By “key concepts in Chinese thought and culture” we mean concepts and keywords or phrases the Chinese people have created or come to use that are fundamentally pertinent to Chinese philosophy, humanistic spirit, way of thinking, and values.
Narrative, Analogy, and Association
These are the three ways of expression employed in The Book of Songs: a narrative is a direct reference to an object or an event, an analogy metaphorically likens one thing to another, and an association is an impromptu expression of a feeling, a mood or a thought, or using an objective thing as metaphor for sensibilities. Confucian scholars of the Han Dynasty summarized and formulated this concept of narrative, analogy, and association, which later became the basic principle and method in classical Chinese literary creation.
In The Book of Songs, narrative, analogy, and association are three techniques in its creation, whereas ballads, court hymns, and eulogies represent three established styles of the poems. (Kong Yingda: Correct Meaning of “Preface to The Book of Songs“)
A narrative is a direct description of an object, an event or a relationship. An analogy metaphorically likens one thing to another. An association employs a metaphor as a lead-in for the real subject of a poem. (Zhu Xi: Studies on The Book of Songs)