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Chinese Literature
Learn Chinese - Chinese Literature

Chinese literature extends back thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novel that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese. The introduction of widespread woodblock printing during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the invention of movable type printing by Bi Sheng (990-1051) during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) rapidly spread written knowledge throughout China like never before. In more modern times, the author Lu Xun (1881-1936) would be considered the founder of modern baihua literature in China.

Classical texts
China has a wealth of classical literature, dating from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BCE) and including the Classics, whose compilation is attributed to Confucius. Among the most important classics in Chinese literature is the I Ching (易经), a manual of divination based on eight trigrams attributed to the mythical emperor Fu Xi. The I Ching is still used by adherents of folk religion. The Classic of Poetry (诗经) is made up of 305 poems divided into 160 folk songs; 74 minor festal songs, traditionally sung at court festivities; 31 major festal songs, sung at more solemn court ceremonies; and 40 hymns and eulogies, sung at sacrifices to gods and ancestral spirits of the royal house. The Classic of History (书经) is a collection of documents and speeches alleged to have been written by rulers and officials of the early Zhou period and before. It contains the best examples of early Chinese prose. The "Record of Rites" (礼记), a restoration of the original Classic of Rites , lost in the3rd century BC, describes ancient rites and court ceremonies. The Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) is a historical record of the principality of Lu, Confucius' native state, from 722 to 479 B.C.. It is a log of concise entries probably compiled by Confucius himself. The Analects of Confucius (论语) is a book of pithy sayings attributed to Confucius and recorded by his disciples. There were also important Daoist classics that were written in later periods, such as the Huainanzi (淮南子)written by Liu An in the 2nd century BC, during the Han Dynasty. The Huainanzi was also one of the earliest Chinese texts to cover topics of Chinese geography and topography.

In the realm of martial classics, the Art of War(孙子兵法) by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC marks the first milestone in the tradition of Chinese military treatises written in following ages, such as the Wujing Zongyao (武经总要; 1044 AD) and the Huolongjing (火龙神器阵法; written before 1375 when Liu Ji died, preface in 1412 AD). Furthermore, the Art of War is perhaps the first to outline guidelines for effective international diplomacy. The other two works, the Wujing Zongyao and Huolongjing, are invaluable written works for the understanding of the gradual development of early Chinese gunpowder warfare.

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