Chinese literature Earliest literary texts date from the Zhou dynasty (c.1030–221 bc). This period produced the canonical writings of Confucianism: the Five Classics, including the first poetry anthology Shih ching (Classic of Odes); and the Four Books, containing doctrinal writings, such as The Book of Mencius. Traditionally attributed to Confucius, the Shih ching is probably earlier still. In this era, Lao Tzu is credited with founding Taoism. During the Han dynasty (202 bc–ad 220), elaborate fu prose poems which praised the dynasty flourished. The T'ang dynasty (618–907) marked the golden age of Chinese literature. Li Po, Tu Fu and Wang Wei were the outstanding poets of the period. In the Sung dynasty (960–1279), the novel (often historical) and drama (stressing conflicts such as filial versus national loyalty) came into being. From the late 17th to early 19th century, much emphasis was placed on formal technique; no one form gained ascendancy and much literary in-fighting took place. Ts'ao Chan produced the most memorable work of the period, the novel Dream of the Red Chamber. The lyric poem has been the dominant form in Chinese literature. It is normally philosophical, with a quietness of tone and an emphasis on simple, routine experiences. In the first half of the 20th century, Chinese literature became greatly modernized, with the new Chinese republic striving to formulate a new, politicized literary language to reflect its doctrine. During the Cultural Revolution, strict censorship was imposed. Recent years have seen a slight liberalization.
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