hongdao (b. 1568–d. 1610), a poet and critic who is highly valued in the modern period as nonconformist. A new way to Ming poetry, focusing on its more orthodox side, is opened in Bryant 2008, a carefully studied life-and-works monograph on He Jingming (b. 1483–d. 1521), a poet from the Archaist circle of Li Mengyang (b. 1473–d. 1529). The book is based on large number of sources, many of them translated into English, and opens a whole new world of the mid-Ming literati shi 詩 (verse) poetry. It also challenges the May Fourth interpretation of Chinese literary history. Tan 2010 concentrates on qu 曲 (arias) by three mid-Ming poets and studies them from the perspective of the low social status of this genre and unofficial poetry writing. Chang 1991, in a biographical study of the late Ming poet Chen Zilong (b. 1608–d. 1647), presents the poet from the double perspective of politics and personal emotions. This book reflects the early-21st-century broader interest in the mentality and culture of that period. Lian 2010 studies the position of poetry in Ming children’s education. Other studies of Ming-dynasty poetry use the perspective of women and gender, usually discussing together the late Ming and the Qing (see Fong 2008, cited under Qing). Poetry writing by women is also discussed in Ch’en and Mote 2002, which presents the famous exchange of verses between the poet and critic Yang Shen (b. 1488–d. 1559) and his wife, Huang O.

                      • Bryant, Daniel. Great Recreation: Ho Ching-ming (1483–1521) and His World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

                        DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004168176.i-718Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Based on a large number of sources, many of them translated into English. Discusses the value of Archaism in mid-Ming literati poetry (shi) and challenges the May Fourth interpretation of Ming poetry.

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                      • Chang, Kang-i Sun. The Late-Ming Poet Ch’en Tzu-lung: Crises of Love and Loyalism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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                        Deals with the poetry of a Ming loyalist and provides insight into the confluence of the political and the literary in the period. Contributes to an understanding of genre developments (both ci 詞 [lyrics] and shi) and to the history of mentalities.

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                      • Ch’en Hsiao-lan and Frederic W. Mote. “Yang Shen and Huang O: Husband and Wife as Lovers, Poets, and Historical Figures.” In Excursions in Chinese Culture: Festschrift in Honor of William R. Schultz. Edited by Marie Chan, Chia-lin Pao Tao, and Jing-shen Tao, 1–32. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002.

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                        Presents a biography and poetry of an important Ming author, Yang Shen and his wife. Methodologically instructive in discussions of the authenticity of the sources and also of the position of women in Ming society and literature. Translations of their shi, ci, and qu included.

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                      • Chou, Chih-p’ing. Yüan Hung-tao and the Kung-an School. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511570575Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Basic monograph in English on the Yuan brothers and the Gong’an school of the late Ming period. Studies poetry along with criticism and prose by the Yuan brothers and challenges the manipulation of the Gong’an legacy by some May Fourth scholars. Reviewers sometimes point out minor inaccuracies in translations.

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                      • Lian Wenping 連文萍. “Mingdai shige qimeng jiaoxi yanjiu: You Wang Shizhen de xueshi jingyan tan qi” (明代詩歌啟蒙教習研究: 由王世貞的學詩經驗談起). Hanxue yanjiu 28.1 (2010): 157–189.

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                        Discusses poetry as a subject of children’s education during the Ming dynasty and its impact on poetry writing during that period. Uses Wang Shizhen (b. 1526–d. 1590) as an example.

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                      • Tan, Tian Yuan. Songs of Contentment and Transgression: Discharged Officials and Literati Communities in Sixteenth-Century North China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.

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                        A study of Wang Jiusi 王九思 (b. 1468–d. 1551), Kang Hai 康海 (b. 1475–d. 1541), and Li Kaixian 離開先 (b. 1502–d. 1568). Main focus is on qu (arias) as a marginal genre practiced by literati dismissed from office. Revealing about the interplay between social position and poetic genres.

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                      • Yoshikawa Kōjirō. Five Hundred Years of Chinese Poetry, 1150–1650: The Chin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties. Translated by John Timothy Wixted. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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                        Best concise introduction in English to the poetry of the period. In 1987 it was translated into Chinese. Suitable for beginners. In the afterword William Atwell presents Yoshikawa’s understanding of Chinese history and literature.

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                      • Zhou Weimin 周伟民. Ming Qing shige shi lun (明清诗歌史论). Changchun, China: Jilin jiaoyu chubanshe, 2006.

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                        Provides a concise historical overview both of shi and ci in the Ming and Qing periods. Arranged chronologically with separate chapters on ci and shi. Changing poetic styles are discussed together with criticism of the period. First published in 1995.

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                      Qing

                      Early Qing poetry cannot be studied separately from the late Ming. A number of poets overlap, as do the interest in certain topics, the social position of a poet, and styles. Rather than keeping strictly to the chronology, Chinese anthologies and scholarship often divide along the political lines between the loyalists (categorized as Ming poets, even when their poetry was written after the Qing conquest; see Chang 1991, cited under Ming) and those who entered into service with the new dynasty (belonging to the Qing). Qian 2004 makes available all important primary sources for research on Qing poetry. Zhou 2006 (cited under Ming) gives a comprehensive history of Qing poetry as a continuation of Ming developments. Like their predecessors during the Ming dynasty, individual Qing poets practiced poetry in different genres side-by-side with poetry criticism, essay writing, and, in individual cases, drama and fiction. The shi 詩 (verse) and ci 詞 (lyrics) of Qing poets are well represented in English translations in Lo and Schultz 1986 (cited under Anthologies of Poetry in English Translation) and McCraw 1990. Bryant 1992, through a close reading of a sample of shi poems, exemplifies the poetic art of Wang Shizhen (b. 1634–d. 1711), poet laureate of the Kangxi emperor. Chu 1987 deals with the early Qing revival of interest in ci lyric composition. Much research on Qing poetry shows an interest in history as much as in literature. Idema, et al. 2006 deals with the relationship between poetry and history in early Qing literature. A monograph on the life and works of Yuan Mei (b. 1716–d. 1797), Schmidt 2003 presents poetry that challenged the officially sanctioned values. The author explores the versatility of styles of this 18th-century poet but also gives comprehensive information on society and literati life, because the poetry of that time closely reflected public life and private experiences. Schmidt 1994 studies the life and poetry of Huang Zunxian (b. 1848–d. 1905), a political reformer, diplomat, and poet who combined in his writings traditional forms with the experience of the modern world. A remarkable feature of Chinese poetry from the late Ming to the Qing, unrecognized until the late 20th century, is the phenomenon of women poets. On these, Fong 2008 is the most comprehensive treatment (for other titles, see Gender and Women’s History).

                      • Bryant, Daniel. “Syntax, Sound, and Sentiment in Old Nanking: Wang Shih-chenʾs ‘Miscellaneous Poems on the Ch’in-huai.’” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 14 (1992): 25–50.

                        DOI: 10.2307/495402Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Explores a cycle of twenty quatrains regarded as representative of the officially approved poetic style of the Qing dynasty. Close reading reveals the discrepancies between Wangʼs poetic theory and his practice. With translations and rich bibliography.

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                      • Chu, Madeline. “Interplay between Tradition and Innovation: The Seventeenth Century Tz’u 詞 Revival.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 9.1–2 (1987): 71–88.

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                        Examines formal structures and style, the projection of personal experiences into poetry, and the coexistence of private feelings with political didacticism. Also provides a brief history of the genre and introduces its decline during the Ming dynasty.

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                      • Fong, Grace S. Herself an Author: Gender, Agency, and Writing in Late Imperial China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008.

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                        Treats various genres, mostly poetry, and examines women’s participation in literary culture from the 17th to the 18th centuries. Rather than writing literary history, Fong uses textual analysis as a basis for rethinking the cultural practices of women writing in the period. Includes translations and an excellent bibliography.

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                      • Idema, Wilt L., Wai-yee Li, and Ellen Widmer, eds. Trauma and Transcendence in Early Qing Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.

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                        Collection of essays dealing with authors traumatized by the collapse of the Ming dynasty, which they witnessed and to which they reacted in writing. Divided into three parts according to genres (poetry, prose, and drama), and each part is preceded by a generalizing introduction. Qian Qianyi (b. 1582–d. 1664), Wu Weiye (b. 1609–d. 1671), and the monk Hanke (b. 1612–d. 1660) are studied in detail.

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                      • McCraw, David R. Chinese Lyricists of the Seventeenth Century. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1990.

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                        Anthology of translations of early-Qing-dynasty ci. Valued for elegant translations and well-written introductory information on the poets.

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                      • Qian Zhonglian 錢仲聯. Qing shi ji shi (清詩紀事). Nanjing, China: Jiangsu guji chubanshe, 2004.

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                        A comprehensive collection of primary sources related to Qing shi (material on over seven thousand poets). Brief biographies of the poets and critical assessments are included. Covers also late Ming loyalists and poets using classical forms during the early republic. First published in 1987.

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                      • Schmidt, Jerry D. Within the Human Realm: The Poetry of Huang Zunxian, 1848–1905. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511663628Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Detailed biography based on original sources, followed by a study of Huang Zunxian’s poetry in terms of topics, style, and critical views on literature. With numerous translations.

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                      • Schmidt, Jerry D. Harmony Garden: The Life, Literary Criticism, and Poetry of Yuan Mei (1716–1798). London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

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                        Provides exhaustive information on a poet who is regarded as one of the most important figures in 18th century, his work, and his time. With numerous translations and rich bibliography.

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                      20th Century

                      After the May Fourth movement, poetry in traditional forms was overshadowed by “new poetry” written in free verse and colloquial language. As a result, traditional-style poetry of the 20th century has been rarely studied, though it has been practiced all along. It is a topic worth exploring against the prevailing view that modernity imported from the West was incompatible with wenyan (literary language) and traditional genres. Poetry writing in traditional forms in the early 20th century confirms the opposite and shows the vitality of the tradition and the possibility of modernization without totally discarding the tradition. This topic was touched upon in the study of the late Qing poet Huang Zunxian (Schmidt 1994, cited under Qing). Kowallis 2006 is a pathbreaking study of seven poets representing three schools of poetry in classical forms (five- and seven-syllable shi 詩 [verse]) active in the late Qing and early republican eras. An alternative reading of modernity is suggested in Fong 2004, which explores ci 詞 (lyrics) by the feminist activist and poet Lü Bicheng (b. 1883–d. 1943), written during the republic. Fong documents how the traditional medium was successfully employed for expression of progressive rhetoric, cultural identity, and assimilation of new experiences. The same poet is also studied in Wu 2004, which provides a more radical feminist interpretation of the question of modernity in traditional genres. Kowallis 1996 is an annotated translation of poetry in classical forms written by Lu Xun (b. 1881–d. 1936), better known as a leading figure of the May Fourth movement and as an author of short stories and essays in the vernacular language. Cho 2003 presents four major ci authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries––Wang Pengyun, Kuang Zhouyi, Zheng Wenzhuo, and Zhu Zumou––and includes a general introduction to the period. Lam 2007 uses field research to introduce the revival of interest in traditional poetry in mainland China, documenting some of the practices from premodern sources.

                      • Cho Ching-fen (Zhuo Qingfen) 卓清芬. Qing mo si da jia cixue ji cizuo yanjiu (清末四大家詞學及詞作研究). Taibei: Guoli Taiwan daxue, 2003.

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                        English translation: Study of the poetics and poetry of four poets in late Qing. Studies four major poets of the late Qing and early republic era and provides general information on ci of the period. Includes a summary of earlier scholarship and a detailed bibliography (titles in Chinese only). Good also as introduction to ci poetry during modern times.

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                      • Fong, Grace S. “Alternative Modernities, or a Classical Woman of Modern China: The Challenging Trajectory of Lü Bicheng’s (1883–1943) Life and Song Lyrics.” Nan Nü: Men, Women, and Gender in China 6.1 (2004): 12–59.

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                        Shows the potential of traditional forms in modern literature and successfully deconstructs the antitraditionalist stereotype of “new poetry.”

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                      • Kowallis, Jon Eugene von. The Lyrical Lu Xun: A Study of His Classical-Style Verse. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1996.

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                        Conceived as an anthology with detailed commentaries and translations. Includes an extensive historical and biographical bibliography. Helpful for beginners to understand the complicated language and role of traditional poetry in the social life of the period.

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                      • Kowallis, Jon Eugene von. The Subtle Revolution: Poets of the “Old Schools” during Late Qing and Early Republican China. China Research Monograph 60. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2006.

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                        The only book-length study in English on the place of “old style” shi poetry in the process of Chinese modernization. The author bases his argument on careful reading of poems by leading authors of the period and includes numerous translations.

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                      • Lam, Lap. “The Revival of Classical-Style Poetry Writing: A Field Study of Poetry Societies in Guangzhou.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 29 (2007): 105–128.

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                        A rare survey of the revival of traditional-style poetry societies after the Cultural Revolution. Based on interviews and official documents, the article shows how these societies function. These observations are embedded in the context both of political and literary history.

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                      • Wu, Shengqing. “‘Old Learning’ and the Refeminization of Modern Space in the Lyric Poetry of Lü Bicheng.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 16.2 (2004): 1–75.

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                        Extensive study of ci lyrics composed by the female poet Lü Bicheng from the late 1920s, during her sojourn in Europe (a topic similar to that in Fong 2004). Concludes with a radical feminist critique of the May Fourth definition of modernity.

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                      Reception, Circulation, and Canon Formation

                      Reception, circulation of the poems before printing was introduced, and creation of the canon after the introduction of printing are increasingly important in scholarship on traditional Chinese poetry both in China and in the West. In fact, any detailed study of premodern Chinese poetry that deals directly with the primary sources eventually has to take into account the issue of canon formation and different practices of circulation of the texts. Some of these issues were studied from different perspectives by researchers in traditional criticism. Chen 1990, about the Ming reception of Tang poetry, was among the first monographs on the topic. The book was informed by modern reception theory and is still useful as a starting point for further study about the Ming canonization of Tang poetry. Several articles by Pauline Yu deal with canon formation during the Ming and Qing dynasties (e.g., Yu 1998). The reception and canonization of Du Fu (b. 712–d. 770 CE) is a research field of its own (e.g., Cai 2001). Other scholars investigate the circulation of Tang poetry in their social contexts. Chan 2004 explores the early Tang personal poem collections presented by the author to gain recognition, and reconstructs a lost collection of Wang Bo (b. 649–d. 676 CE). Nugent 2007 deals with Tang poetic anthologies and reflects on the fluidity of the text and the problematic notion of the “best” variant in Tang China. Fluidity of text in the Tang period is further studied in Nugent 2010, which discusses the circulation of manuscripts, orality, authorship and authenticity, and related issues. Swartz 2008 examines the transmission of the poetry of Tao Yuanming (b. 365–d. 427 CE), the adaptation of his poetry to new aesthetic sensibilities, and his canonization throughout the Qing period. (See also Tian 2005, cited under Tao Yuanming 陶淵明.) Anthologies are dealt with also from the gender perspective (see Chang 1992 and Fong 2004, both cited under Anthologies of Women Poets). The gender perspective is present in Shields 2006, though its main argument deals with challenging the established views of genre development.

                      • Cai Zhennian 蔡振念. Du shi Tang Song jieshou shi (杜詩唐宋接受史). Taibei: Wunan tushu chuban gongsi, 2001.

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                        Monograph on the reception of Du Fu during the Tang and Song dynasties and his transformation into the revered “poet historian.”

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                      • Chan, Timothy Wai Keung. “Restoration of a Poetry Anthology by Wang Bo.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 124.3 (2004): 493–515.

                        DOI: 10.2307/4132277Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Discusses the circulation of manuscripts in early Tang China, from the perspective of self-presentation of the poet.

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                      • Chen Guoqiu 陳國球. Tang shi de chuancheng (唐詩的傳承). Taibei: Taiwan xuesheng shuju, 1990.

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                        Examines major Ming anthologies of poetry and shows the role of the Archaist movement during the Ming dynasty in the process of Tang poetry reception. Works with contemporaneous theories of literary reception.

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                      • Nugent, Christopher M. B. “Literary Collections in Tang Dynasty China.” T’oung Pao 93.1–3 (2007): 1–52.

                        DOI: 10.1163/008254307X211098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Through the phenomenon of literary anthology, explores the means by which literature was preserved and circulated in Tang China.

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                      • Nugent, Christopher M. B. Manifest in Words, Written on Paper: Producing and Circulating Poetry in Tang Dynasty China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.

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                        Introduces the approach of medieval manuscript studies, with the aim to reconstruct how the Tang poems were composed, transmitted, and transformed in the manuscript culture and in the time of oral transmission. Sheds new light on the issues of authorship and authenticity of the received texts.

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                      • Shields, Anna M. Crafting a Collection: The Cultural Contexts and Poetic Practice of the Huajian ji (Collection from among the Flowers). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006.

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                        The main focus of the book is a late Tang anthology of early ci lyrics created in the court environment.

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                      • Swartz, Wendy. Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427–1900). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2008.

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                        Swartz follows the reception of Tao Yuanming as a hermit and as a poet and the construction of his personality throughout the imperial period.

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                      • Yu, Pauline. “Charting the Landscape of Chinese Poetry.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 20 (1998): 71–87.

                        DOI: 10.2307/495264Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Summarizes the process of the canonization of Tang poetry through the Ming and Qing dynasties, in the broad perspective of the Chinese practice of anthologizing literature. Discusses also the case of the popular anthology Tang shi sanbai shou. Recommended for beginners as an introduction to the topic.

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                      Gender and Women’s History

                      The gender perspective of traditional Chinese poetry is often used in relation to genres dealing with the topics of women and love (late Six Dynasties court poetry, early ci 詞 [lyrics] songs related to female entertainers), as some articles in Yu 1994, Birrell 2004, and Samei 2004 demonstrate. Widmer and Chang 1997 deals with women writers (mostly poets using the serious shi 詩 [verse] genre) in late imperial China. This book is regarded as a milestone in traditional poetry studies because it explores the phenomenon of women poets in Chinese literary history. (On women poets in late imperial China, see also Fong 2008, cited under Qing.) For a discussion of gender perspectives in later periods, see several articles by Grace S. Fong, who introduced the concept of mask and persona into the study of the ci genre (Fong 1990). The gender perspective also entered the field of Shi jing (Book of odes) studies (Chin 2006). Rouzer 2001 addresses the issue of gender across a broad range of sources (from Shi jing to the Song author of ci Liu Yong). The work’s argument relates a gendered perspective in Chinese literature directly with politics and power; this opinion is sometimes challenged by other scholars as one sided (see the review in Fong 2003). It has become common in research of traditional poetry to combine the gender perspective with other approaches.

                      Anthologies of Women Poets

                      Much of Ming and Qing poetry written by women was preserved in anthologies, many of which are not easily accessible. The phenomenon of anthologies of women’s poetry was first addressed in Chang 1992. Fong 2004 further develops the topic, discussing issues of canon formation. Grace S. Fong also supervised the project of digitization of literature by women from late imperial and early republican China, including several large anthologies of women’s poetry (Fong 2005). Two large anthologies of writings (mostly poetry) by Chinese women have been translated into English (Chang and Saussy 1999, Idema and Grant 2004). These two together offer a comprehensive history of Chinese women’s poetry writing. Both cover a long period, from the Han dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty, providing slightly different perspectives and different nuances. Grant 2003 is an anthology of translated poetry composed by Buddhist nuns.

                      LAST MODIFIED: 04/22/2013

                      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199920082-0005

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