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Chinese Literature
Gushixuan 古詩選 "Selected Ancient Poems"

The Gushixuan 古詩選 "Selected ancient poems" is an anthology of regular poems (lüshi 律詩) from the Han 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) to the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368). It was compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Wang Shizhen 王士禛 (1634-1711). Wang Shizhen has selected exemplary five-syllable and seven-syllable regular poems as those of the most widespread and common type of Chinese poetry. The 32 juan "scrolls" long anthology includes a lot of poems, the first 17 juan five-syllable poems (wuyanshi 五言詩) from the Han to the Tang 唐 (618-907), the last 15 juan seven-syllable poems (qiyanshi 七言詩) from anquity to the Yuan period. Almost all surviving Han period poems are included in the Gushixuan, yet those from later periods have been included only selectively. Among the seven-syllable poems those from the Tang period are dominating. The quality of the selected poems is generally rated as relatively high, and the Gushixuan is therefore an excellent and detailed overview of regular poems through the ages. There are, nevertheless, some shortcomings. There are only five poets from the Tang period as representatives of five-syllable poems (Chen Zi'ang 陳子昂, Zhang Jiuling 張九齡, Li Bai 李白, Wei Yingwu 韋應物 and Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元), and not a single poem of Du Fu 杜甫 whom Wang Shizhen himself interpretes as the most important and influential poet of all times. The name of Bai Juyi 白居易 is not even mentioned.
There is a commentary from the Qianlong reign 乾隆 (1736-1795), the Gushi jian 古詩箋. The Gushixuan was printed at that time by the Zhilan Studio 芷蘭堂. A modern edition has been published by the Shanghai guji press 上海古籍出版社 in 1984.

Source: Shen Yucheng 沈玉成 (1986). "Gushiyuan 古詩源", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 1, p. 193. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

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May 14, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail