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Form and the fissures : the
Authors Yan, Ka Wai (殷嘉慧)
Issue Date 1996
Summary The eight-legged essay is a prescribed form of composition for the civil service examinations used in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The topic of an eight-legged essay is normally a quotation taken from the Four Books and the Five Classics. Candidates were expected "to speak in the voice of the sages ": that is, they should not only follow Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi's exegeses in their exposition of the quotation, but also imitate the tone of the sages. Moreover, candidates should also write in a prescribed form. Owing to these restrictions, the eight-legged essay has been accused of restricting people's thought. However, fissures do exist in the eight-legged essay, as my thesis argues, in which candidates could exhibit their own personality or express their own ideas. Chapter one gives an overall review of Ming and Qing civil service examination systems, in which the eight-legged essay is practised. Chapter two is a descriptive account of the form and structure of the eight-legged essay. In Chapter three, several examples are analysed to illustrate that in poti, chengti, qijiang, chuti and guojie, sections which are used to expound the meaning of the topic, some ideas deviant from those of the standard exegeses are found. Therefore, in the strictly-structured eight-legged essay, fissures are explored by candidates for the expression of their own thoughts. In Chapter four, I have taken account of some late Ming phenomena, in order to prove the existence of fissures in the eight-legged essay. Lastly, I attempt to offer explanations for the appearance of the fissures from a theoretical stand.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 1996
Language Chinese
Format Thesis
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