The Core of Chinese Classical Fiction (Chinese-English)

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  • Author: Chen Jianing;
  • Language: Chinese & English
  • Format: 1 Book
  • Publication Date: 02/2001
  • ISBN: 7800055795/I·057
  • Publisher: New World Press

Chinese short stories and novels have a long history of development and they bear specific characteristics. Before the Chinese short story attained maturity in the eighth century, fictional elements had occurred in other types of literature, especially in the early biographical records. Chinese classical fiction developed in distinct stages: the embryonic form existed from the fourth to the end of the sixth centuries; short stories made their appearance, attained maturity and developed during the period starting from the early seventh to thirteenth centuries; novels by literati in collaboration with folk artists appeared and developed from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries; the appearance and development of novels by individual writers were witnessed from the beginning of the seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth centuries.

Historically, fiction was not considered and art form in many countries, and China was no exception, where the prejudice against it was even more severe than in many other places. Fiction writing had little to do with fame and fortune, and nobody seemed to worry if his writing were plagiarized. Sometimes, the author of fiction would deny his authorship or credit an ancient scholar with the writing. Since fiction was unimportant, after a book was produced, anybody could alter it. Some Chinese classics had been written and revised so many times before they reached their final forms that it is accurate to say that they were produced collectively. After a certain edition was acknowledged by readers and had become popular, sequels would be written by people who were interested in it. Those who did not think the riginal intention or ending satisfactory, might simply change it. Some novels are short stories or episodes of many individuals strung together or woven into one piece. As a result, numerous characters appear in one book. This became the tradition, even works written entirely by individual writers bear the same characteristic.

Fiction of most countries originated in folklore, and it was the same in China. The earliest Chinese fiction is mainly folklore. The stories came from the people; literati recorded and polished them and compiled collections of them. Later in the history of Chinese fiction, there was a period when storytelling flourished and short stories by folk artists were recorded. Storytelling led to the first full – length novels, which were mainly based on storytellers’ scripts. Until the nineteenth century, people still recorded, refined and published storytellers’ work. Folk artists played an important role in the history of Chinese fiction, their works influencing writings by scholars. Since fiction writing was so directly related with ordinary people, Chinese fiction provides intimate descriptions of their lives, thoughts and feelings. Chinese classical fiction has much to do with real people and true events, because ancient Chinese stressed the importance of truthfulness in fiction writing. A Chinese classic may include information about many areas of life, as collecting and recording and recording miscellaneous information was the tradition and exerted some influence on fiction writing.

Some writing of Chinese classical fiction has specific forms with comments and background information set apart from the main story. Descriptive and lyrical parts are in many cases put into verse. Since its appearance, Chinese fiction has been presented as prose narrative. Free from the restrictions of rhythm and rhyme, the language is flexible, concise, and expressive. The stories unfold in a montage of scenes with many dialogues. Because numerous figures exist in one book, special attention is paid to characterization, which is often achieved by comparison and contrast, making it easier for readers to see the distinctive personality and temperament of each character. Characterization in classical Chinese fiction is mainly accomplished by the description of the speech and behavior of the characters as well as their relationship with others. Writers of classics also like to use understatement and innuendo portraying everyday life. Details of trivial deeds are often meaningful and can be of considerable significance. A typical example of this kind of writing is A Dream of Red Mansions, in which the discrepancy between the behavior of the people well – educated in Confucian teachings and their inner feelings is presented so subtly that it is difficult for those who do not have a sound understanding of Chinese society to see.

Table of Contents
上卷  Volume Ⅰ 
中国小说的起源  The Origins of Chinese Fiction
第一部分  六朝时期的小说(222-589)  Unit One  Tales of the Six Dynasties (222-589)
引言  Introduction
搜神记  Records of Spirits
灵鬼记  Records of Souls and Ghosts
搜神后记  Supplement to the Records of Spirits
西京杂记  The Notes of the Capital of Chang’an
幽明录  Records of Light and Dark
冤魂志  The Ghosts of the Wronged
第二部分  唐代传奇(618-907)  Unit Two  Tang Dynasty Romances (618-907)
引言  Intoduction
柳毅传书  The Dragon King’s Daughter
南柯太守传  Governor of the Southern Tributary State
霍小玉传  Prince Huo’s Daughter
李娃传  Story of a Singsong Girl
第三部分  宋代话本(960-1279)  Unit Three  Storytellers, Scripts of the Song Dynasty (960-1279)
崔待诏生死冤家  The Jade Worker
十五贯戏言成巧祸  Fifteen Strings of Cash
小水湾天狐诒  The Foxes’ Revenge
杜十娘怒沉百宝箱  san’s Jewel Box
第四部分  明代章回小说(1368-1644) Unit Four  Novels of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
引言  Introduction
三国演义  The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
水浒传  Outlaws of the Marsh
西游记  Pilgrimage to the West
下卷  Volume Ⅱ
第五部分  清代长篇小说(1644-1911)  Unit Five  Novels of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
金瓶梅  Jin Ping Mei
聊斋志异  The Strange Tales of the Tale-telling Studio
儒林外史  The Scholars
红楼梦  A Dream of Red Mansions
老残游记  Travels of Lao Can
Timeline of Important Historical and Literary Events
The Core of Chinese Classical Fiction (Chinese-English)