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An Introduction to Literary Chinese

An Introduction to Literary Chinese

Second Edition

Michael A. Fuller

ISBN 9780674295858

Publication date: 05/07/2024

The second edition of An Introduction to Literary Chinese incorporates recent developments in linguistics and has been expanded to include a lesson on Buddhist texts. Beginning with an overview of literary Chinese—its phonology, morphology, and syntax, as well as a short account of the nature of the writing system—the textbook then presents thirty-six lessons of increasing difficulty designed to introduce students to the basic patterns of the language and give them practice in reading a variety of texts.

Part I presents eight lessons on the basic syntactic components in literary Chinese. Each lesson begins with an overview of its topic, introduces an exemplary text, and provides a glossary, notes, and practice exercises. The sixteen lessons in Part II use increasingly long and complex texts to introduce styles of narrative and argumentation in literary Chinese and, at the same time, solidify students’ grasp of the syntax. The advanced texts in the six lessons in Part III introduce students to central authors and philosophical traditions in premodern China and broaden the process of reading to include elements of cultural and historical interpretation. Part IV has six lessons comprising important Tang and Song dynasty prose and poetic texts.


  • Michael A. Fuller is Professor of Classical Chinese Literature and Thought, Emeritus, at the University of California, Irvine.

Book Details

  • 310 pages
  • 8-1/2 x 11 inches
  • Harvard University Asia Center

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