Chinese Canon - Based on Si Ku - "Literature"

Well, I was trying to go down the list and found an interesting pattern in the Si Ku listing - that key works are most-often listed with a later commentaries. Bolded names are somewhat more important ones in my view.


There are just four subcategories:


A. Chu Ci - There are only six titles under this categories - earliest being Chu Ci Zhang Ju 楚辞章句 by Wang Yi of Han Dynasty. This is highlighted probably because of its being considered a source of Chinese literature.


B. Collections by Indiviual Authors -  

1) All authors with at least one late Commentaries:

 a) Tang Dynasty (mainly known as poets, unless otherwise stated)

Li Bai 李白- 3 titles listed, 2 with commentaries

Du Fu 杜甫- 5 titles listed, 5 with commentaries

Wang Wei 王维- 1 title listed, with commentary

Han Yu 韩愈- 6 titles listed, 6 with commentaries (also known for prose)

Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元- 3 titles listed, 3 with commentaries (known primarily for prose)

Li He 李贺- 1 title listed, with commentary

(绛守居园池记 - a short hard-to-understood prose work that inspired commentaries. Not considered a key work in modern literary history)

Bai Juyi 白居易- 2 titles listed, 1 with commentary

Li Shangyin 李商隐- 3 titles listed, 2 with commentary

Wen Tingjun 温庭筠- 1 title listed, with commentary (also considered a founder of ci poetry) 

b) Song Dynasty (mainly known as shi poets, unless otherwise stated)

Su Shi 苏轼- 4 titles listed, 3 with commentaries (also known for prose, ci poetry)

Huang Tingjian 黄庭坚- 2 titles listed, 1 with commentary

Chen Shidao 陈师道- 2 titles listed, 1 with comentary

(Li Tingzhong and Li Liu - writings commented on later by a certain Sun Yunyi, mostly as instructions of how to write a letter, even considered non-mainstream by Si Ku comilers)

(Lin Jingxi - not a major figure)

2) Other key authors: (without having their commented work listed in Si Ku)

Cao Zhi 曹植- some consider he and his father and brother to be the real beginning of literary efforts in the tradition

Tao Qian 陶潜- now considered the most accomplished poet between end of Han to Sui (i.e. the whole stretch before Tang dynasty

Ouyang Xiu 欧阳修- Song dynasty author, probably as famous as Han Yu and Su Shi

Lu You 陆游 - most prolific and respected Southern Song poet



Lu Jiuyuan 陆九渊

Wang Shouren 王守仁

Neo-Confucianist whose completed works relegated from "Philosophies" category to "Literary" category, probably because they are the arch-rivals to Zhi Xi orthodoxy   


C. General Collections (including works by more than one author):


- Wen Xuan Zhu 文选注- compiled by Xiao Tong (Prince of Liang Dynasty), commentary by Li Shan - covered the whole period from Chu Ci (inclusive) to the compilation time (but excludes all authors still alive then) 

- Yu Tai Xin Yong - compiled by Xu Ling, mostly works for the majority of the 6th century during Liang / Chen dynasties

- Tang Shi Pin Hui 唐诗品汇- compiled in Ming dynasty about Tang poetry, around 7,000 poems selected, method of selection plus "taste" has more or less become canonical

- Tang Song Ba Da Jia Wen Chao 唐宋八大家文钞 ("Selected Prose Works of 8 Great Authors of Tang and Song Dynasties") -  compiled in Ming; a key work that canonizes 1> Han Yu, 2> Liu Zongyuan (these are Tang authors, others are Song authors), 3> Ouyang Xiu, 4> Wang Anshi (the famous/notorious Song reformer), 5> Zeng Gong, 6-8> The Su's (father Su Xun, elder son Su Shi, younger son Su Zhe). Essentially authors related to Neo-confucianist revival but also marginalized by later Zhu Xi orthodoxy.


D. Ci Poetry (both by individual poets or collections)

- Jue Miao Hao Ci 绝妙好词- the only title that has later commentaries as listed by Si Ku

- Hua An Ci Xuan 花庵词选- based on what I know a more representative set (fairer representation of two strands (婉约派、豪放派)of ci poetry compiled in late Southern Song, with about 1,200 ci poetry selected

- Some key ci poets listed (not included yet above): 柳永 (famous before Su Shi), 秦观 (a student of Su Shi), 周邦彦, 李清照 (famous female ci poet), 辛弃疾 (not just focused on narrow love themes - similar to Su Shi), 姜夔 

(- somehow the king of Nan Tong 李煜 I couldn't find in the Si Ku catalog)




My current thoughts of potential selections

1. Cu Ci Zhang Ju - even though some included in Wen Xuan, if there is room this work is probably too important not to be included

2. Wen Xuan Zhu - would include most of Chu Ci, some of Cao Zhi and Tao Qian

3.  Du Fu and 4.  Li Bai (for Tang poetry) - (alternately the massive collection Tang Shi Pin Hui, or the post- Si Ku collection of 300 Tang Poems)

5. Han Yu (for Tang prose) (or Tang Song Ba Da Jia Wen Chao, or a post-Si Ku smaller collection of Gu Wen Guan Zhi)

6. Su Shi (for Song shi and ci poetry and prose)

7.  Li Qingzhao (ci poetry) (or alternately the anthology Hua An Ci Xuan)


8. Lu Jiuyuan

9. Wang Shouren


The list de-selects the 2 Song poets after Su Shi, who considered themselves followers of Du Fu. Huang Tingjian was also a younger contemporary (friend-student of Su Shi).


In the most parsimonious selection, we only need 3 works (underlined) selected! With Tang poets using an anthology (which has the advantage of including my favorite poet Wang Wei), Su Shi to be representing the Gu Wen prose and Song ci poetry. (This was what was done in the World Canonical List of 36). The only "must" addition here is Wen Xuan Zhu.



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