Perhaps nowhere else has literature been as conscious a collective endeavor as in China, and China's survival over 3,000 years may owe more to its literary traditions than to its political history. This Very Short Introduction tells the story of Chinese literature from antiquity to the present, focusing on the key role literary culture played in supporting social and political concerns. Embracing traditional Chinese understandings of literature as encompassing history and philosophy as well as poetry and poetics, storytelling, drama, and the novel, Sabina Knight discusses the philosophical foundations of literary culture as well as literature's power to address historical trauma and cultivate moral and sensual passions. From ancient historical records through the modernization and globalization of Chinese literature, Knight draws on lively examples to underscore the close relationship between ethics and aesthetics, as well as the diversity of Chinese thought. Knight also illuminates the role of elite patronage; the ways literature has served the interests of specific groups; and questions of canonization, language, nationalism, and cross-cultural understanding.
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A book perhaps best suited in paper format
This is a condenced book on Chinese literature. The book itself is informative as a crash-course of many decades of literature from the Middle Kingdom, but the person who reads cannot pronounce Chinese. This leads to the problem that when you hear a new Chinese word or name, you have no idea what this word or name is (and it's very difficult to look it up), because Backman as the narrator botches all tones and prononciation. He does a fine job of reading, but I wish they would've had someone else pronounce the Chinese words.