Volume TOCs and Authors7 min read

How to Read Chinese Literature


The How to Read Chinese Literature series is an innovative collection of literary anthologies and language texts covering the entire field of Chinese literature. The series will consist of ten volumes: five guided literary anthologies, one book on literary culture, and four language texts. Usable as both stand-alone volumes and a coherent set, the ten books break down barriers between the study of literature and language learning. By joining language acquisition with teaching students how to appreciate Chinese literature in its original form, the series seeks to transform learning and teaching of Chinese literature, language, and culture in the English-speaking world.


Zong-qi Cai, general editor
Yuan Xingpei, editorial board director

Columbia University Press


1. How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (2008)
Edited by Zong-qi Cai


1. Tetrasyllabic Shi Poetry: The Book of Poetry (Shijing)

   William H. Nienhauser Jr. (University of Wisconsin)


2. Sao Poetry: The Lyrics of Chu (Chuci)

   Fusheng Wu (University of Utah)


3. Fu Poetry: An Ancient-Style Rhapsody (Gufu)

   David R. Knechtges (University of Washington)


4. Shi Poetry: Music Bureau Poems (Yuefu)

   Jui-Lung Su (National University of Singapore)


5. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: The “Nineteen Old Poems”

   Zong-Qi Cai (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


6. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: Landscape and Farmstead Poems

   Wendy Swartz (Columbia University)


7. Pentasyllabic Shi Poetry: New Topics

   Xiaofei Tian (Harvard University)


8. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Pentasyllabic Regulated Verse (Wuyan Lüshi)

    Zong-Qi Cai


9. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Heptasyllabic Regulated Verse (Qiyan Lüshi )

   Robert Ashmore (University of California, Berkeley)


10. Recent-Style Shi Poetry: Quatrains (Jueju)

     Charles Egan (San Francisco State University)


11. Ancient-Style Shi Poetry: Continuation and Changes

    Paula Varsano (University of California, Berkeley)


12. Ci Poetry: Short Song Lyrics (Xiaoling)

    Maija Bell Samei (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


13. Ci Poetry: Long Song Lyrics (Manci)

     Xinda Lian (Denison University)


14. Ci Poetry: Long Song Lyrics on Objects (Yongwu Ci)

     Shuen-Fu Lin (University of Michigan)


15. Shi Poetry: Ancient and Recent Styles

     Ronald Egan (University of California, Santa Barbara)


16. Qu Poetry: Song Poems (Sanqu) of the Yuan Dynasty

     Xinda Lian


17. Shi Poetry of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

    Grace S. Fong (McGill University)


18. A Synthesis: Rhythm, Syntax, and Vision of Chinese Poetry

    Zong-Qi Cai



2. How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook (2012)
By Jie Cui and Zong-qi Cai


1. 爱情:君子情思 Love: The Voice of Men


2. 爱情:闺妇情语 Love: The Voice of Women


3. 田园 Fields and Gardens


4. 游览 Landscape: Excursions


5. 山水大观 Landscape: Grand Scenes


6. 山水禅境 Landscape: Chan (Zen) Vision


7. 山水速写 Landscape: Random Sketches


8. 山水理趣 Landscape: A Source of Wisdom


9. 送别 Parting


10. 羁旅 Sojourns of the Wandering Men


11. 边塞与战争 Frontiers and Wars


12. 思乡Homesickness


13. 闺怨 Plaints of Young Women (I)


14. 闺怨 Plaints of Young Women (II)


15. 宫怨 Plaints of Palace Ladies


16. 咏物 Depiction of Things: Sensuous, Allegorical, and Personified


17. 咏史: 名人 Meditation on History: Famous People


18. 咏史: 王朝兴衰 Meditation on History: Rise and Fall of Dynasties


19. 咏怀:感物而发 Reflection: In Response to Scenes and Events


20. 咏怀:往事回忆 Reflection: Remembering Things Past



3. How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context: Poetic Culture from Antiquity through the Tang (2018)
Edited by Zong-qi Cai


1. Poetry and Diplomacy in the Zuo Tradition (Zuozhuan)

   Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)


2. Poetry and Authorship: The Songs of Chu (Chuci)

   Stephen Owen (Harvard University)


3. Empire in Text: Sima Xiangru’s “Sir Vacuous/Imperial Park Rhapsody” (“Zixu/Shanglin fu”)

    Yu-Yu Cheng (National Taiwan University)

   Gregory Patterson (University of South Carolina)


4. Poetry and Ideology: The Canonization of the Book of Poetry (Shijing) during the Han

    Zong-Qi Cai (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


5. Love beyond the Grave: A Tragic Tale of Love and Marriage in Han China

   Olga Lomová (Charles University)


6. Heroes from Chaotic Times: The Three Caos

   Xinda Lian (Denison University)


7. The Worthies of the Bamboo Grove

   Nanxiu Qian (Rice University)


8. The Poetry of Reclusion: Tao Qian

   Alan Berkowitz (Swarthmore College)


9. The Struggling Buddhist Mind: Shen Yue

   Meow Hui Goh (the Ohio State University)


10. Knight-Errantry: Tang Frontier Poems

    Tsung-Cheng Lin (University of Victoria)


11. Tang Civil Service Examinations

    Manling Luo (Indiana University, Bloomington)


12. Tang Women at the Public/Private Divide

     Maija Bell Samei (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


13. Poetry and Buddhist Enlightenment: Wang Wei and Han Shan

    Chen Yinchi (Fudan University)

    Jing Chen (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


14. Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon: Li Bai and the Poetics of Wine

     Paula Varsano (University of California, Berkeley)


15. Du Fu: The Poet as Historian

    Jack W. Chen (University of California, Los Angeles)


16. Poetry and Literati Friendship: Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen

    Ao Wang (Wesleyan University)


17. Li He: Poetry as Obsession

    Robert Ashmore (University of California, Berkeley)



4. How to Read Chinese Drama: A Guided Anthology (under preparation)
Edited by Patricia Sieber and Regina Llama


Titles subject to change

1. The Story of the Western Wing: Tale, Ballad, and Play

   Wilt L. Idema (Emeritus, Harvard University)


2. The Story of the Western Wing: Theater and the Printed Image

   Patricia Sieber (The Ohio State University)

   Gillian Zhang (The Ohio State University)


3. The Injustice to Dou E: Marriage, Filial Piety, and Courage

   Patricia Sieber (The Ohio State University)


4. The Purple Court Pavilion, The Wrong Career, and The Tiger Head Plaque: The Jurchen Plays

   Stephen H. West (Arizona State University)


5. The Orphan of Zhao: Loyalty, Self-Sacrifice, and Revenge

   Shih-pe Wang (National Taiwan University)


6. Top Graduate and The Lute: Scholar, Family, and State

   Regina Llamas (IE Universidad)


7. The Story of Hua Guansuo: Chantefable and Ritual Plays

  Anne McLaren (University of Melbourne)


8. Mulian Rescues His Mother: Play Structure, Ritual, and Soundscapes

   Sai-shing Yung (National Singapore University)


9. Mulan: Crossdressing and Gender Performance

   Shiamin Kwa (Bryn Mawr College)


11. The Peony Pavilion: Emotions, Dreams, and Spectatorship

    Ling Hon Lam (University of California, Berkeley)


12. The Green Peony and The Swallow’s Letter: Drama and Politics

     Ying Zhang (The Ohio State University)


13. A Much-Desired Match: Playwriting, Stagecraft, and Entrepreneurship

     S.E. Kile (University of Michigan)


14. The Peach Blossom Fan and The Palace of Everlasting Life: Theater and History

     Mengjun Li (University of Puget Sound)

     Guo Yingde (Beijing Normal University)


15. Song of Dragon Well Tea and Other Court Plays: Spectacle and Panegyrics

     Tian Yuan Tan (School of Oriental and African Studies)


16. The Eight-Court Rosary: Performance Scripts and Theatrical Culture

     Andrea Goldman (University of California, Los Angeles)


5. How to Read Chinese Drama: A Language Text (under preparation)
By Guo Yingde and Patricia Sieber



6. How to Read Chinese Fiction: A Guided Anthology (under preparation)
Edited by Wei Shang


Titles subject to change

1. The Tales of the Strange in the Six Dynasties

  Pengfei Li (Beijing University)

  Linda Feng (University of Toronto)


2. Tang Tales

   Linda Feng (University of Toronto)


3. Early Vernacular Stories

   Wei Shang (Columbia University)


4. Romance of the Three Kingdoms

   Paize Keulemans (Princeton University)


5. The Journey to the West

   Qiancheng Li (Louisiana State University)


6. Outlaws of the Marsh

  Margaret Wan (University of Utah)


7. The Plum in the Golden Vase

   Sophie Volpp (UC Berkeley)


8. The Vernacular Stories of the Late Ming (San yan and Liang Pai)

   Yongqiang Liu (Beijing University)

   Sarah Kile (University of Michigan)


9. The Vernacular Stories of the Early Qing (Li Yu)

   Sarah Kile


10. The Tales of the Strange in the Early Qing

     Allan Barr (Pomona College)


11. The Unofficial History of the Scholars

    Wei Shang (Columbia University)


12. The Story of the Stone

     Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)



7. How to Read Chinese Fiction: A Language Text (under preparation)
By Pan Jianguo and Shang Wei



8. How to Read Chinese Prose: A Guided Anthology (under preparation)
By Zong-qi Cai


Titles subject to change
1. Pre-Qin Historical Writings: the Zuozhuan

  Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)


2. Recorded Conversations and Argumentative Essays: The Confucians

   Scott Bradley Cook (National University of Singapore)


3. Selections from Mozi, Hanfeizi, and Sunzi

   Paul Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)


4. Philosophical Essays: Zhuangzi

   Shuen-fu Lin (University of Michigan)


5. Han Historical Writings: The Grand Scribe’s Records

   William H. Nienhauser Jr. (University of Wisconsin)


6. Han-Wei Epistolary Writings: Formal and Personal

   Liu Yucai (Peking University)


7. Brief Records and Character Sketches: New Accounts of the Tales of the World

   Xinda Lian (Denison University)


8. Six Dynasty Parallel Prose

   Zong-qi Cai (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


9. Tang-Song Argumentative Essays

   Alexei Ditter (Reed College)


10. Tang-Song Accounts of Travels and Sites

     Ronald Egan (Stanford University)


11. Tang-Song Biographies: Real and Fictional

    Yugen Wang (University of Oregon)


12. Tang-Song Occasional Essays and Epistolary Writings

    Anna Shields (Princeton University)


13. Ming-Qing Occasional Essays

     Yunte Huang (University of California at Santa Barbara)


14. Ming-Qing Epistolary and Funerary Writings

    Rivi Handler-Spitz (Macalester College)


15. Eight-Legged Essays

    Manling Luo (Indiana University)



9. How to Read Chinese Prose: A Language Text (under preparation)
By Cui Jie, Liu Yucai and Zong-qi Cai



10. How to Read Chinese Literary Theory (under preparation)
By Zong-qi Cai