An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Literary Category of Belles-Lettres and Collections

The category of belles-lettres (jibu 集部) is the last of the four traditional categories (sibu 四部) into which Chinese literature was divided. It includes collected writings of one person (bieji 別集), as well as collections of literary types or anthologies of writings from one period of time (zongji 總集). The last section in this category is literary critique. The belles-lettres category generally includes all writings composed on a personal base covering the private sphere, like letters, but also types of literature written for entertainment and leasure-time, like poems or theatre plays. The compilers of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 divided the category of belles-lettres into the sections Poetry of the South (Chuci 楚辭), collected writings of individual authors (bieji), anthologies and collections (zongji), literary critique (shiwenping 詩文評), and arias (ciqu 詞曲). In the jibu category, the Siku quanshu assembles 1,281 writings, which makes it the largest category among the four.

Belles-Lettres and Collections
楚辭 Chuci "Poetry of the South"
別集 Bieji Collections of Individual Writers
總集 Zongji Anthologies and Collections
[叢書] [Congshu] [Series]
詩文評 Shiwenping Literary Critique
詞曲 Ciqu Songs and Arias