Classical Chinese Prose

In traditional concept about classical literature inChina, prose is the two authentic literature forms together with poetry.

In ancient time of Shang Dynasty (1600BC- 1100BC), there are historical prose to record events with concise words. In Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period (770BC- 221BC), matured historical prose and philosophers’ prose are flourishing to provide ideas and strategies for the governors. The Book of History (Chinese:《尚书》), a record of documents and stories of ancient times, is the first collection of narrative and argumentative prose in China. Other important proses are historical collections Zuo Zhuan (Chinese:《左传》), the first complete historical work, and philosophers’ prose collected in The Analects of Confucius (Chinese:《论语》), Mencius (Chinese:《孟子》) and Zhuang-zi (Chinese:《庄子》).

In two Han dynasties (202BC- 220BC), biography was developed unprecedentedly with the great Records of Historian (Chinese:《史记》) by Sima Qian (Chinese:《司马迁》), which is a grand work and regarded as the model of biography. During this period, various forms of prose also appeared, and Fu (Chinese:) is the most important one which is polish with much antithesis sentences; and the best known works are Zi Xu Fu (Chinese:《子虚赋》) and Shang Lin Fu (Chinese:《上林赋》) by Sima Xiangru (Chinese: 司马相如).

In Tang Dynasty (618- 907), there is a ancient literature movement advocated by Han Yu (Chinese:韩愈) and later supported by Liu Zongyuan (Chinese:柳宗元). The purpose of this movement is to promote veritable ancient style prose and opposite flashy rhythmical prose popular in Southern and Northern dynasties (420- 589). In Song Dynasty (970-1279), great writers Su Shi, Su Xun, Su Zhe, Ouyang Xiu, Wang Anshi and Zeng Kong (Chinese:苏轼,苏洵,苏辙,欧阳修,王安石,曾巩) are following this movement with masses of prose. Together with Tang writers Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan, they are called “eight great essayists of the Tang and Song dynasties” (Chinese:唐宋八大家). Their writings, both lucid and smooth in style, had a profound effect on later prose writing.

Essays is a major form of pure literature in Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) which possess unique charm that absorbed quintessence of all past dynasties. In Qing Dynasty, proses are developed in a higher level and even detailed classified into 13 types by a best known school Tong Cheng School (Chinese:桐城派), and each type are well developed.

Top Topics

Chinese Kung Fu

Far and wide known as Kungfu (功夫) all over the world, Chinese martial art is also called Wugong (武功) or Wushu (武术) at home by Chinese people. It ca...

Chinese Tea

Being a vivid Chinese cultural specialty as well as Kungfu and traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese tea has been being developed in China for a long ...

Chinese Cuisine

"Food is the first necessity of the people" is a famous Chinese old saying, which reflects that Chinese have had paid much attention to food si...