Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Popular Literature
(2,494 words)

In Chinese literary studies, the Chinese words for folk or popular literature (suwenxue, tongsu wenxue, minjian wenxue, qunzhong wenxue) encompass all areas which are not part of the orthodox literary canon. This includes the oral tradition of popular myths, stories of saints and miracles, songs, poems, riddles, as well as the prose literature of later periods. They served the readers' edification and entertainment. This differentiation from pure literature (chun wenxue, ya wenxue) has been subject to numerous re-definitions throughout the 20th century. These re-de…

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Cremerius, Ruth, “Popular Literature”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 01 February 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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