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The book is a literary study of one of the greatest of Chinese writers, Ou-yang Hsiu. He was a major writer in each of several genres: prose, poetry, rhapsodies, and tz'u 'songs'. The striking diversity of his work presents an opportunity to investigate how one man's literary talent is manifested in different genres. Ou-yang Hsiu's achievements in each genre are examined, and set in the context of his age. Topics include the broad shift between T'ang and Sung dynasty prose styles that Ou-yang Hsiu helped to effect, his contributions to the new poetic values of the Northern Sung, and his place in the evolution of Sung dynasty songs (together with a reconsideration of a group of supposedly spurious songs). An appendix provides additional translations of Ou-yang Hsiu's prose.
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