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Guwen guanzhi 古文观止 "Perfected Admiration of Ancient Literature"

The Guwen guanzhi 古文观止 “Perfected admiration of ancient literature” is a collection of literary high-standing works from the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) to the late Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It was compiled by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholars Wu Chucai 吴楚材 and Wu Diaohou 吴调侯 and then revised by their teacher Wu Xingzuo 吴兴祚. The Guwen guanzhi was printed in 1695. It contains 222 short prose writings in 12 juan “scrolls”. The texts were intentionally selected to serve as model texts for education, and the Guwen guanzhi was thought as a kind of text book. Wu Chucai has also compiled a textbook to the philosopher Zhu Xi’s 朱熹 famous historical critique Tongjian gangmu 通鉴纲目, the Gangjian yizhi lu 纲鉴易知录.

Almost all texts included in the Guwen guanzhi are prose text, and only a small portion belongs to the genre of rhymed prose (pianwen 骈文). Compared to other classical anthologies like the Wenxuan 文选, the Guwen guanzhi comprises texts from a much broader timeframe and does not concentrate on different literary genres, as the Wenxuan does. The contents of the texts are thus much more differentiated as in theWenxuan. The texts are accordingly arranged chronologically, divided into seven ages roughly corresponding to dynasties. The selection of certain authors and their style of writing is a very important aspect of the Guwen guanzhi. Excellent writers thus can serve as models for future generations. All texts are shortly commented to give the reader an impression of its general character and meaning.

The texts of the anthology Guwen guanzhi are not only important as exemplarious pieces of high-standing literature but were also important texts during their time. A large part of the writings has political implications. The Guwen guanzhi is thus a source collection for literature, philosophy and history.

1.-3. 周文 Zhouwen Literature from the Zhou period
4. 秦文 Qinwen Literature from the Qin period
5.-6. 汉文 Hanwen Literature from the Han period
7. 六朝唐文 Liuchao-Tang wen Literature from the Six Dynasties and Tangperiods
8. 唐文 Tangwen Literature from the Tang period
9. 唐宋文 Tang-Song wen Literature from the Tang and Song periods
10.-11. 宋文 Songwen Literature from the Song period
12. 明文 Mingwen Literature from the Ming period
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