Wang considers modern Chinese history as a complex of geopolitical, ethnic, gendered, and personal articulations of bygone and ongoing events. His discussion ranges from the politics of decapitation to the poetics of suicide, and from the typology of hunger and starvation to the technology of crime and punishment.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Invitation to a Beheading 2. Crime or Punishment? An Undesired Revolution 4. Three Hungry Women 5. Of Scars and National Memory 6. The Monster that is History 7.
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The End of the Line 8. Books Digital Products Journals. Disciplines History Asian History. About the Book In ancient China a monster called Taowu was known for both its vicious nature and its power to see the past and the future. The eight studies that comprise the book unfold a vast canvas of twentieth-century China, one that is filled with terror, violence, phantasmagoria, and death.
These songs and poems give a colorful picture of the life and manners of the Chinese feudal nobility, just as the folk poems depict the simple and yet bountiful life of the peasantry. The court poems were originally sung to music and accompanied by dance; Chinese poetry and music were closely linked from earliest times. The aristocratic, or court, style finds its best expression, however, in a group of poems known as the elegies of Chu Ch'u.
A noble by birth, Qu Yuan wrote Li Sao On Encountering Sorrow , a long, autobiographical poem full of historical allusions, allegories, and similes, lyrically expressed and concerned with the intimate revelation of a poetic soul tormented because it has failed in its search for a beautiful ideal. Other poems by Qu Yuan are equally rich in images and sentiment, and they form a body of romantic poetry entirely different from the simple, realistic poetry of the Shi Jing.
During the years of the Han dynasty BC-AD the romantic and realistic modes developed into schools of poetry with many followers. The verses of Qu, which were irregular in form, initiated a new literary genre, the fu, or prose poem. Chinese poetry was further enriched by the folk songs collected by the Music Bureau Yuefu, or Yeh-fu , an institution founded about the 2nd century BC. From the 6th to the 3rd century BC, the first great works of Chinese philosophy appeared.
Foremost are the Analects of Confucius, aphoristic sayings compiled by his disciples; the eloquent disputations of Mencius, a Confucian scholar; the Daode Jing Tao-te Ching, Classic of the Way and Its Virtue , attributed to Laozi, the founder of Daoism; and the high-spirited essays of Zhuangzi, the other great Daoist philosopher. The Shi Ji Shih Chi, Records of the Historian of Sima Qian Ssu-ma Ch'ien , a monumental work dealing with all Chinese history up to the Han dynasty, provided the pattern for a long series of dynastic histories compiled over a period of about years.
In political and moral philosophy, the Confucian scholars also set the precedent for the literary tradition in Chinese prose, and a standard literary language was adopted, which gradually became divorced from the spoken language. In this period of the Han rulers, the scholars were incorporated into the state bureaucracy. Appointments to all important official positions were based on mastery of the Confucian Classics.
This practice continued with few interruptions until the 20th century AD and hardened the literary tradition into a national cult. Nevertheless, these centuries in China were by no means as barren of literary production as was the corresponding period in the history of western Europe known as the Dark Ages.
The spread of Buddhism from India, the invention of printing, and the flowering of poetry and prose illuminated the entire period and made it one of the most brilliant in Chinese literary history.
A Poetry During periods of social and political upheaval, from the 3rd to the 7th century, poets found refuge and consolation in nature. Some were hermits who created a so-called field-and-garden school of poetry; others produced some of the best Chinese folk lyrics, such as the love poems attributed to Ziye Tzu-yeh , a woman poet who wrote the Ballad of Mulan, celebrating the adventures of a woman soldier disguised as a man; and The Peacock Flew to the Southeast, a long narrative of tragic family love, written in plain but vivid language.
The greatest poet of these troubled centuries was Tao Qian T'ao Ch'ien, also known as Tao Yuanming, or T'ao Yan-ming , who excelled in writing of the joys of nature and the solitary life. His Peach Blossom Fountain became the classic expression of the poet's search for a utopia. The greatest Chinese poetry was created during the Tang Tang dynasty , a period of general peace and prosperity ending in a decline. Despite the passage of more than ten centuries, as many as 49, Tang poems by poets have survived. They started their lives in the early splendor of the Tang era but lived through the subsequent troubled years of war and rebellion.
Wang Wei, a meditative philosopher and painter with Buddhist inclinations, depicted the serenity of nature's beauty; it has been said that poetry is in his pictures and pictures are in his poems. Li Bo, a leader of the romantic school, rebelled against poetic conventions, as he did against society in general.
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Passionate and unruly, he embraced the realm of the immortals, whence, he claimed, he had been exiled to this world. Li Bo was at his best when he sang of love and friendship; of the delights of wine; and of the strange, majestic, and awe-inspiring aspects of nature. His friend and rival Du Fu, on the other hand, was conscientious and painstaking in his efforts to achieve startling realism.
A humanitarian and historian, Du Fu recorded faithfully and intimately his worldly attachments, his family affections, and an infinite love for humanity, as well as the injustices of the age. This moralistic tendency, developed in succeeding centuries by other poets, was broadened to include didactic and philosophical disquisitions. In general, however, Chinese poetry was essentially lyrical. Rhyme had always been an essential part of Chinese poetry, but verse forms did not become well established until the Tang poets.
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The typical poem of the Tang period was in the so-called shi form, characterized by the five-word or seven-word line, with the rhyme usually falling on the even lines. The shi verse form evolved from the four-word verse of the Shi Jing. The Tang period also produced a new poetic form called the ci tz'u. Although each ci may have lines of varying length, the number of lines, as well as their length, is fixed according to a definite rhyming and tonal pattern.
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The writing of ci, which is somewhat analogous to putting new words to popular melodies, requires a great deal of skill. The melodies employed were usually of foreign origin. During the Song Sung dynasty the ci reached its greatest popularity. Initially the trend was toward longer ci, written to be sung to popular tunes and commonly dealing with themes of love, courtesans, or music. Su Dongpo Su Tung-po, , the best-known ci poet of China, liberated the ci from the rigid forms that music had imposed on it and introduced more virile subjects.
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In the 11th century more and more nonmusical ci were written, that is, ci written with no intention that they would be sung. In the late 11th to the 13th century, however, the tradition of writing musical ci was revived.
B Prose. Chinese prose also prospered in the Tang dynasty. Chief among the Tang prose masters was Han Yu, who advocated a return to simple and straightforward writing in the classical style, as a reaction to the artificial prose of his time. As a result of Han Yu's efforts, political and philosophical treatises, informal essays, and tales of the marvelous were all written in the neoclassical style.
The latter represent some of the early specimens of Chinese literary fiction. The first group of tales written in the vernacular tradition appeared in the Tang period. In an attempt to spread their religion, Buddhist preachers wrote stories for the common people in colloquial language and evolved a form of narrative known as bianwen , sometimes translated as "popularization," which marked the beginning of popular fiction in China. In the 11th century, although few examples of the ancient tradition of storytelling had been preserved, a revival of interest in the art took place, and it was practiced with much skill during the Song dynasty , a period of spectacular literary achievement.
During this medieval period, storytelling became a popular form of entertainment. The stories told by the professional entertainers, each of whom specialized in a certain type, not only were written down but also were printed in storybooks, called huaben, which later inspired the longer novels of China.