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Chinese Literature Masterpieces

Selected Chinese Literature Masterpieces 
Title (English Translation)Title (Chinese Characters plus Pinyin Romanization)Author or CompilerRemarks
Book of Changes易经 yi jing Cornerstone to Chinese philosophy. A compendium and classic of ancient cosmic principles.
Classic of Poetry诗经 shi jingCompiled by Confucius (551~479 BC)Earliest existing anthology of Chinese poems and songs, Over half of the poems have originally been popular songs concerning basic human issues such as love, marriage, work, and war.
Li Sao离骚 li saoQu Yuan (340~278 BC)One of the most famous poems of Romanticism of China; a representative work of the Chu Ci (literally "Poetry of Chu") form of poetry.
The Art of War孙子兵法 sun zi bing faSun Wu (535~471 BC)One of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy; likely influenced Napoleon.
Analects of Confucius论语 lun yuCompiled by disciples of ConfuciusRecords of speeches by Confucius. One of the canons of Confucianism
Tao Te Jing道德经 dao de jingLaoziFoundational text of the Philosophical Taoism and central in Religious Daoism
Records of the Grand Historian史记 shi jiSima Qian (145~87 (?) BC)The first systematic Chinese historical text, the Records profoundly influenced Chinese historiography and prose.
Rhapsody on Shanglin Park
上林赋 shang lin fu
Sima Xiangru (79~118 BC)Representative work of fu poetry, and model for many later imitators.
Nineteen Old Poems古诗十九首 gu shi shi jiu shou An anthology of nineteen poems collected during the Han Dynasty. Very influential in regards to later poetry, in part because of their innovative use of the five-character line.
Peach Blossom Spring桃花源记 tao hua yuan jiTao Yuanming (365~427)Description of the Chinese version of utopia.
The Return归去来兮辞gui qu lai xi ciTao Yuanming (365~427)A manifesto of China recluse culture, in which Tao expresses his exhilaration on retreating from a bureaucratic career back to a carefree, reclusive life.
Ballad of Mulan木兰辞 mu lan ci A folksong from Northern Dynasties China, recounting the story of Mulan, a girl who goes to war in place of her father. Adapted to a movie “Mulan” in 1998 by Disney Animation.
Thoughts on a Still Night静夜思jing ye siLi Bai (701~762)A short poem themed on homesickness. One of the most famous Chinese poems.
Three Hundred Tang Poems唐诗三百首 tang shi san bai shouCompiled by Sun Zhu, 1763A selection of the Tang dynasty poetry, selected based on their popularity and educational value. For centuries, taught in elementary schools for students to memorize and use them to read and write.
Peony Pavilion牡丹亭 mu dan tingTang Xianzu (1550~1616) The premier example of the Kunqu Opera that was popular in the 17th century. The supernatural story centers around a young girl named Du Liniang who dies pining for a lover whom she's met only once in a dream. But years later, Liu Mengmei, the object of her dreamed lover, is to come and stay in her town, finds her portrait, and revives her.  
Journey to the West 西游记 xi you jiWu Cheng’en (1501~1582) Immensely popular with the Chinese folk. One of the four greatest Chinese classic novels, fictionalizing the experience of the pilgrimage of Xuanzang, a Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk, to India with his three disciples: Sun Wukong (the Monkey King), Zhu Bajie (the Pig), and Sha Wujing (the Friar Sandy). With a strong background in Chinese folk religion, mythology and value systems.
A Dream of Red Mansions 红楼梦 hong lou mengCao Xueqing (1715~1763) The pinnacle of Chinese classic fiction. Through the love story between Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, the main plot provides a detailed, episodic record of the wealthy and aristocratic Jia family. The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters (some thirty main characters and over four hundred minor ones), but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese aristocracy. A field of study known as “Redology” has developed, devoted exclusively to this novel.  


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