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Shishuo Xinyu shows Eastern sense of humor

| 2017-11-27
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Compiled and edited by Liu Yiqing during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589), the book A New Account of the Tales of the World (Shishuo Xinyu) contains some 1,130 historical anecdotes and character sketches of some 600 literati, musicians, and painters who lived in the Han and Wei–Jin periods. The first International Symposium on A New Account of the Tales of the World was recently held in Henan Province. Xiao Hong, a professor of Chinese literature from the University of Sydney in Australia, made comparative studies on the narrative techniques of humor between Chinese and Western literature. Unlike the malicious verbal attacks used by British sarcastic poets in the 18th century, the language used in Shishuo Xinyu was never so mean, nor was there any sarcastic discrimination against ordinary people or the weak, Xiao said. The humor was disseminated among the circle of the literati, which reflected the sense of humor of the literati community in the ancient East, Xiao said.