There is a radically different aesthetic, world view, operating in ancient Chinese poetry from the one that controls poetry in American today. Much of contemporary American poetry, by Ancient Chinese standards, is pretentiously philosophical and mercilessly overwritten.
Ancient Chinese poetry seeks out the simplest things in life and celebrates them. It does not want to be lofty or profound. It wants to tell of life on this earth. It finds the great universal truths in the mundane. There is no poetry anywhere so imbued with the anguish of old age, the loneliness of sad partings, the ravages of war, the other myriad tribulations in our lives.
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At the same time that we are only passing through, the Chinese know that the world is permanent. The sorrow in Chinese poetry is the sharp and painful sense of time and life passing, the sense of our impermanence in the larger permanence. Because in Chinese philosophy and religion there is no idea of an afterlife, the eternal now becomes where heaven must be.
How can I reach my feelings? A thousand years may be beyond me, but I can turn this morning into forever. There is never any of the misanthropic hatred of ourselves so common in current western literature and philosophy or the hellfire and damnation pronouncements of the impending apocalypse issued daily by current religious or ecological groups. This apocalyptic and eschatological way of seeing the world is peculiarly Judeo-Christian. In our contemporary, non or anti-Judeo-Christian intellectual society we have discarded our religiously based ideas of the end of time and the end of being, but we have kept the attitude that went with those discarded ideas, and therefore in the most sophisticated of intellectual circles one gets a disdain for any religion, but the eschatological attitudes, now detatched from the discarded religion, remain.
An Anthology of Ancient Chinese Poetry and Prose : Sun Dayu :
As Robert Payne puts it: There is no Christian apocalypse, no crucifixion, no final blaze of glory. Hunan jiaoyu chubanshe, The first two parts of this guide to a history of Chinese prose treat traditional prose through Some new ideas such as the revolution in prose at the start of the Three Kingdoms, caused by socio-intellectual changes, and a more detailed examination of Qing-dynasty prose than most surveys.
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Edited by William H. Indiana University Press, The best short account available, surveying genres and historical development, with an extensive bibliography including major Western, Japanese, and Chinese sources.
The bibliography is updated in Volume 2 of The Indiana Companion An Anthology of Chinese Literature: New York and London: Renditions 33—34 Spring—Autumn Contains translations and short introductions to all eras and most genres of traditional Chinese prose, including David R. Compiled in the Qing dynasty, between and , this is the most comprehensive collection of Chinese texts and scholarship from Antiquity to the 18th century, containing 3, works.
An essential, searchable source for original texts. An innovative introduction to the scope, genres, periodization, and concepts of traditional prose; also surveys the history of prose through readings arranged under major works and authors in nine chronological chapters; excellent bibliographies of recent Chinese scholarship and appendices on the meaning of sanwen , the evolution of genres, and major anthologies.
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An Anthology of Ancient Chinese Poetry and Prose : Volume 1
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