poem used as the theme of flying dagger
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Tang short stories made an important stride in the development of Chinese ... to rework on previous stories orally told, making the new story a crafted work. ...

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poem used as the theme of flying dagger
  • 北方有佳人,
  • 绝世而独立。
  • 一顾倾人城,
  • 再顾倾人国。
  • 宁不知,
  • 倾城与倾国?
  • 佳人难再得!
  • IntheNorth,therewasasmashingbeauty,
  • Absolutelymatchlessandunsurpassableinhumanrealm.
  • Whencastingaglanceatyou,shecouldbringdownacity;
  • Whencastinganotherglanceatyou,shecouldruinastate.
  • Notwithstandingone’sknowledgeofherrarebeauty,
  • Sheisnowheretofindnow.
other forms of writing
Other Forms of Writing
  • Thecritical essay—the classical prose essay (gu wen 古文)—wasthemostimportant
    • EpitomizesTangscholar’sachievementinprosewriting
    • Resultedfroma“ReturntoAntiquity”(fugu)movementwhichcalledforan“Ancient/ClassicalStyleProse”movementtoreformthewritingofprose.
    • Intellectualsjoiningthismovementarereferredtoas“restorationists”byLewis,butwouldbetterbeviewedas“classicists.”
    • HanYuwastheleaderofthismovement
      • Advocatedthatliterature,inanyformsbutparticularlyinprose,should“conveytheDao/Way”andisforthesakeoftheDao/Way—theConfucianDao/Way.


  • Literarywritingsshouldputapremiumonmoralseriousnessaswellaspoliticalandsocialobligations
    • Literary men should presentthesituationofthepeopletotheemperor,inmemorials,politicalpoetry,andfolksongs
    • They should usetheirpersuasivepowerstoadviseandguidetheemperorinhisdecision-making

Han Yu’s notion of “scholar-officials” (shi,士)

    • Understandthatself-cultivationisoffundamentalimportancebecauseitpreparesonetohelpcreatesocialorderorrestoresocialandpoliticalordertoasocietylongacclimatedtoBuddhistandDaoistteachings.
    • Understandthatonlyasageking,whoadherestotheConfucianWay,canrulethestateeffectively
    • UnderstandthehistoricaltrendsthathaveledtothedemiseofConfucianteaching—theriseofBuddhismandDaoism
    • Understandthattheeconomicproblemswerecausedbynonproductive,parasite-likepopulation—theclergy
han yu s finding the origin of the way
  • “Inantiquitytherewerefourclassesofsubjects;nowtherearesix.Inantiquityonlyoneclasswereteachers;nowtherearethree.Foreachfarmertherearesixpeoplethatconsumehisproduce.Foreachcraftsmansixusehisproducts.Foreachmerchant,therearesixpeoplewhomustliveoffhisprofits.Undersuchconditions,isitanywonderthepeopleareimpoverishedanddriventobrigandage?”







Empress Wu’s reign,

Buddha flanked by two Bodhisattvas

Bodhisattva Manjusri riding the lion,

AD. 777, Daozong’s reign

tang fiction short stories
Tang Fiction: Short Stories
  • Tang short stories made an important stride in the development of Chinese fiction
    • Writers introduced the new form of story-telling called chuanqi , “tales of the marvelous,”or“transmissions of the remarkable,” written in literary style
    • Sources of stories were drawn from the prosperous, brilliant, and volatile metropolitan life in Chang’an
tang art of story telling
Tang Art of Story Telling
  • The crafted literary forms and conscious artistry in the creation of a literary text is expressed in at least four ways:
    • Writers used a range of literary techniques to rework on previous stories orally told, making the new story a crafted work.
    • Dreams played a central role in narratives, reflecting writers insight into reality and their yearning for the fantastic
Writers manipulated received narrative conventions to create new narratives, by skillfullyexpanding theelementsofromantic liaisons between men and spirits, particularly humanized fox-spirits
  • included other literary modes in their narratives: poems, letters, historiographical techniques, and quotations from received works.
types of stories
Types of Stories
  • Three major types of stories:
    • Love stories,foxromance(pseudo-historical)
    • Knight errantry/Chivalry (often historical)
    • Supernatural (purely fictional)
  • Most easily identified features
    • Use of incidental poems
    • Capital city was the setting
    • Didactic commentaries made in conclusion; Moral lessons taught in the form of satire
    • Narrator also a witness to the narrated event
    • More realistic human elements were used
characteristics of the stories
Characteristics of the Stories
  • Love stories,foxromance:
    • Tended to portray unrequited love resulted from the heartless lover or the mischievous courtesan
  • Knight errantry/Chivalry
    • protagonists are often historical personages
    • Stories are based on the mix of historical facts and unofficial histories
The Supernatural
    • tell the love between a man and a woman who is the spirit of the animal, usually fox
    • The animal, after attaining the Way and possessing supernatural power, is able to transform itself into human form, usually a woman
    • On rare occasions, stories may have a happy ending and the superhuman is allowed to run its happy course
realities reflected in tang stories
Realities Reflected in Tang Stories
  • Some aspects of the stories reflect realities of Tang culture
    • numerous activities of the Tang city dwellers, such as scholars, merchants, artisans, courtesans, vagabonds, beggars….
    • the structure and look of the Tang cities, towns, and villages
    • The ethics, values, customs,…reflected the mix of Confucian, Buddhist, Daoist tenets.
    • Romance and sex were normal human desires, eroticism and sensuality were not necessarily condemnable. They were allowed in private spaces.
Money represented power, status, and family order
  • Men were weak, passive, without character, while women were active, decisive, and brave
why short stories
Why Short Stories?
  • Reasons for writing short stories? Writers’ desire to
    • Continue the story-telling tradition
    • Refine previous zhiguai fiction
    • Reflect their sensitivities to social changes that supplied new subject matters
    • Show their skills and versatility in writing
    • Satirize powerful and exploitative aristocrats
    • Express sympathy and praise for righteous and brave women