With a history of over 3,000 years, Chinese literature possesses great importance in China's civilization. The nature of written language has significant effects on literature, together with the use of Chinese characters. Unlike groups of letters, Chinese character could be read by people in parts of China despite of existing of other dialects and changes in pronunciation.
As a matter of fact, Chinese literature is precious cultural heritage that accumulating the spirit, psychology, character and wisdom of many outstanding scholars and the masses from dynasty to dynasty. It combined of many forms, poem, essay, novel, drama, lyrics, and folk of tales and so on; each reflecting the historical social, contained profound connotations and special taste and values. Chinese literature could be divided into three types by chronology:
Classic Literature Period refers to the period from over three thousand years ago to late Qing Dynasty (in year of 1911). In this period, Tang poem, Song Lyrics, Yuan Drama and Ming & Qing novel are the most prospective in literature history. The great feature of this period is that all the works were written in ancient Chinese, which is different from that of today. Due to the government implementation and requirements for the official exams, the ancient Chinese went far away with oral language, resulting at many difficulties to understand for today's Chinese people.
Modern Literature Period refers to period from 1840 (Opium War) to 1911. Traditional genres of literature like poem, lyrics and so on followed the old style and had no new ideas, keeping unchanged; while western works and foreign thoughts impact too much on literature, more and more Chinese people pay attention to social realities, and their works feature with normal styles and language, revealing social problems and changes.
Contemporary Literature Period refers to the period from 1919 to now. Big historical changes occurred from 1911-1949. At this period, along with new cultural movement, Chinese literature accepted the wide-spread impact of world literature, formed a revised and modern literature language, which has different point of view, narrative, structure when compared with classical literature. New literature language is called Vernacular, easier to understand and read for common people.
Another logjam appeared after liberation, due to the Cultural Revolution lasting nearly 10 years. But since the reform and opening, Chinese literature entered to a new ear, works now all reflects its prospect, with all the Chinese nationalities all contribute to this.
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