Biji (Chinese literature)
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Biji (Chinese: 筆記) is a genre in classical Chinese literature. It roughly translates "notebook". A book of biji can contain anecdotes, quotations, random musings, philological speculations, literary criticism and indeed everything that the author deems worth recording. The genre first appeared during the Wei and Jin dynasties, and matured during the Tang Dynasty. The biji of that period of time mostly contains the believe-it-or-not kind of anecdotes, and many of them can be treated as collections of short fictions. To differentiate this kind of "biji fiction" from the general biji, the former is later called "biji xiaoshuo" (筆記小說 "notebook fictions"). Biji flourished during the Song Dynasty, and continued to flourish during the later dynasties.
Famous works of biji include:
- Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang (酉陽雜俎), by Duan Chengshi, Tang Dynasty
- Notebooks from the Mengxi Garden (夢溪筆談) by Shen Kua, Song Dynasty
- Notebooks from the Rong Study (容齋隨筆) by Hong Mai, Song Dynasty
- Little Notes on the Nature of Things (物理小識) by Fang Yizhi, Ming Dynasty
In general, the Chinese language has retained a very similar language to the one used before with gradual changes. Not even the non-Han Chinese ethnic groups from the other side of the Great Wall succeeded in changing the language. They were forced to embody the Chinese language since they had none of their own. The earliest forms of Chinese literature known today is the practice of divination during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE). There were drawings created on Oracle bones known as Jiaguwen. This illustrious nature has formed Chinese literature today. Chinese literature especially poetry purports to make both be visually appeassing
Ronald Egan 'Introduction' in Qian Zhongshu Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters Harvard University Press, 1998 Ronald Egan trans.
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