The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons is the first comprehensive work of literary criticism in Chinese, and one that has been considered essential reading for writers and scholars since it was written some 1,500 years ago. A vast compendium of all that was known about Chinese literature at the time, it is simultaneously a taxonomy and history of genres and styles and a manual for good writing. Its chapters, organized according to the I Ching, cover such topics as “Choice of Style,” “Emotion and Literary Expression,” “Humor and Enigma,” “Spiritual Thought or Imagination,” “The Nourishing of Vitality,” and “Literary Flaws.”
“Mind” is the ideas, impressions, and emotions that take form—the “carving of the dragon”—in a literary work. Full of examples and delightful anecdotes drawn from Liu Hsieh’s encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese literature, readers will discover distinctive concepts and standards of the art of writing that are both alien and familiar. The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons is not only a summa of classical Chinese literary aesthetics but also a wellspring of advice from the distant past on how to write.