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Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons


This literature critic was compiled by Liu Xie (466?-539?), and it is the first literary critical work, dealing comprehensively with the genres, subject matters, forms and styles of all Chinese literature of the author's own period. According to Liu Xie, literary creation has to be an organic whole under the control of mind, thought and imagination, or with his own words, "the literary mind is that mind which strives after literary forms... Since from time immemorial literary writings have always adopted an ornate style, and yet I am not implicating myself in the type of dragon carving style".
Accordingly, the first part of his book consists of descriptions and critics of 34 different literary styles:Sao(elegic poetry of the South),Shi(lyric poetry),Yuefu(songs of the Han Music Bureau),Fu(rhapsody),Song(odes),Zan(pronouncements), Zhu(sacrificial praying),Meng(oaths of agreement),Ming(inscriptions), Zhen(exhortations),lei(elegies),Bei(epitaphs),Ai(laments),Diao(condolences),Zawen(miscellaneous writings),Xie(humorous writings),Yin(enigmas),Shizhuan(historical writings),Zhuzi(speculative writings of the Masters),Lun(treatises),Shuo(discussions), Zhao(edicts),Ce(scripts),Xi(war proclamations),Yi(dispatches),Fengshan(sacrifices to Heaven and Earth),Zhang(memoranda),Biao(memorials),Zou(presentations),Qi(opening communications),Yi(discussions),Dui (responses),Shu(letters) andJi(notes).

In the second half ofThe Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, Liu Xie developed his own proposals for a good writing composition, expounding flexibility, choice of style, emotion and expression, musicalness, parallelism, metaphor and allegory, hyperbole, choice of words, literary flaws, organization, and so on.

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