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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Ji, “collection,” is the last of the four-part Chinese bibliographical scheme after “Classics,” “Histories,” and “Masters.” Referring to collections of literary works, it is central to our understanding of the premodern Chinese conception of literature. This chapter focuses on bieji (literary collections by individual authors) and introduces the fundamental issues regarding the formation and content of a literary collection. It discusses when the term bieji first appeared, and what the early collections were; how a literary collection was constituted, circulated, transmitted, and reconstituted; what genres a literary collection might include, and more important, exclude; and in what ways a bieji is important to a historicized understanding of what constituted “literature” in the Middle Period. The coda briefly discusses the rebuilding of the lost and scattered medieval literary collections and the proliferation of specialized collections in the Song and beyond.

Keywords: literary collection (bieji), “little collection/selected works” (xiaoji), specialized collection, prose genres, wen

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