In the numerous versions of classical Chinese literature history published from the May Fourth Movement onwards, the baguwen (or eight-legged essay) has long been marginalized and has even become an endangered genre in the history of literature. Most editors of literary history emphasized the ‘indictments’ of the baguwen, while some completely rejected the baguwen from the history of classical Chinese literature. Notwithstanding, over the last two decades, some scholars started to include the baguwen into the literary history; their discussions are, to a certain extent, constrained by the ideas introduced by the May Fourth intellectuals, and they could not fully reveal the importance of the baguwen in the history of classical Chinese literature. In this paper, I argue that perhaps the baguwen’s marginalization in today’s historical accounts of classical Chinese literature contradicts the actual development of literature during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The most significant difference between the baguwen and other literary genres that blossomed during the Ming and Qing dynasties is that the baguwen is not only a literary genre, but also carries the core spirit of the Ming and Qing dynasties’ literati culture. The influence of the baguwen radiates upon different literary genres, as well as the literary criticism of the time. The development of the baguwen was indeed interdependent with other literary genres such as classical prose, xiaopin prose (or minor appreciated prose), fiction and drama during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Unfortunately, previous studies usually consider the baguwen to be a development of Ming-Qing literature only while ignoring the developmental interactions and interdependencies between the baguwen and other literary genres. By utilizing the case study regarding the interaction between the baguwen and the dramas of the Ming-Qing dynasties, this paper reviews the literary aesthetics and criticisms during the Ming and Qing dynasties and reveals that the baguwen is an indispensable factor in the study of Ming-Qing literature. Copyright © 2018 Александър Алексиев, Антония Цанкова, Веселин Карастойчев, Евелина Хайн, Теодора Куцарова, Мария Маринова, Стефан Иванчев – съставители.
|Title of host publication
|Current issues in contemporary Chinese and oriental studies: Papers from the International Conference, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese studies program at Sofi a University “St. Kliment Ohridski”
|Place of Publication
|St. Kliment Ohridski University Press
|Published - 2018
CitationWu, T. W. G. (2018). The endangered genre: Re-considering the significance of the eight-legged essay in the history of Chinese literature. In Current issues in contemporary Chinese and oriental studies: Papers from the International Conference, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese studies program at Sofi a University “St. Kliment Ohridski” (Vol. 1, pp. 293-312). Sofia: St. Kliment Ohridski University Press.
- Eight-legged essay
- Literary genre
- History of classical Chinese literature
- Ming-Qing literature