Search this website:

This web page location:

home page  >   Literature and Writing  >   Chinese Literature

Literature and Writing

Chinese Literature

imperial system, literary forms, Chinese Literature, Chinese people, history of China

Deeper web pages:

>  The Classics

>  Literature of the Han Dynasty

>  Post-Confucian Literature

>  Literature of the Late Imperial Period

>  The Collapse of Traditions

Chinese Literature, writings of the Chinese people, with a continuous history of more than 3,000 years. It is the literature of a large multicultural area that became an empire in the 3rd century bc. This empire lasted until 1911, when the Republic of China was formed. Most of the literature prior to the 20th century was written or collected by officials who were part of the imperial system or by men educated as a part of this system. Chinese literature therefore has many connections with the history of China and with the major philosophical and religious beliefs of the society.

Poetry and essays were the major forms of Chinese literature prior to the 20th century. Yet over the centuries the Chinese also developed traditions of fiction and drama. While Chinese literature has adopted many literary forms from its wide contact with other cultures, all forms of Chinese literature, in turn, have had a major influence on the writings of Korea, Japan, and neighboring countries of Central and Southeast Asia.


Gunn, Edward M., B.A., M.A., M.S., Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University. Author of "Rewriting Chinese: Style and Innovation in Twentieth-Century Chinese Prose" and "Twentieth-Century Chinese Drama: An Anthology".

Article key phrases:

imperial system, literary forms, Chinese Literature, Chinese people, history of China, religious beliefs, Republic of China, Southeast Asia, empire, Japan, Poetry, drama, men, society, centuries, connections, turn, essays, cultures, writings, years, officials

Search this website: