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Towards Defining a Chinese Heroism

C. H. Wang
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 95, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1975), pp. 25-35
DOI: 10.2307/599155
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/599155
Page Count: 11
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Towards Defining a Chinese Heroism
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Abstract

When scholars and critics say that there is no epic in the long and rich literary tradition of China, they obviously refer to the fact that martial heroism is never quite specifically celebrated in Chinese poetry. This paper attempts to define a cultural heroism as established in the early Chou era and developed in some subsequent periods. The sublime quality of the king's acts in accordance with this heroism is "epical" which, in the justification of the overthrowing of the Shang dynasty, becomes the sustaining force of the so-called Weniad. The epic perception of the Weniad repudiates martial spirit in the ideal government. More, it directs the Chinese poet of all ages to the conscious ellipsis of battle in poetry. The ellipsis of battle is an unmistakable characteristic of the narrative structure of all Chinese poetry about war.

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