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Great Books of China invites readers to discoveror rediscoversome of the major achievements of Chinese culture and civilization. The literature of China remains largely unknown in the West, yet it offers much insight into Chinese life. The long continuity of Chinese culture means that texts created more than two thousand years ago are still part of the education and background of today’s China. Great Books of China introduces outstanding texts of various genres, including fiction, drama, and poetry; history, science, and travel. These works were written by philosophers and artists, government officials and rulers, men and women across many dynasties and from every part of China. The great books are presented in their historic, cultural, and social context, with a focused summary of their content, and information about the author.
Beginning with some of the classics of the Confucian canon and ending with modern fiction, Great Books of China features the famous novels of the fourteenth century and later times; sacred texts including the Daode jing and the Lotus sutra; poetry from around 1000 BCE through the eighth century CE and beyond; books that formed the educational background of Chinese children for many centuries; historic manuals on Chinese painting, on the construction of Chinese gardens, and on the building of traditional houses; guides to the technologies of agriculture and papermaking; and major works describing Chinese history, the military exploits of ancient generals, and the legendary journeys of Buddhist monks.
Concise, provocative, and illuminating, Great Books of China introduces the literature of one of the world’s most significant cultures and thereby helps us understand the China of past and present.
Frances Wood, a well-known historian of China and Chinese culture, was for many years head of the Chinese collections at the British Library. She has lectured widely, created exhibitions, and written a number of books including The Diamond Sutra, China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors, The Silk Road, and the Blue Guide China.