The Boxue Hongci 博學宏詞 Examinations, Literary Anthologies by Emperors and the Literary Circles during the Kangxi and Qianlong Periods

in Ming Qing Yanjiu
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As a result of political demands and imperial cultural cultivation, the Qing Dynasty reigns of Kangxi (1661–1722) and Qianlong (1736–1796) both paid great attention to the traditional Han culture. During these periods, there were two landmark events that embodied the success of their cultural policy. These were the special examinations of boxue hongci (“breadth in learning and vastness in letters”, also called boxue hongru) in 1679 and 1736, and the publishing of numerous literary anthologies by the emperors. However, scholarly discussions have often focused mainly on aspects of political and cultural domination, and have rarely discussed the impact of these two events on literary circles in the early and middle Qing Dynasty. Thus, this paper examines the boxue hongci examination and the literary anthologies by Emperors as literary events and evaluate them from three perspectives. First, with regards to literary purposes, these two events fostered the link between official and elite discourses. Second, with regards to literary styles, these two events together facilitated the emergence at the height of the Qing Dynasty styles known as qingzhen yazheng (“purity, authenticity, elegance and correctness”) and wenrou dunhou (“gentleness and restraint”). Third, with regards to literary layout, the two events changed the proportion of writers’ identity and actively advanced the balance of the north and south literary circles.

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    Yong Rong 1960: 1728.

  • 15

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    See Pan Wuzheng 2008.

  • 17

    Liang Qichao 2013: 18.

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    Yang Haiying 1996: 97–99.

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