literature is a precious cultural heritage of China's several thousand years of
civilization. The Book of Songs, a collection of 305 folk ballads of
the Western Zhou Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn period, compiled in the sixth
century B.C., is China's earliest anthology of poetry.
Qu Yuan of the
Warring States Period, China's first great poet, write Li Sao (The Lament),
and extended lyric poem. The Book of Songs and Li Sao are
regarded as classics in Chinese literary history. Later, different
literary styles developed in subsequent dynasties.
were pre-Qin prose, magnificent Han fu (rhymed prose), and the yuefu
folk songs of the end of the Han Dynasty. Records of the Historian,
written by Sima Qian of the Han Dynasty, is respected as a model of biographical
literature, and The Peacock Flies to the Southeast represents the
magnificent yuefu folk songs. These are all well known among the
Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-420) were a great period for the production of
poetry. The poems written by Cao Cao, a statesman and man of letters of
that time, and by his sons Cao Pi and Cai Zhi, are fervent and vigorous.
They are outstanding forerunners of the progressive literature of later
Tang Dynasty gave birth to a great number of men of letters. The
Complete Tang Poems is an anthology of more than 50,000 poems.
Representative poets include Li Bai, Du Fu, and Bai Juyi, who are the
pride of the Chinese people.
Song Dynasty is well known for its ci (lyric). Song lyricists may
be divided into
two groups. The first, best represented by Liu Yong and Li
Qingzhao, is known as the "gentle school"; the second, the "bold
and unconstrained school," is best represented by Su Shi and Xin Qiji.
most notable achievement of Yuan Dynasty literature was the zaju, poetic
drama set of music. Snow in Midsummer by celebrated playwright Guan
Hanqing and The Western Chamber written by another zaju master,
Wang Shipu, are masterpieces of the ancient drama.
Ming and Qing dynasties saw the development of the novel. The Three
Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Outlaws of the Mars by Shi Nai'an, Journey
to the West by Wu Cheng'en, and A Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xueqin
are the four masterpieces produced in this form during this period. They
have been celebrated for centuries for their rich historical and cultural
connotations and unique style.
The new cultural movement that emerged in the 1920s was an anti-imperialist
and anti-feudal movement. Progressive writers, represented by Lu Xun, gave
birth to modern Chinese literature. The most outstanding representative
works of this era are the novels The Diary of a Madman and The True
Story of Ah Q by Lu Xun, the poetry anthology The Goddesses by Guo
Moruo, the novel Midnight by Mao Dun, the trilogy novels Family,
Spring and Autumn by Ba Jin, the novel Camel Xiangzi by Lao
She, and the plays Thunderstorm and Sunrise by Cao Yu.
The founding of New China in 1949 serves as a signpost for the beginning of
contemporary Chinese literature. Works of this period reflect the hard
struggle and tremendous sacrifices during the long War of Liberation, and
eulogize the selflessness displayed in the building of socialist New
The representative works are the novels Red Crag by Luo
Guangbin and Yang Yiyan, Song of Youth by Yang Mo, The Hurricane
by Zhou Libo and Builders of a New Life by Liu Qing. During the
10-year "cultural revolution" (1966-1976), literature was deliberately
hamstrung, leaving a desolate literary wasteland.
But since the reform and
opening to the outside world started in 1978, literary creation has entered a new
period. Some works of the early period of the new era mainly described the
emotional wounds the people suffered during the "cultural
revolution." The main works include The Wound by Lu Xinhua,
The Blood-stained Magnolia by Cong Weizi, Mimosa by Zhang Xianliang,
A Small Town Called Hibiscus by Gu Hua and The Snowstorm Tonight by
Some works are called works "seeking the
roots," for example, Red Sorghum by Mo Yan, Black Steed by
Zhang Chengzhi and Troubled Life by ChiLi. In recent years, a
diversifying tendency has appeared in literary works. Those with
historical themes include The Young Son of Heaven by Lin Li, Zeng
Guofan by Tang Haoming, Emperor Yongzheng by Eryue He and Mending
the Crack in the Sky by Huo Da. Making a Decision by Zhang Ping
and Farewell to the Bitter Winter by Zou Yuezhao reflect current real