Posts Categorized: Ancient

Confucius

Confucius, Confucius, Confucius. What more can be said about the man who, since two and a half millinea after he lived, has defined China. In this podcast, we will focus on how a single passage, just eight characters echoes throughout Chinese literature and beyond, even into the contemporaneous Communist Party shindig happening in Beijing this…read more

Reading Between the Lines: A Discussion with Professor Stephen Durrant

  Well, this is it: our Aerosmith-on-Wayne’s-World podcast, the one where someone way out of our league is gracious enough to pay us a visit. We recently had the distinct privilege of sitting down with one of the U.S. academy’s most respected scholars on ancient Chinese texts: Professor Emeritus Stephen Durrant. Prof. Durrant is the…read more

Zhuangzi’s Butterfly

Are you listening to the world’s only Chinese Literature podcast right now? Or are you just a butterfly floating around who is dreaming that you are a human who is listening to this podcast? How can you prove that you are actually the human rather than a butterfly dreaming they are a human? Is it…read more

There Can Be Only One: The Biography of Xiang Yu

  The multi-volume Records of the Grand Historian, by Sima Qian, is one of the masterworks of Chinese history and literature . Even today it is the only source for much of our information on pre-Han (206 B.C.E.) China. One of the classic stories from the collection is The Biography of Xiang Yu (《项羽本纪》). Lee and I…read more

Thinking of My Brothers on a Moonlit Night

  Today, we’re looking at one of Du Fu’s poems. We covered one of his works before, but his oeuvre is massive. Here is the poem for the day:       月夜憶舍弟   戍鼓斷人行,秋邊一雁聲。 露從今夜白,月是故鄉明。 有弟皆分散,無家問死生。 寄書長不達,況乃未休兵。   Thinking of my Brothers on a Moonlit Night   The drums of war have cut the roads…read more

Moonstruck: Wandering the Galaxy with Li Bai

When people in China think of poetry, two names come immediately to mind: the Tang Dynasty (618-907 B.C.E.) poets Du Fu and Li Bai. In part two of our discussion of these greats, we take a look at one of Li Bai’s most famous works, and discuss why he’s our go-to Tang literary figure to…read more

Grief in a Fallen City: Du Fu’s Ever-Present Histories

When people in China think of poetry, two names spring to mind: the Tang Dynasty (618-907 B.C.E.) poets Du Fu and Li Bai. In this first of a pair of podcasts on their works, we examine a well-known poem by Du Fu and discuss why the poet was both the greatest master of Chinese poetic form,…read more

High Plains Drifter: Li Shangyin

Though not as famous as his predecessors, Li Shangyin, the premier poet from the Late Tang, is an amazing poet. Furthermore, his adoration for Du Fu and other Tang poets helped create the cult of the Tang that is still going on in China. In today’s podcast, Rob and Lee take a look at a…read more

‘Cause I’m the Taxman: The Voyages of Yu Gong

The Tribute of Yu (禹貢) is one of the oldest mythological texts related to Chinese statehood. Yu was a semi-mythical god-king who traveled around the nine states noting what each of these states had that was worth giving as tribute to the emperor. The text is almost certainly not as old as it purports to…read more

Emperor Shen’s New Groove: Song Dynasty Exam Reform

Have you ever heard about China’s intense exam culture? Much like its East Asian counterparts, China both loves and loves to hates its exam system. The most infamous, the Gaokao, determines the testtaker’s college choice, and even major in some cases. What if we told you that this exam culture had more than a thousand…read more