Hui ChenFollow


In solidifying the scholarly framework of “the learning of scholar-officials”, Zeng Guofan, inspired by the cosmological insights of the “Xici” (the chapters explaining the principles of The Book of Changes) and the dialectical perspective of Zhang Zai, drew upon Han Yu's discourse of the “complementary use of Confucianism and Mohism” to formulate his own theory of “complementary use of odd and even prose”. This theory, distinguishing itself from mid-Qing narratives on the interplay of prose styles, posits odd prose as foundational, to be harmoniously integrated with even prose. This approach evaluates prose through the lens of qi dynamics and divine governance, re-establishing Han Yu's ancient prose as a bridge in academic diversification and as a paradigm in stylistic evolution. Furthermore, Zeng's theory expands upon Yao Nai's dichotomy of prose into yin and yang, aiming to rectify the biases of overt masculinity, thereby neglecting feminine subtlety in literal works of Tongcheng. By adopting Han Yu's ideal of returning to the classical virtues and embracing broad scholarly knowledge, Zeng Guofan's acceptance of the controversial “complementary use of Confucianism and Mohism” underscores his commitment to rejuvenating the ethos of self-improvement, societal education, and pragmatic application during the late Qing transformation.


Zeng Guofan, late Qing dynasty, learning of scholar-officials, the thought of unity of parallel and prose, Han Yu.