Chinese Culture: Literature

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This book is the English version of Chinese Culture: Literature, which briefly introduces the development of Chinese culture in all ages for thousands of years. The book centers on the key writers and their works and pays attention to the introduction and analysis of specific writers and their works so that readers can get a relatively comprehensive and true feeling on Chinese literature. It helps readers to understand the living conditions and the inner spiritual world of Chinese people concerned and reflected in the literature works from the perspective of literature.

Table of Contents

Part One
Ancient Chinese Literature
Overview of Ancient Chinese Literature
Evolution of
Ancient Chinese Literature
Main Characteristics of
Ancient Chinese Literature
An Age of Essays
Pre-Qin Schools of Thought
Sima Qian and Records of
the Grand Historian
Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song Dynasties
The Rise of Poetry
The Book of Songs:
The First Collection of Poems
Qu Yuan: Romantic Lyric Poems
Tao Yuanming:
A Hermit's Pastoral Poems
Immortal Li Bai
Poet-Sage Du Fu
Bai Juyi and "New Yuefu"
CI Poetry
Su Shi: A Fresh Approach to Ci Poetry
Li Qingzhao: Graceful
and Restrained Ci Poetry
Xin Qiji: Bold and
Unconstrained Ci Poetry
Drama Comes of Age
Guan Hanqing: Great Yuan Playwright
Romance of the West Chamber
Tang Xianzu's Drama Legends
Novels Reach a Peak
Historical Novel: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Heroic Legend: Water Margin
Gods and Demons Novel: Journey to the West
Ghost Novel: Strange Stories from
a Chinese Studio
Masterpiece: Dream of the Red Chamber
Part Two
Chinese Modern and
Contemporary Literature
Overview of Chinese Modern and Contemporary Literature
Evolution of Chinese Modern and Contemporary Literature
Main Characteristics of Chinese Modern and Contemporary Literature
Modern Novels: Echoes of the Times
Lu Xun: Founder of New Literature
Ba Jin: The Torrents Trilogy
Lao She: Beijing Civil Society
Shen Congwen's World of West Hunan
Eileen Chang's Life Legends
Modern Poetry: Seeking a Voice of its Own
Guo Moruo: Destruction and Creation
Xu Zhimo: Crescent Moon Poetry
Ai Qing: Rooted in the Land
Mu Dan: Abundance and the Pain of Abundance
Modern Stage Plays: Development of an import
Cao Yu: Born for Drama
Tian Han: Drama Imitates Life
Contemporary Period: New Trends in Poetry
The Rise of Misty Poetry
Bei Dao: A Rational Poet
Gu Cheng: A Fairytale Poet
Hai Zi: The Catcher in the Rye
Contemporary Period: Diverse Novels
Jia Pingwa: Returning to Cultural Roots
Yu Hua: Vanguard Novels
Su Tong: New Historical Novels
Mo Yan and Hallucinatory Realism
Concluding Remarks: Trends of the New Century

Sample Pages Preview

Gods and Demons Novel: Journey to the West
“You carry the burden, I pull the horse. We welcome the sun as it rises, and bid goodbye as it sets. Stomp flat the bumpy road, to become the Great Way. After defeating dangers and obstacles, we set out again, and then again, from spring to summer and back again, through the many bouts of life’s joys and sorrows. If you ask which way to go, the way is under your feet…” This is the theme song of the popular Chinese TV series Journey to the West, which vividly portrays the arduous and heroic journey undertaken by Tang Monk and his disciples to fetch Buddhist scriptures from the Western Heaven.
This “gods and demons” novel, one of the greatest accomplishments of Chinese ancient literature, is said to have been written by Wu Cheng’en (c. 1500–1582) in the Ming Dynasty. Its characters fit mainly into one of three categories. First, there are immortals, Buddhist figures and Taoist figures, such as Gautama Buddha, Jade Emperor, Queen Mother of the West, Bodhisattva Guanyin, Most Exalted Lord Lao, God Erlang and Nezha; second are mortals such as Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, Squire Kou and Marquis Shangguan; third are monsters such as White Bone Spirit, Yellow Robe Monster, Great King of Miraculous Response, Bull Demon King, Red Boy and Scorpion Spirit. Each of the three categories sparkles with unforgettable characters.
Tang Monk is one of the most important. As a child, he becomes a pious Buddhist with the monastic title of Xuanzang. To benefit the country and its people, he leaves the Tang Dynasty’s territory in the east to fetch Buddhist scriptures from the Western Heaven, and faces a catalogue of difficulties and obstacles. He takes Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Friar Sand with him as his disciples. Because he strictly follows the Buddhist rule of “having mercy and compassion,” he inadvertently—and repeatedly—falls into monsters’ traps. After enduring eighty-one tribulations, and overcoming many hardships and dangers, he finally obtains the Buddhist scriptures and enters a state of perfect enlightenment, or Buddhahood.
Sun Wukong is one of the most successful depictions in the work; he is a stone monkey formed by the coupling of Heaven and Earth. Once he has mastered martial arts, he calls himself “Great Sage Equal to Heaven;” he solicits treasures from the Palace of the Dragon King, erases names in the Register of Life and Death, and creates havoc in Heaven. He thus symbolizes the rebellious spirit: he resists restraint, challenges authority, and pursues equality and freedom of expression in all respects, all of which constitute the greatest source of his charm. Wu Cheng’en also vividly describes Sun Wukong’s courage and resourcefulness in fighting to protect Tang Monk on the road to the Western Heaven, along with other attributes such as penetrating eyesight, the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, the ability to use the seventy-two methods of transformation and use complicated methods to subdue demons.
Zhu Bajie, with the monastic title of Wuneng, is Tang Monk’s second disciple. Originally the Marshal of the Heavenly Canopy, he is banished into the mortal world for getting drunk and flirting with Chang’e; but he ends up in the womb of a female boar due to an incarnation error. He is strong, loyal and capable, but work-shy, lustful, and fond of eating. He also likes to gain petty advantages over others. While Tang Monk and Sun Wukong “have no interest in mundane affairs,” Zhu Bajie is more worldly and comical, and has been much loved over the ages.
Journey to the West’s monsters, who rape women, plunder and are generally guilty of the worst crimes, contrast sharply with Tang Monk and his disciples. These monsters, who live in the hills, acting as lords and exploiting their power to bully people, represent the evil forces in the society of the period. They also have different shapes, backgrounds, abilities and means. White Bone Spirit is a typical example; to eat Tang Monk’s flesh and obtain immortality, he transforms into a beautiful woman, then an infirm old woman and finally a benign old man, all to no avail, for Sun Wukong sees through all the disguises immediately. “Sun Wukong hitting White Bone Spirit thrice” is one of the work’s classic stories.
While the overall world of Journey to the West is magical, it represents a profound truth. The author did not intend to expose the evils of society directly, but the effect was nevertheless to “convey secrets in games.” Via his sarcasm and mockery, those with no disregard for law and discipline, who exploited and bullied others while living in the lap of luxury, are ruthlessly satirized. This underlying message is what distinguishes Journey to the West from lesser novels.

Sample pages of Chinese Culture: Literature (ISBN:9787508527369)

Sample pages of Chinese Culture: Literature (ISBN:9787508527369)

Sample pages of Chinese Culture: Literature (ISBN:9787508527369)

Chinese Culture: Literature