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Regular version of the site

Article

Revisiting Liu Xie’s concept of the genre and its place in the early medieval Chinese literary theory

Oriens. 2019. No. 1. P. 93-121.

 The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons (Wen Xin Diao Long) by Liu Xie (465/466– 520/522) overcomes other similar treaties of that time by its size (about 40 thousand characters), by the complexity of the structure, and as well by the depth of working out the issues of literary theory and practice. That’s why the Liu Xie’s literary concept is usually considered as a kind of quintessence of Chinese literary mind of the early Middle Ages. This article is an attempt to challenge this thesis and demonstrate that Liu Xie was far ahead of his time. Analyzing the Liu Xie’s genre concept, the author focuses on two major points. The first is the connection of the genre with categories of a higher or general order, with the notions of traditional Chinese literary types or modes of wen and bi and with the form of artistic speech. The second is the hierarchy of genres specified by the order of their description in the treatise. The author rebuts the idea that Liu Xie divided the literature into wen and bi on the basis of rhyme only. She argues that he considered the сontent of a literary work to be more important than its form for defining its genre.