The problem of xiao-pin-wen essays as a literary genre is discussed in Pollard’s article on Chou’s writing. The point is that the period of Chou’s writing and the choices the author made in regards to the literary columns were characterized by prose pieces and defined as random thoughts. It was necessary to consider a good essay’s main qualifications and describe them in a clear and informative way. Chou’s problem is the possibility to discuss the peculiar features of writing and the inability to give a clear name to the chosen term. Therefore, Pollard addresses the descriptions given by Lafcadio Hearn, Kuriyagawa Hakuson, and Hu Meng-Hua.
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The essay type introduced by Hearn was called the “sketch” and supported by the facts that the novel as the literary was dead promoting other forms of prose.1 According to Hearn, the sketch is the prose form that aims at creating a picture of real life. Kuriyagawa Hakuson offered the second explanation of an essay and provided this term with such characteristics as “sarcasm and arresting phrases” so that the author of an essay could express their individuality using rich and colorful words.2 Finally, there is an opinion of Hu Meng-Hua, who discussed the essay as the combination of such characteristics as irregularity and informality.
All three descriptions have many things in common. Still, Chou was mature enough to make the most effective and powerful aspects and develop the definition of an essay introducing it as a kind of a poem in prose with certain characteristics of the linguistic aspect and the use of words, which depict the importance of personal experiences, opinions, and reflections on the events.
Travel writings of modern Chinese Writers
Modern Chinese writers pay much attention to such topics as the essence of life, the importance of understanding the landscapes of culture and life, and the necessity to never forget about the worth of travels and writing during traveling as one of the best forms to share personal experiences and thoughts. Every writer demonstrates their approach to understanding travel writing and the essence of the philosophy of travel. In this essay, the opinions of six different authors will be analyzed to interpret the term “travel writing,” compare different approaches, and develop one powerful idea on travel writing as the opportunity to observe life through the landscapes and movement.
In “The Enjoyment of Travel,” Yutang explains travel as the pleasure available to everyone. Besides, travel could become an industry supported by the government in a short period.3 Many different methods could be used to interpret travel writing, and Yutang offers to rely on the opinion developed by the Chinese dramatic critic, Chin Shengt’an, that any traveler has to be ready to take “a special talent in his breast and a special vision below his eyebrows”.4 What is required is to comprehend what this special talent means. Yutang, as well as Shengt’an, consider travel writing as the possibility to express personal thoughts and opinions on different things. These writers introduce the philosophy of travel as the capacity to see things and abolish distinctions while traveling. In other words, every person can write about travel and change the environment they have to live in.
Many authors compare travels with a powerful combination of pleasure and leisure. For example, in Yuchun’s essays “On the Road” and “The Priceless Moments of a Spring Morn,” it is possible to observe the author’s attitudes towards travel and leisure. First, the author frequently uses the pronoun “I” to underline that the writings’ center is a person, their emotions, and feelings. Though traveling is at the core of the story, it should be defined as a person’s method to achieve the required benefits and satisfaction. “When I was a child,” “When I was at university,” “Once I spent my New Year holidays at a relative’s home5 – every paragraph begins with a new place that proves the importance of movement in human life and the author’s beauty of leisure. Traveling is leisure. It is the opportunity all people may have “in the midst of… rushing and scurrying to get a good eyeful of life in its true colors”.6 It is a kind of temporary salvation within the frames where everyone could re-load their minds and start a new page with new impressions and attitudes towards the same things.
Such essays as “Splashing Oars and Lantern Light on the Qinhuai River” by Ziqing and Pingbo or “Qinquiang” by Pinwa also help discover a new way of writing about travel. Though these authors do not aim to describe travel philosophy, they try to introduce movement as an integral part of traveling that could enrich human life and promote changes. Talking about Shaanxi opera’s peculiarities, certain attention is paid to the role of the environment, atmosphere, and the kind of place chosen for a particular auditory.7 Talking about the river, the authors explain their repressed feelings and fears of being cheated,8 as well as the inevitability of personal changes during traveling even if the environment remains to be the same.9 All these sources help comprehend the essence of travel and the importance of travel writing to promote self-improvement using the available environment.
Pingbo, Yu. “Splashing Oars and Lantern Light on the Qinhuai River.”
Pinwa, Jia. “Qinqiang.”
Pollard, David E. “The Essay.”
Yuchun, Liang. “On the Road.”
Yuchun, Liang. “The Priceless Moments of a Spring Morn: Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.”
Yutang, Lin. “The Enjoyment of Travel.”
Ziqing, Zhu. “Splashing Oars and Lantern Light on the Qinhuai River.”
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- David E. Pollard, “The Essay,” 116.
- Ibid., 117.
- Yutang, Lin, “The Enjoyment of Travel,” 331.
- Ibid., 336.
- ” Liang Yuchun, “The Priceless Moments of a Spring Morn: Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow,” 648.
- Liang Yuchun, “On the Road,” 242.
- Jia Pinwa, “Qinqiang,” 154.
- Zhu Ziqing, “Splashing Oars and Lantern Light on the Qinhuai River,” 178.
- Yu Pingbo, “Splashing Oars and Lantern Light on the Qinhuai River,” 166.