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Chinese Literature
Anthologies category and "Belles-lettres" (jibu 集部)

The category of belles-lettres (jibu 集部) is the last of the four traditional categories (sibu 四部) into which Chinese literature was divided. It includes collected writings of one person (bieji 別集), as well as collections of literary types or anthologies of writings from one period of time (zongji 總集). The last section in this category is literary critique. The belles-lettres category generally includes all writings composed on a personal base covering the private sphere, like letters, but also types of literature written for entertainment and leasure-time, like poems or theatre plays. The compilers of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 divided the category of belles-lettres into the sections Poetry of the South (Chuci 楚辭), collected writings of individual authors (bieji), anthologies and collections (zongji), literary critique (shiwenping 詩文評), and arias (ciqu 詞曲). In the jibu category, the Siku quanshu assembles 1,281 writings, which makes it the largest category among the four.

楚辭 Chuci Poetry of the South
別集 Bieji Individual belles-lettres
總集 Zongji Collective belles-lettres
詩文評 Shiwenping Critique on poetry and prose
詞曲 Ciqu Songs and arias
叢書 * Congshu Collectanea

* The category of collectanea is not part of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

July 10, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail