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Abstract

The claim that the eight-legged essay was epitomized in the Ming dynasty was solidified by scholars of the Ming and Qing dynasties with the belief that each generation had an exemplary genre since the Yuan dynasty. The claim was constructed from four dimensions of the three relationships between writing and,respectively,societal politics,scholar's vitality,and tradition of adhering to the classics and doctrines,as well as generic transformation and its value. The value of the eight-legged essay in the Ming dynasty had also been criticized in the above mentioned four dimensions by the Ming and Qing dynasty scholars.However,the criticism did not undermine the meaning of the claim about the epitomized status of eight-legged essay in the Ming dynasty,because of the endorsement of imperial examination and the old literary evaluation framework. Some ideas from the criticism were nevertheless picked up by the critics in late Qing dynasty and early Republic of China,who,against thebackground of the abolition of the imperial examinations,the transformation of literary concept and the change in the paradigm of literary research,the claim that eight-legged essay was epitomized in the Ming dynasty was entirely undermined when literary history was being reconstructed.

Keywords

eight-legged essay, imperial examination, the concept of literature, view of literary history

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