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Chinese Literature
Index of Terms


The Four Categories of Literature
More detailed literary genres can be found, for example, in the classification of the Wenxuan collection and that of the literature critique Wenxin diaolong.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T W X Y Z
Transcription: Pinyin, syllables separated for alphabetical purposes
Note that authors are not listed as a keyword. You can search for authors by pressing keys [Strg][F].

A[top]

B[top]
baihua 白話 "plain language", 1) a movement during late Qing/Republic (baihua yundong 白話運動) to use everyday language instead of classical language wen yan, 2) modern everyday language
beiming 碑銘 inscriptions into stone tablets or stelae
biannianti 編年體, chronological or annalistic type of historiography
bianwen 變文 "transformation texts" from Dunhuang, prosimetric narrative genre flourishing during the Tang period
bibliography, see mulu 目錄
biji 筆記 "brush record" essays, a literary prose style popular from Song time on

C[top]
chuanqi 傳奇 "transmission of strange things", stories of supernatural events and ghosts
ci 詞, a musical poetry style, contrafactury to an already existing melody, very popular during Song dynasty (see Song ci poems)
cihua 詞話, critique and theory of ci poems
congshu 叢書 "thicket books", collections of a books (collectanea) often from a particular thematical sphere, as a comprehensive or an anthological composition

D[top]
difangzhi 地方誌/志, so-called gazetteers, geographical histories of particular areas which were recompiled in irregular intervals. Precursor of newspapers.
Dunhuang manuscripts 敦煌

E[top]
edition, types of

F[top]
fanglüe 方略, military annals of the Qing period
fu 賦, rhapsody, a kind of prose-poetry flourishing during the Han period

G[top]
guwen 古文 "old literature", 1) Confucian classics claimed to be older than the early Han time jin wen texts, 2) a simple prose style revived during the Tang period in order to end the manieristic parallelism of the pian wen "paired-word" texts
guaiji 怪記, also called zhiguai 志怪 "reports of strange events", a kind of story or proto-novel very popular in each type of literature and through the ages

H[top]
huaben 話本 "narrative version", an early form of novels, based on a lengthy story that was told to the auditory in day-to-day sequences. Some of the huaben stories are direct precursors of the great novels.

I[top]

J[top]
jiaguwen 甲骨文, oracle bone inscriptions
jizhuanti 紀傳體, the biographic-thematic type of historiography
jiapu 家譜 family trees, family chronicles, genealogies
jiaokanji 校勘記, critical apparatus to ancient texts
jinwen 今文 "modern texts", Confucian Classics that had survived the alleged literary inquisition during the Qin dynasty and were in use during early Han period
jinwen 金文 "inscriptions in metal", inscriptions in Shang and Zhou period ritual bronze vessels and on various metal objects of the Warring States, Qin and Han periods
juan 卷 "scroll", a chapter-like unit in traditional books

K[top]

L[top]
liuyi 六藝 the "six arts"

M[top]
memorial to the throne
mulu 目錄 bibliography, catalogue or index

N[top]
nianpu 年譜 biographies written in an annalistic style

O[top]
oracle bone inscriptions, see jiaguwen 甲骨文

P[top]
pianwen 駢文 "couplet texts", rhythmic prose-poetry in a very subtle and even manieristic style popular during period of the Southern and Northern dynasties (see Yutai xinyong)
pinghua 平話, see huaben 話本
pudie 譜牒 family trees, family chronicles, genealogies

Q[top]
qijuzhu 起居注 "imperial diaries", daily inofficial court protocols
qu 曲 "airs" a musical poetry style, often also translated as "aria", as part of Yuan dramas, but also written separately as san qu 散曲 "concert arias" (see Yuan qu poetry)
quanji 全集 "collected works" of one person, in contrast to xuanji 選集 "selected works"

R[top]
rhapsody, see fu

S[top]
sanwen 散文 "loose literature", is prose literature
saoti 騷體 "elegiac style" of early prose-poetry
shi 詩, a very popular poetry style with equally long verses and with rhymes, in use from oldest times (Shijing 詩經) and the Han period (as gushi 古詩 "old-style poems": see Gushi shijiu shou 古詩十九首), and revived during the Tang period as lüshi 律詩 "regular poems" (see Tang shi poems), and the shorter style jieju 絕句 "abridged sentences"
shihua 詩話, critique and theory of shi poems
shijing 石經, "Stone Classics", text of Confucian Classics incised into stone slabs
shilu 實錄 "veritable records", official imperial chronicles

T[top]
taige ti 臺閣體, ministerial style of Ming period prose

W[top]
wenyan 文言, classical language basing on pre-Han and Han time Chinese, official language for documents until early Republican period, and to a certain extant also for modern written Chinese

X[top]
xiaoshuo 小說 "novel" or "romance". Chinese scholars discern the two types of short novels (duanpian xiaoshuo 短篇小説) and the classical long novel books (changpian xiaoshuo 長篇小説)

Y[top]
yuefu 樂府, allegedly poems from among the people, colleted by the Han period Bureau of Music, written in an elegic style and popular into the Tang period

Z[top]
zazi 雜字 "mixed words", terms for primers or textbooks of primary education
zhiguai 志怪 "reports of strange events", a kind of story or proto-novel very popular in each type of literature and through the ages



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