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Chinese Literature
Guwen guanzhi 古文觀止 "Perfected Admiration of Ancient Literature"

The Guwen guanzhi 古文觀止 "Perfected admiration of ancient literature" is a collection of literary high-standing works from the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) to the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It was compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Wu Chucai 吳楚材 and Wu Diaohou 吳調侯 and then revised by their teacher Wu Xingzuo 吳興祚. The Guwen guanzhi was printed in 1695. It contains 222 short prose writings in 12 juan "scrolls". The texts were intentionally selected to serve as model texts for education, and the Guwen guanzhi was thought as a kind of text book. Wu Chucai has also compiled a textbook to the philosopher Zhu Xi's 朱熹 (1130-1200) famous historical critique Tongjian gangmu 通鑑綱目, the Gangjian yizhi lu 綱鑒易知錄.
Almost all texts included in the Guwen guanzhi are prose text, and only a small portion belongs to the genre of rhymed prose (pianwen 駢文). Compared to other classical anthologies like the Wenxuan 文選, the Guwen guanzhi comprises texts from a much broader timeframe and does not concentrate on different literary genres, as the Wenxuan does. The contents of the texts are thus much more differentiated as in the Wenxuan. The texts are accordingly arranged chronologically, divided into seven ages roughly corresponding to dynasties. The selection of certain authors and their style of writing is a very important aspect of the Guwen guanzhi. Excellent writers thus can serve as models for future generations. All texts are shortly commented to give the reader an impression of its general character and meaning.
The texts of the anthology Guwen guanzhi are not only important as exemplary pieces of high-standing literature but were also important texts during their time. A large part of the writings has political implications. The Guwen guanzhi is thus a source collection for literature, philosophy and history.

Source: Xu Yimin 許逸民 (1986). "Guwen guanzhi 古文觀止", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學, vol. 1, pp. 194-195. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.

1.-3. 周文 Zhouwen Literature from the Zhou period
4. 秦文 Qinwen Literature from the Qin period
5.-6. 漢文 Hanwen Literature from the Han period
7. 六朝唐文 Liuchao-Tang wen Literature from the Six Dynasties and Tang periods
8. 唐文 Tangwen Literature from the Tang period
9. 唐宋文 Tang-Song wen Literature from the Tang and Song periods
10.-11. 宋文 Songwen Literature from the Song period
12. 明文 Mingwen Literature from the Ming period
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

May 14, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail