Oral Epic Traditions in China and Beyond  book cover
1st Edition

Oral Epic Traditions in China and Beyond

ISBN 9781032191829
Published December 31, 2021 by Routledge
242 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $34.00
was $170.00
USD $136.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This volume is the masterpiece of Chao Gejin, one of the best-known Chinese scholars of epic studies, during the last several decades between the 20th and 21st centuries.

The discussion ranges from Homeric and Indo-European epics to renewed discoveries of age-old African and Asian epics. The author details developments in research from Parry and Lord’s work on Homeric epics and Serbo-Croatian oral poetry to his own research on the Mongol heroic epic. The book traces the formation of theoretical systems such as Oral Formulaic Theory, Ethnopoetics, and Performance Theory, and ends with the author’s explorations of the 20th-century Mongolian singer Arimpil’s singing of his native epic poetry. By combining China’s theoretical concerns in verbal art and Western theories in folklore, Chao illustrates the nature and feature of oral epic in many ways, and is heading for constructing an oral poetics in a broader sense.

Students and scholars of epic studies, literature, folklore, and anthropology will find this an essential reference.

Table of Contents

Part I Critical Reflections on Epic Studies. 1. Homer to Arimpil: The Pardigm Shift in International Epic Studies. 2. The History of Epic Research. 3. Current Issues in Epic Research. 4. John Miles Foley and Recent Research Trends on Oral Traditions. 5 Gregory Nagy: From the Homeric Question to Homeric Questions. 6. Lauri Honko: The Identity Function of Epic Poetry. Part II Theories and Methods of Oral Poetics. 7. Oral Poetics and the Oral Formulaic Theory. 8. Field Investigations of Oral Epic Transmission. 9. Oral Poetics and Chinese Epic Research: Interview with the Author. 10. Types of Oral Epic Texts: A Mongol Case Study. 11. “Returning to the Voice”: Textual research of Oral Epics as a Starting Point. 12. “How Long is Long”: Epic Length. Part III Indigenous Research on Mongolian Oral Poetics. 13. Mongolian Oral Epic Poetry. 14. The Oirat Epic Cycle of Jangar. 15. Analysis of Mongolian Epic Formulae. 16. Analysis of Mongolian Epic Prosody. Part IV Comparative Study of Four Epic Traditions. 17. Challenges in Comparative Oral Epic (Co-authored with Miles Foley)

View More



Chao Gejin is a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Being a folklorist and literary critic, he focuses on folkloristics and literature, oral traditions in particular.