A selection of the finest prose of ancient China
Chinese Name: 古文观止
English Name: Guwen Guanzhi
Author: Wu Chucai 吴楚材 and Wu Diaohou吴调侯
Originally Published: In1695 (Qing Dynasty 清朝）
Genre: Literature, Proses
Brief Introduction of Guwen Guanzhi
Guwen Guanzhi 古文观止 is an anthology of ancient prose compiled by Wu Chucai and Wu Tiaohou in the Qing Dynasty 清朝, which is called the best collection of ancient Chinese prose. The book was a literary reader for schools during the Reign of Kang Xi 康熙时期. It was originally a textbook for students, and was formally printed in 1695.
A total of 222 essays from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty 东周 to the Ming Dynasty 明朝 are included in the Guwen Guanzhi. The book is divided into 12 volumes, mainly prose, mixed with parallel prose and verse. The authors selected excellent ancient prose, and in the selection of annotations they gathered all over the famous annotations and plus their own opinions.
The articles from Guwen Guanzhi are short and concise in language, which are easy to be read, and give consideration to both ideological and artistic features. The book contains the author’s notes between the lines and comments at the end of the article, for beginners to understand the article has certain help.
The book is sorted according to dynasties and authors. In the Pre-Qin 先秦, “Zuo Zhuan” 左传 was the most popular. In the Han Dynasty 汉朝, “Shi Ji” 史记 was the most popular. In the Tang and Song dynasties 唐朝和宋朝, articles of Han Yu 韩愈, Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元, Ouyang Xiu 欧阳修 and Su Shi 苏轼 were the most popular.
There is an obvious emphasis on the selection of prose, emphasizing the Pre-Qin, Han, Tang and Song dynasties 宋朝, but not the Jin 金朝, Six 六朝 and Ming 明朝 dynasties, which not only reflects the subjective consciousness of the author, but also conforms to the general situation of the prose before the Qing Dynasty.
Author of Guwen Guanzhi
The book was compiled by Wu Chucai and his nephew Wu Tiaohou.
Wu Chucai (1655 ~ 1719) was born in Shao Xing 绍兴, Zhe Jiang Province 浙江省. He was diligent and studious since childhood. At the age of 24, Wu Chucai 吴楚材 defected to the family of his uncle Wu Xingzuo 吴兴祚, and was highly respected. In addition to writing cases, he also worked as an assistant to the son of his uncle. Wu Xingzuo commented that Wu Chucai was “friendly in nature, dutiful to his elders, devoted to mechanics, especially fond of reading the history of classics, and had unique views on the history of Classics”.
Wu Chucai also took the imperial examinations for several times, but failed many times. Later, with his nephew Marquis Wu Diaohou wrote this book. In addition, he also wrote “Gang Jian Yi Zhi Lu”纲鉴易知录.
Wu Tiaohou was a native of Shao Xing 绍兴, Zhe Jiang Province 浙江省. He was full of classics, but in the official career was not satisfied and buried folk. He had been a teacher of traditional private school for a long time, and was famous for co-editing the Guwen Guanzhi with his uncle Wu Chucai.
Excerpts From Guwen Guanzhi
Evaluation of Guwen Guanzhi
The literary influence of “The Anthology of Zhao Ming” and “Guwen Guanzh” should not be underestimated.
Lu Xun 鲁迅
Guwen Guanzhi of essays is short and significant, with detailed but uncomplicated annotations and precise pronunciation that make it a better literary reader.
Wu Xingzuo 吴兴祚