William Dolby

Classical Chinese Translations and Research

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5. History of early Chinese Ch'ü-aria Poetry


Book Details

Finished in 1988 and self-published in 2003, this work represents the 5th of 33 of the Chinese Culture Series.

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Poetry and song held pride of place in Chinese culture and many of the greatest and most beloved figures of Chinese tradition were primarily poets. There have been three main genres of Chinese poetry. The third to emerge was that of the Ch'ü aria, first flourishing during the 13th and 14th centuries AD, when the Mongol conquerors ruled the land. The third genre was in some ways the most liveliest and vigorous, with the widest gamut of themes and moods, ranging from merry vulgarity to ethereal classical succinctness and elegance, and often at its most striking when playing off the two extremes. So full of elan and suppleness was this kind of poetry that it was adopted for the heart wordings of Chinese drama and, during the early period of its thriving, the worlds of drama and poetry were inextricably united, in the authors and milieus alike.