Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(2,269 words)

1. Definitions

China has a long essayistic tradition. A definition of the term proves difficult, however, since the Chinese essay is perhaps even more chameleon-like than its Western equivalent, both in terms of content and form. There are numerous words for "essay" in the Chinese language. The most common expression is sanwen. The term, however, not only means "essay," but also "free prose" as opposed to rhymed poetry or parallel prose (pianwe…

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Motsch, Monika, “Essay”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 01 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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