Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

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Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby John Yu » 21 Apr 2012, 16:03

I've spent the last half year or so learning classical Chinese by reading various articles and selections from famous works; now I'd like to try and tackle a whole work. Any recommendations?

I was thinking of starting with Analects (論語) and Mencius (孟子) because they're the most famous.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby ironlady » 21 Apr 2012, 21:51

I'm not a real heavy Classical Chinese reader here, but it seems to me that the later the period the author comes from, the more similar the structure of the language is to Modern Mandarin, and thus the easier it (might) be to read. That was my experience. At least it held true between the really early stuff vs., say, Tang writing.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby riceworm » 21 Apr 2012, 23:43

I like 千字文 and 道德經. For a longer reading list, see 名家大手筆.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby ehophi » 22 Apr 2012, 06:13

John Yu wrote:I've spent the last half year or so learning classical Chinese by reading various articles and selections from famous works; now I'd like to try and tackle a whole work. Any recommendations?

I was thinking of starting with Analects (論語) and Mencius (孟子) because they're the most famous.


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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby Feiren » 22 Apr 2012, 07:33

I agree. The Shiji. Zuozhuan is also really interesting (and very early). Shishuo xinyu is also fun.

In some ways, later stuff from the Ming or Qing is actually more difficult because they are so steeped in the lore of centuries before.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby John Yu » 22 Apr 2012, 17:34

I considered 史記 but then I thought, "Oh it's too long." Now that I think about it, though, I really liked some of the stories I read from it (like 鴻門宴,破釜沉舟,垓下之圍,完璧歸趙,etc.) and it'd be interesting to read more of this stuff.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 22 Apr 2012, 22:30

史記 is GREAT fun. One of the few classical books I really enjoyed reading, though to be honest I haven't read a whole lot (I've read lots of excerpts though).

There's a collection of 台灣古典散文, that's worth reading. Very interesting stuff, all little bits and pieces. A lot of it's probably more interesting for me than you because they mention a lot of places in Tainan, which I drive past everyday (or can go down and look at). There's the odd piece from Yilan or Taipei though, and a very beautiful piece about seeing Yushan from Jiayi.

Then there's this one official who ended up getting kicked out to the boonies in China (my guess is for not being corrupt enough, I forgot the official story). Anyway, turns out he was a great official but he wrote some cracked up stuff. One is a declaration to the crocodiles giving them 14 days to leave or he'll shoot them all ('I'm giving you 3 days to leave, if you haven't left in three days I"ll give you another 4, if you haven't left by then I'll give you another 7, and if you STILL haven't left I'll call all the best archers and kill you all). I'm fairly upset that I no longer have that book actually (I just remembered I lent it to a classmate the day of the exam) but the author was called 韓愈。 All of his stuff is quite good reading.

These are mostly all 散文 so relatively short (even 史記 is like a collection of short stories). haven't tried 西遊記 or 紅樓夢 yet.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby John Yu » 22 Apr 2012, 23:16

I just read the baihua translation of that piece about the crocodiles. It's called 祭鱷魚文. I also read the wiki article on it, and it just said the essay was "full of bold and skillful language" or something like that, without even mentioning the inherent humor of writing a declaration to crocodiles.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby John Yu » 22 Apr 2012, 23:25

I also recently read some articles about Taiwanese aborigines (part of the 40 articles selected by the MOE to test high school students). They were called 東番記, 裨海記遊, and 紀水沙連. The first one talked about aboriginal customs, such as how they're matriarchal instead of patriarchal, and how they hunted deer, etc. The second one talked about the author's experience being led by the aborigines to the source of sulfur at the Yangming Shan volcano. The last one talked about aborigines in 日月潭 and how they had this wonderfully romantic life of riding around on kayaks and living in nature.
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Re: Recommendation for Classical Chinese Reading?

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 24 Apr 2012, 14:42

I think I have the last one of those in my little book of Taiwanese classical texts, though I can't find it right now. :aiyo:

I remember Muzha Man (or Mao Man... it was an M-guy) posting a link to the memoirs of a man who came down to Taiwan. I think he sailed past it the first time but eventually ended up living here, and was somewhat of a drunken man-whore. He said that was a very good read, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called or who it was by!
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