Collection of Liu Changqing (Chinese classical literature by 储仲君

By 储仲君



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The metaphor Jupiter's verbs imply, that of fate as language ®xed in writing and gathered in a secret book, was to become a commonplace in European literature. 13 Although it is quite clearly associated with writing, ming does not take over from writing an image of irrevocability, as fatum does. Neither Heaven's commands to a royal line nor kings' commands to their nobles presume a particular, necessary end. 14 In place of the foreclosure implied by predestination, then, ming assumes a limited openness, the openness of an appeal.

If China's early literary history resembles that of other parts of the world, types of literary patterning (including rhyme and regular tetrasyllables) did not appear from nowhere, as contentless forms to be ®lled with words plucked from the ordinary lexicon. Instead, patterning grew out of habits of special language, including its themes and its commonplaces (Behr 1996: 419±423). As Gregory Nagy has put the matter in a discussion of IndoEuropean poetics and the Homeric formula: ``meter is diachronically generated by formula rather than vice versa'' (Nagy 1990a: 29).

53: 2±3, 3, 5, 13, 23±24). This observation may explain why a few of the very oldest Shijing pieces contain no apparent rhyme. It is not that texts lack literary patterningÐthat is unlikely for ritual language recorded near the beginning of a written tradition. 29 Early Western Zhou ceremonial speech apparently did not make a primary distinction between verse (regularly rhymed, metrically determined) and prose (unrhymed, metrically undetermined). The more important distinction was between (1) texts or portions of texts that do not use commonplace compounds and consonance; and (2) texts or portions of texts, typically quoted or sung speech, that do show those features, with or without regular rhyme.

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