Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing between the Lines

By David L. Rolston | Go to book overview

5
Liberating Fiction from History

In traditional China fiction was always compared to history and usually found wanting, in terms of both fidelity to historical reality and loftiness of purpose. This chapter and the next one look at how fiction critics dealt with the problem of fiction's relation to reality. Their attempts to deal with history, the subject of this chapter, followed two basic strategies. The simplest was to claim that individual works of fiction are just like historical works in general or some historical work in particular. As this chapter will show, the historical works selected most often for comparison, the Chunqiu, Zuozhuan, and the Shiji, have particular qualities that set them off from the mass of historical writing in China. The elements of similarity between them and fiction are as often as not elements common to both as narrative forms. A less explicit and more dangerous approach was to argue that fiction is different from history and not to be slighted for that fact. In general, fiction critics made use of the prestige of history until they felt fiction had become mature enough to discard that crutch and walk on its own.


Defining and Classifying Fiction

Scholars have written much on the close relationship between Chinese historiographical writing and fiction.1 A similar relationship existed in the West, with Herodotus (fl. 5th c. B.C.) simultaneously honored as the father of both lies and history. Greek historical writing was important in the development of Western fiction, especially in the imaginative representation and narration of events. Early modern translations of Greek and Latin prose romances into European languages, as well as prose narratives influ

____________________
1
History has been held to have occupied the same place in the development of Chinese narrative as myth and the epic held in the West (e.g., Zhang Renrang and Niu Xueshu, p. 115). The supposedly greater influence of history on fiction in China has also been used to explain perceived differences between Chinese and Western fiction ( Fang Zhengyao, "Zhongguo," p. 69).

-131-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing between the Lines
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 434

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.