Ancient Chinese Literature

The Legend of Chinese literature

There are myriad of discussions about Chinese’ economy worldwide, on the other hand, scarcely we know or we are almost in dark about Chinese’ literary culture. Technology has made China’s progress, industry and trade an inevitable partner in the world court; as we are fascinated by Chinese investment and use of technology in industry, trade and infrastructure but its interest in the expansion of culture is not so noticeable, especially in Bengali language. Chinese literature and culture has not yet made such an impact. China is the largest country and its culture is vast too, having a diverse literature. There were about five dynasties in China; such as Chin, Han, Tang, Sung and Ming – these are pure indigenous dynasties. However, before the Ming dynasty, at first the Mughal and later the Manchu dynasties were in dominance who were of foreign origin, the Chinese were a conquered nation during the periods of these two dynasties.

So, five indigenous and two foreign dynasties are always commemorated in China. Besides, there are some tribes too, however, it was not possible for a single dynasty ruler to have a solitary dominion over the whole of China, and as such many times China broke up. There have been several civil wars within the China including revolts and riots; and the enjoyment of an unbroken Chinese empire has not appeared on the dooms of many. However, the Chin, Han, and Tang – some of the emperors of these three dynasties were indeed Sino-emperor, and they also had royal poets and writers who highlighted the then current socio-economic circumstances in literature.

The development of Chinese civilization “Mural” took place during the twelfth century Sung regime while the “Augustan” of the twelfth century is known as the Golden Age. The Han dynasty, on the other hand, prospered in all aspects of China, therefore, the Chinese were often proud to call themselves Henasthan. During the Tang and Sung periods there were dramatic changes in various fields, the era of Matsyang was resolute, and the glorious era of Shi Huati and Han Uthi was returned while the whole of China became known as an Undivided Empire.

The subject matter of Chinese literature is different for tradition and change, the passion for tradition is the heart of Chinese people. Tradition, nationalism and socialism – these three aspects have been described in literature in different ways, it should be noted here that the Chinese believe that China is the center of world civilization, and it is China where the light of civilization spread to the world from.

But in the tradition of foreign policy, China has come to know the West and various movements, such as the Taiping Revolution, the Boksha Rebellion from the Ahifen War, etc. The history that has spread in China has been accelerated by Western civilization. The overall modifications of China in the last half of the nineteenth century is conceivable; among the overall changes the Taiping Rebellion Reform Movement, the anti-Christian missionary movement, are quite significant.

Various revolts have taken place in China from time immemorial, sometimes with foreign link and sometimes regional. The reasons were mainly corruption in the bureaucracy, tax collection pressure, excessive rents, population growth, injustice to the minority community and social unrest. After the Ahifen war, China’s economic structure collapsed and anarchy was spread.
The Chinese had to fight against the army in the forties and fifties of the nineteenth century; the new dynasty that led to anarchy and instability was Tiener Wang, in different cases, men and women were equalized; legislation was enacted for tying the legs of girls, prostitution, and barring the polygamy among men and confiscating private properties.

Basically the revolutions were the Taiping Revolt and the Peasant Revolt where the rebels were attracted to Christianity because it was closely associated with the Christian missionary movement. The burning of churches, the destruction of homes, the killing of local and foreign Christians were regular phenomena.

From the political turmoil they developed a nationalist leadership by infuriating a hostile attitude against foreign influence; educated Chinese were aroused by foreign enmity mixed with hatred; fear, disgust and animosity created a nationalist consciousness among the Chinese and paved the way for a national movement. The sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China was greatly undermined by foreign influences, everywhere the glory of foreign imperialism was inviolable, as such the sense of nationalism mostly aroused amongst the Chinese, because independence – the essence of nationalism – was rooted in ethnic unity.

The Chinese Revolution of 1911 led to the abolition of the monarchy and the fall of the Chinese dynasty; elected representative organizations were formed at the city, district, province and national levels, in all that revolutions the revolutionaries were dedicated only to the struggle against the Manchu dynasty. As a result, the struggle was extinguished immediately after the establishment of the republic; therefore, the sole doctrine of the revolutionaries and its necessities no longer existed, In other words, their revolutions yielded no result; but in the chaotic and turbulent environment the revolutionaries got a chance to boost up themselves, and then began the turning point in China’s national life for the May-Fourth movement.

The effects of the Russian Revolution of 1917 were directly felt, the developed form of national industry came to existence, the national bourgeoisie and the working class emerged, and what was actually called the beginning of the labor movement started. The labor movement was led by the Chinese bourgeoisie who gained popular support. At that time, the Chinese student community played an active role in cultural pride, they became closely acquainted with Western literature and were constantly associated with the works of Tolstoy, Bernadette, and Ibsen. It should be noted here that in the May-Fourth movement, students took part in the anti-imperialist movement which was joined by small and large industrialists and the working class. In a real sense, the May-Fourth movement can be called the epoch of China; and with that treaty China entered the modern era, and the backbone of that modern era was Marxism-Leninism. The slogan of eviction of individual ownership was uttered touching the minds of the people, the last level of capitalism was observed and the Communist Party of China was formed in Shanghai. In such a peak time, inspiring for literary movement, the famous Chinese writer, Kuomo-ko, commented that the propagation of the socialist revolution should be the great objective of literary pursuit.
The Chinese were vocal in the anti-Japanese movement at the time, not Marxism-Leninism, but rather the Chinese were then immersed in the mantra of nationalism. The Long March was particularly noteworthy in this regard, which was being commemorated with a grand mission of nationalist and communist ideology. Not only in Chinese history but also in their literature, the Long March has become everlasting. The path of communist revolution was spread through various movements; in a real sense, China’s transformation was as spectacular as it was evolutionary, most of the communes were demolished, family farms were restored and open markets were established.

The lion’s share of China is mountainous; and the rocky tops are inhabited by people on the banks of rivers and valleys; that is why the civilization of China is called the civilization of rivers and valleys. Large numbers of boats sailed along the Yangtze River, The tribes lived in the valley areas, especially in the Liangshan Mountains, while the Ye and Nakshi tribes settled in the remote mountains of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The above mentioned dynasties, imperialism, socialism, feudalism, rivers, canals, mountains, valleys, wars for social change, protests, socialist manipulations, the reform of the People’s Republic of China, the cries of the deprived Chinese, the abolition of slavery, and the effects of social customs etc. – all these have enriched Chinese literature. The Chinese liked the decoration of the mountains, the bamboo rows or the bushes; the hobby of fishing and hunting is a big feature of Chinese life. Autumn lotus and lily, the pink color of the sunset, the reflection of the mountain peaks in the marsh, the owl’s call at night, the row of boats on the river, etc. have flourished the Chinese literature.

Chinese love, literature are written in sweet rhythms; there was a commotion in Chinese society about marriage, because there was no free-mingling in love, no man of any dynasty could marry a daughter of any odd dynasty. Many tragic events, including grief, suicide, and escape, would occur if an odd-love or dissimilar marriage was consummated i.e. the tragedy of distraction would happen. China is flooded with multiple genres of literature; perhaps the Nobel laureate and worldly renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore has expressed his travel memories in his poems in such way as in the following:

Once I have been in China
Amongst those who are unknown (to me)
They put a mark on my forehead saying “oh! you are quite known to us”
They accepted me keeping aside my alien-ness
Instead I turned to be someone always in the heart (of them)
In an unexpected identity
Opening the floodgate of joy
Though I was not a fan of China, neither I fashioned myself with Sino-clothing
I did not understand it before (that)
Rebirth happens where friends are found

Rabindranath Tagore

The evaluation of Chinese literature is still questionable, since it has not been translated into foreign languages that much, undoubtedly, the subject matter of Chinese literature as literature is rich in socio-economic values. There are tons of hype and publicity around the world about fresh writers, and conversely, there is a great lack of that about Lipu-Tunfu in Chinese literature.

Abul Quasem Haider
আবুল কাসেম হায়দার

সাবেক সহ সভাপতি এফবিসিসিআই, বিটিএমইএ, বিজিএমইএ , বেসরকারি বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় সমিতি, প্রতিষ্ঠতা চেয়ারম্যান ইস্টার্ন ইউনির্ভাসিটি ও ইসলামিক ফাইন্যান্স এন্ড ইনভেস্টমেন্ট লি:, অষ্ট্রেলিয়ান ইন্টারন্যাশনাল স্কুল, আবুল কাসেম হায়দার মহিলা কলেজ সন্দ্বীপ, চট্টগ্রাম, সাবেক সিনেট সদস্য ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়।

তিনি আজীবন সদস্য : এশিয়াটিক সোসাইটী বাংলাদেশ, বাংলা একাডেমী, চট্টগ্রাম সমিতি, সন্দ্বীপ সমিতি ঢাকা ।

লেখক দৈনিক আজকের আওয়াজ ও সাপ্তাহিক প্যানোরামা সম্পাদকের দায়িত্ব পালন করছেন।

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