The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature

The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature

Victor H. Mair
Mark Bender
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 800
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/mair15312
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    The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature
    Book Description:

    In The Columbia Anthology of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature, two of the world's leading sinologists, Victor H. Mair and Mark Bender, capture the breadth of China's oral-based literary heritage. This collection presents works drawn from the large body of oral literature of many of China's recognized ethnic groups-including the Han, Yi, Miao, Tu, Daur, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Kazak-and the selections include a variety of genres. Chapters cover folk stories, songs, rituals, and drama, as well as epic traditions and professional storytelling, and feature both familiar and little-known texts, from the story of the woman warrior Hua Mulan to the love stories of urban storytellers in the Yangtze delta, the shaman rituals of the Manchu, and a trickster tale of the Daur people from the forests of the northeast. The Cannibal Grandmother of the Yi and other strange creatures and characters unsettle accepted notions of Chinese fable and literary form. Readers are introduced to antiphonal songs of the Zhuang and the Dong, who live among the fantastic limestone hills of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; work and matchmaking songs of the mountain-dwelling She of Fujian province; and saltwater songs of the Cantonese-speaking boat people of Hong Kong. The editors feature the Mongolian epic poems of Geser Khan and Jangar; the sad tale of the Qeo family girl, from the Tu people of Gansu and Qinghai provinces; and local plays known as "rice sprouts" from Hebei province. These fascinating juxtapositions invite comparisons among cultures, styles, and genres, and expert translations preserve the individual character of each thrillingly imaginative work.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52673-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Victor H. Mair
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. CHINESE UNITS OF MEASURE
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. xx-xx)
  7. “I SIT HERE AND SING FOR YOU”: The Oral Literature of China
    (pp. 1-12)
    Mark Bender and Victor Mair

    “I sit here and sing for you”—appropriate as a distillation of all the works collected here—is but one line in a folk song from an ethnic minority group in south-central China: one line in a collection of translations drawn from a massive body of oral literature accumulated by Chinese and non-Chinese scholars over a period of several hundred years. To get an idea of the scale of the available corpus, envision this: between 1949 and the early 1990s, Chinese researchers, in a series of nationwide “intangible culture” investigation projects, collected approximately 3 million folk songs and nearly 2...

  8. Chapter 1 FOLK STORIES AND OTHER SPOKEN TRADITIONS
    (pp. 13-89)

    Folk stories constitute a special category of oral narrative that has received a great deal of attention from scholars worldwide since the 1840s, when the Grimm brothers began to publish collections of stories gathered from rural inhabitants in Germany. From that time on, tales such as “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and many others appeared in print form in many languages, often in versions censored to appeal to prevailing sensibilities about sex and violence. As the nineteenth century progressed, many scholars worldwide extensively collected large bodies of similar...

  9. Chapter 2 FOLK SONG TRADITIONS
    (pp. 90-178)

    Singing has been an integral part of most folk cultures in China since before recorded history. The earliest records of Chinese literature, dating from the era of Confucius (fifth century B.C.E.), are collections of songs from throughout the realm made by government officials. Although polished by their erudite collectors, many of the images of nature and human society in the Book of Odes (Shijing), especially the section devoted to folk songs, resonate with those found in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) collections Mountain Songs (Shan’ge) and The Hanging Branch (Guazhi’er) made by the author Feng Menglong (1574–1645) and even...

  10. Chapter 3 FOLK RITUAL
    (pp. 179-212)

    Rituals are integral to the wide range of belief systems making up China’s complex religious heritage. The most popular of the formal ritual traditions are the Three Teachings, based on the doctrines of Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Localized belief systems, some rooted in the very ancient past, include animism, shamanism, and ancestor reverence. These beliefs find local expression in a multitude of forms that are often a synthesis of elements of several belief systems. Moreover, it is not uncommon for gods and spirits from many traditions to be worshipped in the context of a particular ritual. Other major traditions originated...

  11. Chapter 4 THE EPIC TRADITIONS
    (pp. 213-278)

    What is an epic? In recent decades, this is a question that has come to concern scholars of oral literature around the world. As researchers in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and Europe have systematically examined the performed narratives of many cultures in these regions, the standard definition of “epic” as a long poem of history focused on a hero—based on the model of the Greek epics of Homer—has widened to include material that makes neat definitions of the term difficult. In addition to the increased awareness of the wealth of epics around the globe, scholars have come...

  12. Chapter 5 FOLK DRAMA
    (pp. 279-308)

    In China, traditional drama has had a complicated and fertile relationship with other expressive arts, including the storytelling arts called quyi (art of melodies), various musical traditions, and popular literature. All told, Chinese scholars have documented more than 360 different local styles of drama within the borders of the country. Those offered by professional troupes, in particular Beijing (Peking) opera (jingju), constitute the best known of the forms, though there are vast numbers of lesser-known local styles, with varying levels of organization. The styles are differentiated by ethnic group, local tradition, language, music, and emphasis on certain dramatic conventions. Despite...

  13. Chapter 6 PROFESSIONAL STORYTELLING TRADITIONS OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH
    (pp. 309-618)

    Over three hundred local storytelling traditions, performed by both professional and part-time or avocational storytellers, were active in China in the late imperial era at the beginning of the twentieth century. Most of these traditions, collectively called quyi (art of melodies) since the 1950s, involve a combination of speaking and singing (that is, they are prosimetric in form) and are often performed by one or more storytellers with some sort of musical accompaniment. Traditional venues for these professional performance genres ranged from districts in urban areas that featured all sorts of acrobatics, magic acts, and other entertainments to marketplaces, private...

  14. FURTHER READINGS
    (pp. 619-626)
  15. CONTRIBUTORS AND TRANSLATORS
    (pp. 627-632)
  16. SOURCES OF PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED SELECTIONS
    (pp. 633-636)
  17. TRANSLATIONS FROM THE ASIAN CLASSICS
    (pp. 637-640)