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On Ethics and HistoryEssays and Letters of Zhang Xuecheng$
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Philip J. Ivanhoe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804761284

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804761284.001.0001

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Virtue in a Litterateur

Virtue in a Litterateur

(p.82) Essay 9 Virtue in a Litterateur
On Ethics and History
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents the English translation of Zhang's essay offering a complement of sorts to the similarly titled “Virtue in an Historian.”. In this work, Zhang is concerned with the more subjective qualities that those who specialize in literature must cultivate in order to be true to their chosen vocation. Zhang offers advice that applies to the litterateur as both critic of other writers and author of his or her own works. In either case, in order to perform well the aspiring litterateur must engage in a form of moral self-cultivation. One must be a certain kind of person in order to produce the ideal kind of writing. Zhang counsels the aspiring litterateur to cultivate an attitude of reverential attention, a state of mind in which the spirited aspects of one's nature—one's qi—are collected and controlled. By combining sympathetic concern and reverential attention, the litterateur can be emotionally engaged but not overwhelmed or disoriented by his feelings.

Keywords:   Zhang Xuecheng, essay, literature, moral self-cultivation, reverential attention, qi

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