The Chinese Literary Canon: Exploring 3000 Years of History and Culture

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9781627740920: The Chinese Literary Canon: Exploring 3000 Years of History and Culture

In The Chinese Literary Canon, one of China’s most brilliant critics puts three millennia of Chinese writing in its proper historical context. He shows us what to read and how to read it. Yu Qiuyu traces a bright line of the very best literature that China has produced: from the first carvings on bone, through the first poems, the first philosophers, the greatest historian, to the ultimate stylists of the Tang Dynasty and beyond. And because brilliant literature is always a product of its time and place, Yu tells us about the men who did the writing and the worlds in which they lived. Most of all, Yu tells us about the ideas that motivated them, how they read the writers of the past, and how each writer of genius transformed and added his own stamp to the literary canon. The Yellow Emperor, the Book of Poetry, Confucius and Laozi, the great historian Sima Qian, Cao Cao, Kumārajīva, Li Bai, Du Fu, Cao Xueqin... Their thread weaves in and out of the history of the first Chinese, the Warring States, the unification under Qin, the destructive split into the Three Kingdoms, and the cosmopolitan Tang Dynasty. All of this history is interpreted and presented in the warm, distinctive voice of a truly great reader, Yu Qiuyu.

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From the Back Cover:

In The Chinese Literary Canon, one of China’s most brilliant critics puts three millennia of Chinese writing in its proper historical context. Yu Qiuyu traces a bright line through the very best literature that China has produced―from the oracle bones, through the first poems, the first philosophers, the great historians, to the ultimate stylists of the Tang Dynasty and into 20th century.

Yu introduces his readers to the individuals who transformed the canon―The Yellow Emperor, the Book of Poetry, Confucius and Laozi, the great historian Sima Qian, Cao Cao, Kumārajīva, Li Bai, Du Fu, and Cao Xueqin― and the worlds in which they lived, explaining their motivations and the evolution of Chinese literary style. The Chinese Literary Canon weaves a thread in and out of the history, presented in the warm, distinctive voice of Yu Qiuyu.
Born in 1946 in China’s Zhejiang province, YU QIUYU has become one of the most well-known Chinese writers of his time. After a successful academic career, Yu turned his focus toward Chinese culture and traveled across the Chinese mainland to visit the country’s national heritage sites and unlock the mysteries of China’s cultural and historical legacy. The ensuing publication, A Bittersweet Journey Through Culture, became a huge hit immediately following its first publication in 1992. His reflections on Chinese culture and his emotional writing style popularized a new literary style called the “meditative cultural essay” and a phenomenon termed “Yu Qiuyu culture.” Yu has since journeyed to the cradles of civilization around the world, and his travel notes and personal reflections of these civilizations have been collected in over a dozen publications.

In 2004, he was selected by Beijing University and China Talent Editorial as one of the top ten artistic talents of China and the representative of Chinese culture. In 2005, he was the only Chinese scholar invited to attend UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Forum. In recent years, he has been invited to lecture on Chinese culture and world civilization at Harvard, Yale, and the Library of Congress among other prestigious institutions.

About the Author:

Born in 1946 in China's Zhejiang province, after graduating from the literature department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy in 1968, Yu became the youngest art professor in mainland Chinese history at age 39 in 1985, causing a great stir at the time. Later, he became the head of Shanghai Theater Academy and published a series of academic works for which he received numerous national awards. Although successful in his academic career, Yu felt he need to focus on Chinese culture and began a journey across China, visiting most of the cultural heritage sites in the country. His ensuing publication, "A Bitter Journey Through Culture," became a huge hit immediately following its first publication in 1992. The book became a cultural icon for Chinese readers, and his reflections on Chinese culture and his emotional writing style popularized a new literary style called the "cultural meditation essay" and a new phenomenon termed “YU Qiuyu culture”. Yu then embarked on another journey to visit the cradles of three great civilizations of the world. In 1999, Yu, along with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, visited a dozen countries, including Greece, Egypt, Israel and India. His travel notes and personal reflections of these civilizations were collected into another book called " A Sigh Of a Thousand Years." In the six months after that, he traveled to another 26 countries on his own and completed his book "Travel No End." In 2004, he was selected by Beijing University and China Talent Editorial as one of the top ten artistic talents of China and the representative of Chinese culture. In 2005, he was the only Chinese scholar invited to attend UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Forum. His book tours in Taiwan in 2005 attracted thousands of readers and the Taiwan media described his arrival as ‘the unimaginable YU Qiuyu tornado.” In recent years, he has been invited to lecture on Chinese culture and world civilization at prestigious institutions, including Harvard University, Yale University, University of Madrid and Washington Congress Library.

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