Chapter 2 Pre-Qin Literature (material)

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Chapter 2 Pre-Qin Literature (material)

    Chapter 2 Pre-Qin Literature

    I Poetry in the pre-Qin period

    ? China has a long history of poetry and a great ocean of poems by countless

    authors. (诗经), the earliest anthology of 305 poems, is the The Book of Songs

    first monument in the Chinese poetic tradition. The poems may be dated from

    thththe 11 to the 6 century B.C. and were popular in the present-day Shannxi(陕西),

    Shanxi(山西), Henan, Shandong, Hubei and other areas.

    ? At that time musicians of the Zhou Dynasty and its vassal states collected and

    edited folk music and finally compiled the collection which had been first known

    thas The Three Hundred Songs(诗三百). After the 5 century B.C., the original

    musical scores were gradually lost and only the verses remained. Later it became

    one of the five Confucian classics and a required reading for the literati for more

    ththan 2, 000 years; not until the turn of the 20 century did it cease to be read as scripture and begin to be appreciated as a collection of poetic composition.

    ? The anthology is divided into three sections, namely Songs(Feng, guofeng国风),

    Odes(Ya), and Hymns(Song), each being subdivided. The 160 poems in the first section are mainly folk-songs from the various vassal states, so they are the

    finest and perennially lovely. They are rich in content, dealing with labour, love

    affairs, marriage, despair and hardships of the underprivileged, and protests

    against tyranny and war. The second section contains 105 poems, one part of

    which is called Greater Odes(大雅daya, greater ya) and the other Lesser Odes(小雅xiaoya, lesser ya). The last section is divided into Zhou Hymns(周颂),

    Lu Hymns(鲁颂) and Shang Hymns(商颂), most of which are formal ritual hymns used in sacrifices to praise the ancestors envisioned in the rites. They reveal

    interesting pictures of feasting and religious ceremonies, some facts about the

    economy of ancient China, the myths connected with the rise to dominance of the

    Zhou people and political satires reflecting the decline of the slave system in the

    late period of the Western Zhou Dynasty and the contradictions within the ruling

    class. In brief, the realistic songs in the collection give a comprehensive, vivid

    and truthful pictures of social life and customs of that period.

? The style of the poems, chiefly written in four-character lines with some

    irregular stanzas here and there, in general, is straightforward and natural,

    typical of ancient literature in terms of the immediacy of imagery and pervasive

    musical quality. The modes of expression, however, are by no means simple: not

    only rich in end rhymes and internal rhymes but ample and imaginative use is made

    of metaphors and similes to convey ideas and feelings forcefully.

    ? We Gather Vetch(采薇) in the xiaoya We Gather Vetch dates from the reign of

    King Xuan and tells of the hardships of the garrison troops stationed at the

    distant frontiers to keep back the Huns. The last verse gives a moving and very

    human description of a soldier’s misery when, bound home at last, he suffers

    from cold and hunger on the road.


    When we left home


    The willows were softly swaying;


    Now as we turn back


    Snow flakes fly.


    Our road is a long one,


    And we thirst and hunger.


    Our hearts are filled with sorrow;


    But who knows our misery?

    ? Chop, Chip, We Cut Elms(魏风*伐檀) This poem points out that although the

    nobles neither plough nor hunt, their storehouses are full of grain while game

    hangs in their countyards; and the poet asks sarcastically how they are able to

    eat without working.

    ? Field Mouse(魏风*硕鼠) This poem compares the exploiter to a field mouse,

    aptly exposing the true nature of the exploiting class. The longing to go to “a

    happy land”, in other words a society from tyranny and exploitation, was of

    course an empty dream at that time; yet is shows the author’s rebellious spirit.

    ? Songs about love and marriage form the bulk of the guofeng, and most of these

    are folk-songs; but though their theme is the same they possess great variety,

    presenting all the sadness or joy of lovers’ partings and reunions. Many

    descriptions of encounters, pledges of faith and secret assignations show the

    relative freedom of love in those days for ordinary people and the primitive social

    conditions. The Roebuck(召南?野有死麕) tells how a hunter in the woods meets a

    girl whom he finds as lovely as jade, and how he wins her. The fresh openness of

    feeling here harmonizes with the sense of spring in the countryside. “The Quiet

    Girl”(邶风*静女), relates how two lovers arrange to meet at the city wall; but

    when the young man comes the girl hides herself, throwing him into an anxious

    quandary. The ingenuous couple in this poem are full of life. Other songs which

    describes young people singing and dancing or young lovers meeting during

    festivals are pulsing with joy and reveal a comparative freedom in love. But that

    certain restrictions existed can be seen from songs like “I Beg You, Zhongzi”(

*将仲子) in which a girl longs for her lover but dares not let him come to her

    because she dreads what her parents, her brothers and the neighbors will say. A

    (*匪风) and A Simple Fellow(), are ballads about Gust of Wind from the Valley

    wives forsaken by their husbands. The weak, good woman in the first song

    complains that her husband is interested in someone else and has tired of his old

    wife, and she reminds him of their former love. But the woman in the second

    poem is a stronger character, who expresses more regret than sorrow and is

    eager to break with her husband because she has no feeling left for him. Bitter

    experience has taught her that even in love there is no equality between sexes.

    Of the two poems, this is the more moving because it goes deeper into the

    woman’s feelings and state of mind.

    ? The Book of Songs occupies an important place in the history of Chinese

    literature. Many great poets throughout the history drew inspiration from the

    anthology. So it is no exaggeration to say that The Book of Songs has exerted a

    profound influence upon the entire course of the development of Chinese poetry.

    ? Second only to the poems in The Book of Songs whether in chronological order or in importance in the history of Chinese poetry are Songs of Chu(楚辞), also

    originating in music and dance. Basing on folk-songs in the kingdom of Chu in the

    Changjiang River area, the towering genius Qu Yuan(屈原,?340-278B.C.),

    China’s first known poet, developed these folk songs into a genre of poetry with a

    number of his immortal poems. The main ones are: (九歌), which is in Nine Songsfact made up of eleven instead of nine, for the word “nine” here is not in the

    sense of an exact number; Questions to Heaven(天问Ask Heaven), in which he poses 172 questions on natural phenomena, ancient myths and legends and

    historical figures, showing the author’s valuable spirit of truth seeking; Nine

    (九章), which are short lyrics about the poets’s own experiences and Elegies

    difficulties, anguish and anger; and The Lament(离骚 Sorrow after Departure).

? The Lament is Qu Yuan’s masterpiece and the most important lyric and romantic

    poem os songs of Chu. Slandered by his wicked political enemies and banished

    from the court, Qu put all his aspirations and emotions into this poem of 373

    lines. Here Qu Yuan, according to Wang Yi(王逸), employs metaphors and similes in accordance with appropriate classes of comparison. Thus birds of beauty and

    fragrant herbs are matched with loyalty and integrity; beasts that prowl and

    things in nature that offend with their foul smell are made to betoken the

    slanderous and the wicked. Princes are likened to fair ladies, and holy men, able

    ministers are compared to Fu Fei(宓妃) and other women of beauty. Various

fabulous dragons and phoenixes are employed as vehicles to suggest good persons;

    and fleeting clouds and ominous rainbows stand for the ignoble. Maybe some

    scholars have the idea that this view is a little farfetched. But one point is

    certain: From its beginning to its end, the poem describes the life-and-death

    struggle between “something beautiful” and “something ugly” and ruthlessly

    exposes the king’s folly and the treachery of evil ministers.

    ? ? Qu Yuan, filled with patriotic sentiments and with a lofty and unsullied

    personality, “used the Chu written language, followed the Chu pronunciation,

    described Chu places and named Chu things.”(书楚语,作楚声,纪楚地,名楚物。) One

    of the main themes of his works is his great anxiety about dangers and troubles

    Chu met with and his strong aspirations for building a powerful Chu state though

    they are indirectly expressed.

    ? The verses of

    Poetry of the South(楚辞) are freer than those of The Book of

    Songs. It is not fixed to four characters per line, and the character “xi”() is

    often put in the middle or the end of some lines such as Qu Yuan’s sentence like

    “The journey is long,/ I’ll search up and down.(路漫漫其修远兮,吾将上下而求索。)”.

    ? Qu Yuan created a new literary era. His new form and his use of positive

    romanticism have exerted a lasting influence on Chinese literature and been

    imitated or admired by many writers from the Han Dynasty onward.

    ? Song Yu(宋玉), among many writers after Qu Yuan, was another important author

    of the genre. His Nine Arguments(九辩) shows that he closely followed the

    tradition of Qu Yuan.

    ? The Book of Songs and Poetry of the South are regarded as the two peaks of

    China’s earliest literary history.

    ? The theme of Chinese literature follows the two main lines: realism and

    romanticism. The Book of Songs is the fountainhead of realism and Poetry of the

     of romanticism. Later Chinese literature was extended and developed South

    based on these two main lines.

    II Prose in the Pre-Qin Period

    ? Prose of this period can be dated back as early as the Shang and Zhou dynasties,

    but the prosperous era was the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States

    Period. Most of the prose can be classified as either philosophy or

    historyhistorical prose and philosophical prose..

    ? As far as the historical prose is concerned the representative ones are The Book

    (书经/尚书), (春秋), (国语Discourses Spring and Autumn AnnalsGuo Yuof History

    of the States), (左传Zuo Zhuan) and Zuo’s CommentaryIntrigues of the Warring

    (战国策). States

    ? , though stretching over a period of 17 centuries from 2255 The Book of History

    to 628 B.C., is not a continuous history of early China, but disconnected,

    individual official papers of diverse kinds: deliberations at court, memorials to

    the throne, records of political events and policies, royal edicts and orders,

    orations, etc. these fragments constitute the most ancient collection of Chinese

    prose writing. This book has exerted a great and uninterrupted influence upon

    the mind of the Chinese people and upon literary style, for, on the one hand, it is

    one of the major Confucian classics for thousands of years; on the other hand, its

    concise style and its brevity is quite appealing to the Chinese literati, some pieces

    being written so compactly that only 20 or 30 characters are used. The

    documents, no doubt, were primarily produced for practical and political purposes,

    yet they were written with a great number of rhetorical devices, which

    strengthened its literary charm, such as prairie fire, headdrope and net. Many

    expressions have become Chinese idioms or set phrases.

? Guo Yu, dealing with events from the reign of King Mu(穆王) of the early Western

    Zhou to the year of 453 B.C., divides its material up among eight states: Zhou, Lu,

    Qi, Jin, Zheng, Chu, Wu, and Yue. Not intendted as an exhaustive history the

    book contains selected events mainly described in the form of speech and

    dialogue. The book tries to emphasize eloquent rhetoric and imagination, and

    some passages are of considrable beauty and evocative power in fictionalized

    speeches or dialogues, which has produced some impact upon Chinese prose


    ? Spring and Autumn Annals is the earliest chronicle(编年史) in China with concise

    and meticulous language.

    ? Zuo’s Commentary, said to have been written by Zuo Qiu-ming(左丘明), a

    contemporary of Kong Zi or a little earlier, and also called The Spring and Autumn

    Annals of Mr Zuo(左氏春秋), is not only the first comprehensive historical

    account of the major political, social and military events of the Spring and

    Autumn Period, but also the first widely imitated prose model. It is outstanding,

as a literary work, for its succinct and implicit style, its strong ability to describe

    a complicated event in an orderly, economical, and lively manner, such as his vivid

    recounting of several great battles: Cao Gui on War(曹刿论战), The Battle between Jin and Chu at Cheng-pu(晋楚城濮之战), and Jin Defeats Qin’s Army at Xiao(晋败秦师于崤). Zuo is also good at portraying in detail characters through

    direct speech and action to make an unforgetable impression on readers. So the

    book has always been ranked as one of the most important works in Chinese



    Intrigues of the Warring States is a collection of historical narratives,

    fictionalized stories, and persuasive speeches that reflect the important events

    of politics, military and diplomacy between states in the Warring States Period.

    A book of 33 sections, the Intrigues, like Guo Yu, is organized in chronological

    order around 12 states: the Eastern Zhou, the Western Zhou, Qin, Qi, Chu, Zhao,

    Wei, Han, Yan, Song, Wei and Zhongshan, ranging from 453 to 209 B.C. through

    lively and complicated stories, the book fully depicts the political thought of

    “strategy comes first” and the intelligence and intrigues of the strategists(纵横

    ). Many of the stories are skillfully, ironically, and humorously written; some

    are in a relatively straightforward way; some use fables to reveal deep life

    philosophy. So even today they are still instructive and beneficial to people and

    many are often included by editors in anthologies of ancient prose for their

    literary quality, for example, Zou Ji Exhorts King of Qi to Accept Reprimand(

    忌讽齐王纳谏), Chu Long Persuads Empress Dowager Zhao(触龙说赵太后), The

    Beautiful Girl’s Nose is Cut Off(美人劓鼻), and Adding Feet to a Snake while Drawing It(画蛇添足).

? During the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Period, Chinese society

    was undergoing radical changes, and various schools of thought, such as the

    Confucian School, Moist School, Taoist School, and Legalist School, all strived to

    put their ideas into practice by writing books and expounding their theories.

    Some famous pieces of philosophical prose are:

    ? Among the prose written by philosophers, The Analects of Kong Zi(论语The

Analects of Confucius) certainly comes first. The book, which is the Bible of

    Confucianism, consists of Kong’s sayings and speeches which express his

    viewpoints of politics, his ideas of education, his understanding of ethics and his

    principle of morality in the simple, lively, and straightforward spoken language of

    that time. Many of his famous sayings have become proverbs that have been

    appreciated by one generation after another.

    ? ? The Book of Master Meng(孟子Mencius) is a collection of speeches and

    conversations of Meng Ke(孟轲), the second prominent Confucian master and

    expositor. Compared with The Analects, The Book of Master Meng is longer and

    more careful in collecting and editing. Many entries are grouped together in the

    same chapter on the basis of subject matter or of locale. The recording is also

    much more extensive and elaborate. Meng Zi was especially fond of using

    parables, allegories and legends to illustrate and advance his argument, such as A

    Man of Qi Has a Wife and a Concubine(齐人有一妻一妾) and Helping the Shoots Grow by Pulling Them Upward(拔苗助长). He also took delight in the use of

    picturesque language to make his expressions concret and memorable, for

    example, “leaping over the North Sea with Tai Mountain held in one’s arm pit.”(

    太山以超北海) and “climbing up a tree in search of fish.”(缘木求鱼) So Meng’s book had an immense influence on Chinese literature, especially on prose.

? Written by Zhuang Zhou(庄周) and his disciples, The Book of Master Zhuang (

    Zhuang Zi) is one of the masterpieces in Chinese prose history. In lively,

    sometimes paradoxical language, Zhuang gave free play to his imagination and

    thought, without following any particular school or committing himself to any line.

    With sharp insight and acute observation, he widely used anecdotes, allegories,

    analogy, fables, and satires to reveal profound truth in some respects of life,

    though some of his philosophical ideas were quite passive, for example, the fables

    In the North Ocean There Is a Fish(北冥有鱼), Autumn Floods(秋水) and the

    anecdote Cook Ding Carves Oxen(庖丁解牛). Even stones, rivers, seas, frogs, wind,

    and shadows could speak and argue wisely. So his style is vigorous and unique,

    even monumental according to some scholars. The Book occupies an honoralbe

place and wield a great influence on later prose creation.

? In addition to , the superlative compactness in The Book of Master Zhuang

    language and the mixture of prosaic and poetic form in style of The Book of

    (老子Lao Zi or Dao De Jing道德经), and the forceful logic, the plain Master Lao

    and smooth style, vivid metaphors, and full and sound reasoning of The Book of

    (墨子Mo Zi) also set good examples and offered fine techniques in Master Mo

    prose writing for later writers.

    ? By the time of Xun Kuang(荀况),prose writing was somewhat different. In The

    (荀子),for instance, most of the pieces are mature prose with Book of Master Xun

    a complete structure, which marks the replacement of the dialogue and

    conversation form as in some of the books mentioned above. His compositions,

    with clear central idea, great unity and coherence, and tight arguments, are

    penetrating and convincing. His On Heaven(天论) and Exhortation to Learning(

    ) are good examples.

? Han Fei(韩非) is another rare master of ancient Chinese prose style. His

    masterpieces, such as Difficulties in Persuasion(说难), Five Vermins(五蠹)and

    Solitary Vexation(孤愤), are plain, compact, forceful and incisive, though fables

    and anecdotes are used.

    ? All these works above became sources and models for later literature, both

    spoken and written.

    ? From this we can clearly see that the prose in the Pre-Qin period underwent

    some changes in style and genres. After the development of hundreds of years, a

    fairly uniform prose style was eventually established, which paved the way for

    the Han prose.


    标签: 美女 郑袖 智慧 女人 掩鼻 2009-09-12 10:35 战国时期,魏国为了讨好楚国,于是就送了一个美女给楚王。楚王的夫人郑袖知道楚王非常喜



    这位美人的程度超过了我。这也是忠臣侍奉君主,孝子孝顺父母的一种方法。 郑袖知道楚王已不认为自己嫉妒,就对新来的美人说:大王非常宠爱你,但是他不喜欢你的鼻子。以后见到大王的时候,要经常用手遮掩一下鼻子,大王就会永久的宠爱你了。






静女其姝 那个姑娘文静而漂亮

    俟我于城隅 暗中相约我在城角的地方相见

    爱而不见 我如期而至但她却没有出现

    搔首蜘蟵 急得我搔首弄发心彷徨

静女其娈 那个姑娘纯洁而美丽

    贻我彤管 送我一束红管草携带着淡淡的幽香 彤管有炜 红管草发出闪闪的光芒

    说怿女美 我非常高兴,因为它是美丽的姑娘(所赠)

自牧归荑 牧场摘来的嫩草纯洁芳香

    洵美且异 非常美丽并且非常奇妙

    匪女之为美 也并非小草特别的漂亮

    美人之贻 只因是美人所赠才非比寻常

    静女其姝1,俟我於城隅。爱而不见,搔首踟蹰。 静女其娈2,贻3我彤4管。彤管有炜5,说67女美。 自牧归荑8,洵9美且异。匪女以为美,美人之贻。


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