Essays in Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Essays in Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History

1st Edition

By Paul W. Kroll


362 pages

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This is one of a pair of volumes by Paul Kroll (the companion volume deals with medieval Taoism and the poetry of Li Po). Collecting eleven essays by this leading scholar of Chinese poetry, the volume presents a selection of studies devoted to the medieval period, centering especially on the T'ang dynasty. It opens with the author's famous articles on the dancing horses of T'ang, on the emperor Hsüan Tsung's abandonment of his capital and forced execution of his prized consort, and on poems relating to the holy mountain T'ai Shan (with special attention to Li Po). Following these are detailed examinations of landscape and mountain imagery in the poetry of the "High T'ang" period in the mid-8th century, and of an extraordinary attempt made in the mid-9th-century to recall in verse and anecdote the great days of the High T'ang. The second section of the book includes two articles on birds (notably the kingfisher and the egret) in medieval poetry, and four of Kroll's influential studies focusing on the verse-form known as the fu or "rhapsody," especially drawing from the 3rd-century poet Ts'ao Chih and the 7th-century poet Lu Chao-lin.


'This book […] is not just another entertaining book to read to learn about Chinese literature and history. It provides an impressive demonstration of how to conduct research in the field of classical Chinese literature. The author locates one issue or object of study in each of his writing, collects copious data about the object, and then unveils a comprehensive picture of all the author has discovered through analysis of the literary work.'

China Review International

"Paul W. Kroll’s "Heyue yingling ji and the Attributes of High Tang Poetry" challenge today’s views of anthologies and collections.Working on the Heyue yingling ji ?????, an anthology from the High Tang, Kroll finds very different selections of poems, critical comments on each poet, and a preference for old-style verse."

Hsiang-Lin Shih, St. Olaf College

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; In and About the High T'ang: The dancing horses of T'ang; The flight from the capital and the death of Precious Consort Yang; Verses from on high: the ascent of T'ai Shan; Lexical landscapes and textual mountains in the high T'ang; Nostalgia and history in mid-9th-century verse: Cheng Yü's poem on 'The Chin-yang Gate'. Poetry from Different Angles: 7 rhapsodies of Ts'ao Chih; The image of the halcyon kingfisher in medieval Chinese poetry; The egret in medieval Chinese literature; The memories of Lu Chao-lin; Tamed kite and stranded fish: Interference and apology in Lu Chao-lin's fu; The significance of the fu in the history of T'ang poetry; Index.

About the Author

Paul W. Kroll is Professor of Chinese in the Dept. of East Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Colorado, USA and the editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General