China has one of the earliest civilizations in the world. The brilliance of Chinese literature, with its long history, diversified genres and forms, rivals any great literature in the world. The book of Poetry, the earliest anthology of poetry in China , a collection of poems created between 11 th century BC and 6 th century BC, reflects the depth and profundity of social life. The special expressive methods used in the Book of Poetry, i.e. fu (descriptive prose interspersed with verse), bi (metaphor), and xing (evocation, starting off a song by evoking images quite apart from the central subject), are praised by many foreign scholars.
Shi poetry and Ci Poetry boomed in the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty respectively. Drama emerged in China before the 13 th century, when Yuan Drama was at its prime. The representative figure in Yuan Drama was Guan Hanqing, who created altogether 70 dramas, including Snow in Mid-summer, Rescued by Coquette, and The wife ¨Csnatcher and Lord Guan on His way to the Feast. These works not only demonstrate the richness and maturity of Chinese drama, but also integrate the merits of Shi poetry of the Tang Dynasty and Ci poetry of the Song Dynasty (song lyrics). Guan Hanqing set the lines in his dramas to music, hence expanding the performance of poetry from being recited to being sung.
The unique modes of expression and artistic charm of Shi and Ci poetry bring full play to its language potential. Shi and Ci are written in varied ways following strict forms, and are read sonorously and forcefully. Mao Zedong, the great man of our times, while carrying on the excellent tradition of Shi and Ci, also promoted the art to new heights.
The novel first came into being in the Song Dynasty about 1,000 years ago. It was called ¡° storytelling script¡± at the time. In the early Ming Dynasty there emerged two great novels: Outlaws of the Marsh written by Shi Nai'an, and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms written by Luo Guanzhong. The two novels have won great fame worldwide for their magnificent stories and vivid portrayal of a galaxy of distinctive characters.
Modern Chinese literature (from the new literature formed during the May 4 Movement in 1919 to the socialist literature established after the foundation of new China in 1949), which was born and developed during great revolutionary storms, joins contemporary world literature as a further advanced and rational expression. Many works have entered the treasured bank of the world literature for their perfect combination of rich content and consummate artistry: such as The True Story of Ah Q, Midnight, Family, Spring, Autumn, The Hurricane, The Sun Shine over the Sanggan River, Stormy Years; the modern dramas Thunderstorm, Sunrise, Teahouse, Cai Wenji, Wu Zetian; and poem by Guo Moruo, Ai Qing, He Jingzhi, Guo Xiaochuan and Li Ji.
Chinese literature has formed five distinctive characteristics during the past more than 3,000 years of development