The “Guji liezhuan” 滑稽列傳, found at the chapter 126 of Sima Qian 司馬遷’s (c. 145–c. 90 BC) Shiji 史記, in modern times has been considered the starting point to discuss the topic of “humour” in ancient China (Chen Wenxin), and the word guji 滑稽sometimes has been translated as “humorist” (Knechtges), someone who entertains by making people laugh. At the same time, this chapter has also been considered an historical source to analyse the figure of the court jester (Feng Yuanjun, Wang Guowei); however, the Great Historian constructed the anecdotes in a way in which the focal point of the stories had to be identified in the speeches of the characters presented. Those speeches, performed by low class individuals (mostly jesters), were linked by the author to the Six Disciplines (Liuyi 六藝) as they were conceived as important for the government of the state, and they can be classified as examples of indirect remonstrance (fengjian 諷諫) (Schaberg). The crucial point and what makes this chapter peculiar is that the remonstrances pronounced by the characters are expressed in a “humorous” way, which means they make the addressee of the rhetorical discourse laugh. This quality is identified by the word guji, then an adjective, in the title of the chapter. My paper aims to stress how Sima Qian made the term guji meaningful (a feature already pointed out by Timoteus Pokora) constructing anecdotes in which the protagonists express their issues in an entertaining way of speech and behaviour; so as to say, “humorous” here is a rhetorical quality of their speeches. My aim is also to point out that term guji so understood is peculiar only to the part supposedly written by Sima Qian. In fact, Chu Shaosun褚少孫 (c. 105–c. 30 BC), the only contributor to the Shiji who reveals himself, adding some anecdotes at the end of the chapter, understood guji more as an “humorous”-entertaining features of the characters and stories.

The Shiji chapter "Guji liezhuan" (Traditions of Witty Remonstrants): A Source to Look for Rhetorical Strategiesinn Early China

BACCINI, GIULIA
2015

Abstract

The “Guji liezhuan” 滑稽列傳, found at the chapter 126 of Sima Qian 司馬遷’s (c. 145–c. 90 BC) Shiji 史記, in modern times has been considered the starting point to discuss the topic of “humour” in ancient China (Chen Wenxin), and the word guji 滑稽sometimes has been translated as “humorist” (Knechtges), someone who entertains by making people laugh. At the same time, this chapter has also been considered an historical source to analyse the figure of the court jester (Feng Yuanjun, Wang Guowei); however, the Great Historian constructed the anecdotes in a way in which the focal point of the stories had to be identified in the speeches of the characters presented. Those speeches, performed by low class individuals (mostly jesters), were linked by the author to the Six Disciplines (Liuyi 六藝) as they were conceived as important for the government of the state, and they can be classified as examples of indirect remonstrance (fengjian 諷諫) (Schaberg). The crucial point and what makes this chapter peculiar is that the remonstrances pronounced by the characters are expressed in a “humorous” way, which means they make the addressee of the rhetorical discourse laugh. This quality is identified by the word guji, then an adjective, in the title of the chapter. My paper aims to stress how Sima Qian made the term guji meaningful (a feature already pointed out by Timoteus Pokora) constructing anecdotes in which the protagonists express their issues in an entertaining way of speech and behaviour; so as to say, “humorous” here is a rhetorical quality of their speeches. My aim is also to point out that term guji so understood is peculiar only to the part supposedly written by Sima Qian. In fact, Chu Shaosun褚少孫 (c. 105–c. 30 BC), the only contributor to the Shiji who reveals himself, adding some anecdotes at the end of the chapter, understood guji more as an “humorous”-entertaining features of the characters and stories.
Views from Within, Views from Beyond: Approachesto the Shiji as an Early Work of Historiography
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Lunwen_Shiji v.pdf

accesso aperto

Descrizione: Articolo principale
Tipologia: Documento in Post-print
Licenza: Accesso chiuso-personale
Dimensione 7.79 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
7.79 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in ARCA sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3683413
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact