David R. Knechtges

David Richard Knechtges (/kəˈnɛktəs/; born October 23, 1942) is an American Sinologist and scholar, and a professor emeritus of Chinese literature at the University of Washington. An expert on Han dynasty and Six dynasties period literature, Knechtges' studies of Chinese fu poetry are largely responsible for the revival of Western academic interest in the subject, a major genre which had become largely neglected until the mid-20th century.

Knechtges is best known for his ongoing translation of the early Chinese literary anthology Selections of Refined Literature (Wen xuan), its first ever full translation into English.

David R. Knechtges
David R. Knechtges 2011
BornOctober 23, 1942 (age 76)
Alma materUniversity of Washington
Harvard University
Scientific career
FieldsFu, Han Dynasty and Six Dynasties literature
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
Yale University
Harvard University
Doctoral advisorHellmut Wilhelm
Other academic advisorsJames Robert Hightower
K. C. Hsiao
Li Fang-Kuei
Notable studentsRobert Joe Cutter
Stephen Owen
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese康達維
Simplified Chinese康达维

Life and career

David Knechtges was born on October 23, 1942, in Great Falls, Montana, and grew up in Kirkland, Washington. Knechtges attended Lake Washington High School, and originally intended to study biology or chemistry. However, while in high school he happened to attend a presentation given at his school by the German Sinologist Hellmut Wilhelm on two well-known China-related novels the students had been assigned to read: The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, and Rickshaw Boy by Lao She.[1] He was fascinated and impressed by Wilhelm's knowledge and presentation, and soon decided to change his academic focus to Chinese history, language, and literature.[1]

After graduating from high school in 1960, Knechtges matriculated at the University of Washington and majored in Chinese, graduating in 1964 with a B.A. magna cum laude. Having decided to pursue graduate study in Chinese, he first went to Harvard University, and received an A.M. in 1965. He then returned to the University of Washington for doctoral studies under Wilhelm, and received a Ph.D. in 1968 with a dissertation entitled "Yang Shyong, the Fuh, and Hann Rhetoric", a study of the fu rhapsodies of Han dynasty writer and scholar Yang Xiong. After receiving his Ph.D., Knechtges taught at Harvard and then Yale University for several years before joining Washington's Asian Languages and Literature faculty in 1972. He taught at Washington for 42 years before retiring in 2014.[2]

Knechtges has written or edited a number of books on ancient Chinese literature, and is best known for his ongoing translation of the Wen xuan (Selections of Refined Literature), a major collection of early Chinese literature, which is the work's first ever full translation into English. His wife, Tai-ping Chang Knechtges, is an affiliate assistant professor at Washington, and often serves as Knechtges' co-editor. They have one daughter together.

Knechtges was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. In 2014, the Chinese government awarded Knechtges the 8th China Book Award for his contributions to Chinese literary scholarship, especially his editing and translation of The Cambridge History of Chinese Civilisation.[3]

Selected works

  • Knechtges, David R. (1968). "Yang Shyong, the Fuh, and Hann Rhetoric". Ph.D. dissertation (University of Washington).
  • ——— (1976). The Han Rhapsody: A Study of the Fu of Yang Hsiung (53 BC – AD 18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ——— (1982). Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, Volume One: Rhapsodies on Metropolises and Capitals. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • ——— (1982). The Han Shu Biography of Yang Xiong (53 BC – AD 18). Tempe: Center for Asian Studies, Arizona State University.
  • ——— (1987). Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, Volume Two: Rhapsodies on Sacrifices, Hunts, Travel, Palaces and Halls, Rivers and Seas. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • ——— (1996). Wen xuan or Selections of Refined Literature, Volume Three: Rhapsodies on Natural Phenomena, Birds and Animals, Aspirations and Feelings, Sorrowful Laments, Literature, Music, and Passions. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • ———, trans. Gong, Kechang 龔克昌 (1997). Studies on the Han Fu [Han fu yanjiu 漢賦研究]. American Oriental Series. 84. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
  • ——— (2002). Court Culture and Literature in Early China. Variorum Collected Studies Series. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
  • ———; Kroll, Paul, eds. (2003). Studies in Early Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History: In Honor of Richard B. Mather and Donald Holzman. Provo, Utah: T'ang Studies Society.
  • ———; Vance, Eugene, eds. (2005). Rhetoric and the Discourses of Power in Court Culture: China, Europe, and Japan. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • ——— (2010). "From the Eastern Han through the Western Jin (AD 25 – 317)". In Owen, Stephen (ed.). The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, Volume 1: To 1375. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–98.
  • ———, ed. (2012). The History of Chinese Civilisation, 4 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ———; Chang, Taiping, eds. (2010–14). Ancient and Early Medieval Chinese Literature: A Reference Guide. 4 vols. Leiden: E.J. Brill.


  1. ^ a b Knechtges (1992), p. 19.
  2. ^ David R. Knechtges - University of Washington
  3. ^ Interview with Professor Emeritus David Knechtges.
Works cited
  • Knechtges, David R. (1992). "Hellmut Wilhelm, Sinologue and Teacher". Oriens Extremus. 35: 19–21. JSTOR 24047216.

External links

Chinese cuisine

Chinese cuisine is an important part of Chinese culture, which includes cuisine originating from the diverse regions of China, as well as from Chinese people in other parts of the world. Because of the Chinese diaspora and historical power of the country, Chinese cuisine has influenced many other cuisines in Asia, with modifications made to cater to local palates. Chinese food staples such as rice, soy sauce, noodles, tea, and tofu, and utensils such as chopsticks and the wok, can now be found worldwide.

The preference for seasoning and cooking techniques of Chinese provinces depend on differences in historical background and ethnic groups. Geographic features including mountains, rivers, forests and deserts also have a strong effect on the local available ingredients, considering that the climate of China varies from tropical in the south to subarctic in the northeast. Imperial, royal and noble preference also plays a role in the change of Chinese cuisines. Because of imperial expansion and trading, ingredients and cooking techniques from other cultures are integrated into Chinese cuisines over time.

The most praised "Four Major Cuisines" are Chuan, Lu, Yue and Huaiyang, representing West, North, South and East China cuisine correspondingly. The modern "Eight Cuisines" of China are Anhui (徽菜 Huīcài), Cantonese (粤菜; Yuècài), Fujian (闽菜; Mǐncài), Hunan (湘菜; Xiāngcài), Jiangsu (苏菜; Sūcài), Shandong (鲁菜; Lǔcài), Sichuan (川菜; Chuāncài), and Zhejiang (浙菜; Zhècài) cuisines.Color, smell and taste are the three traditional aspects used to describe Chinese food, as well as the meaning, appearance and nutrition of the food. Cooking should be appraised with respect to the ingredients used, knifework, cooking time and seasoning.


The epideictic oratory, also called ceremonial oratory, or praise-and-blame rhetoric, is one of the three branches, or "species" (eidē), of rhetoric as outlined in Aristotle's Rhetoric, to be used to praise or blame during ceremonies.


The Fāngyán (Chinese: 方言; “regional words”, “regional expressions”, “dictionary of local expressions”, “regional spoken words”; not “dialects” as in modern Chinese) was the first Chinese dictionary of dialectal terms. It was edited by the scholar Yang Xiong, who lived from 53 BC to 18 AD. The full title is Yóuxuān shǐzhĕ juédài yǔ shì biéguó fāngyán (輶軒使者絕代語釋別國方言) "Local expressions of other countries in times immemorial explained by the Light-Carriage Messenger," which alludes to a Zhou dynasty tradition of imperial emissaries who made annual surveys of regional vocabulary throughout China. Yang's preface explains that he spent 27 years collating and editing the Fangyan, which has some 9000 characters in 13 chapters (卷).

Fangyan definitions typically list regional synonyms. For instance, chapter 8, which catalogs animal names, gives regional words for hu (虎 "tiger") in Han times. (虎, 陳魏宋楚之間或謂之李父, 江淮南楚之間謂之李耳, 或謂之於菟. 自關東西或謂之伯都.) "Tiger: in the regions of Chen-Wei Song-Chu [Central China], some call it lifu; in the regions of Jiang-Huai Nan-Chu [Southern China], they call it li'er, and some call it wutu. From the Pass, east- and west-ward [Eastern and Western China], some call it also bodu." (adapted from Serruys 1967: 256)

Comparative linguists have used dialect data from the Fangyan in reconstructing the pronunciation of Eastern Han Chinese (1st century CE), which is an important diachronic stage between Old Chinese and Middle Chinese. In the above example, Paul Serruys reconstructs "tiger" as Old Chinese *blxâg.

Serruys also applied the techniques of modern dialectology to the distribution of regional words, identifying dialect areas and their relationships.

Fu (poetry)

Fu (Chinese: 賦), often translated as "rhapsody" or "poetic exposition", is a form of Chinese rhymed prose that was the dominant literary form during the Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220). Fu are intermediary pieces between poetry and prose in which a place, object, feeling, or other subject is described and rhapsodized in exhaustive detail and from as many angles as possible. Classical fu composers attempted to use as wide a vocabulary as they could, and often included great numbers of rare and archaic words in their compositions. Fu poems employ alternating rhyme and prose, varying line length, close alliteration, onomatopoeia, loose parallelism, and extensive cataloging of their topics.Unlike the songs of the Classic of Poetry (Shijing 詩經) or the Verses of Chu (Chu ci 楚辭), fu were meant to be recited aloud or chanted but not sung. The fu genre came into being around the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC and continued to be regularly used into the Song dynasty (960–1279). Fu were used as grand praises for the imperial courts, palaces, and cities, but were also used to write "fu on things", in which any place, object, or feeling was rhapsodized in exhaustive detail. The largest collections of historical fu are the Selections of Refined Literature (Wen xuan 文選), the Book of Han (Han shu 漢書), the New Songs from the Jade Terrace (Yutai xinyong 玉臺新詠), and official dynastic histories.

There is no counterpart or similar form to the fu genre in Western literature. During a large part of the 20th century, fu poetry was harshly criticized by Chinese scholars as excessively ornate, lacking in real emotion, and ambiguous in its moral messages. Because of these historical associations, scholarship on fu poetry in China almost ceased entirely between 1949 and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Since then, study of fu has gradually returned to its previous level.

Fu (surname)

Fu is a Chinese surname, such as 傅, 符, 苻, 付, 扶, 伏, and 富.

Hellmut Wilhelm

Hellmut Wilhelm (10 December 1905 – 5 July 1990) was a German Sinologist known for his studies of both Chinese literature and Chinese history. Wilhelm was an expert on the ancient Chinese divination text I Ching (Yi jing), which he believed to represent the essence of Chinese thought. He also produced one of the most widely used German-Chinese dictionaries of the 20th century. He held teaching positions at Peking University and the University of Washington.

Wilhelm's father, Richard Wilhelm, was also a noted Sinologist, and held the first chair of Sinology at the University of Frankfurt.

Jia Kui (scholar)

Jia Kui (30–101 CE), courtesy name Jingbo, was a Confucian philosopher who lived in the early Eastern Han period. He was a descendant of the Western Han politician and writer Jia Yi. He was born in was Pingling (平陵), Youfufeng Commandery (右扶風郡), which is located northeast of present-day Xingping, Shaanxi. He studied at university in Luoyang.

K. C. Hsiao

K. C. Hsiao (Chinese: 蕭公權; 29 December 1897 – 4 November 1981) was a Chinese scholar and educator, best known for his contributions to Chinese political science and history.

King Ling of Zhou

King Ling of Zhou (Chinese: 周靈王; pinyin: Zhōu Líng Wáng) was the twenty-third king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty and the eleventh of Eastern Zhou. He died in 545 BC.In the twenty-first year of his reign, Confucius was born.His successor was his son King Jing of Zhou (Gui).

His other son was the Crown prince Ji Jin (姬晉). Empress Wu Zetian claimed that her lover Zhang Changzong was a reincarnation of Ji Jin.

Li Fang-Kuei

Li Fang-Kuei (20 August 1902 – 21 August 1987) was a Chinese linguist, known for his studies of the varieties of Chinese, and for his reconstructions of Old Chinese and Proto-Tai.

List of sinologists

A list of sinologists around the world, past and present. Sinology is commonly defined as the academic study of China primarily through Chinese language, literature, and history, and often refers to Western scholarship. Its origin "may be traced to the examination which Chinese scholars made of their own civilization."The field of sinology was historically seen to be equivalent to the application of philology to China, and until the 20th century was generally seen as meaning "Chinese philology" (language and literature). Sinology has broadened in modern times to include Chinese history, epigraphy, and other subjects.

Mathews' Chinese–English Dictionary

A Chinese–English Dictionary: Compiled for the China Inland Mission by R. H. Mathews (1931) or Mathews' Chinese–English Dictionary (1943), edited by the Australian Congregationalist missionary Robert Henry Mathews (1877-1970), was the standard Chinese–English dictionary for decades. Mathews originally intended his dictionary to be a revision of Frederick W. Baller's out-of-print (1900) An Analytical Chinese–English Dictionary, Compiled for the China Inland Mission, but ended up compiling a new dictionary. Mathews copied, without acknowledgment, from Herbert Allen Giles' (1892, 1912) A Chinese–English Dictionary.

The 1,250-page first edition contained 7,783 Chinese character head entries, alphabetically collated by romanized syllabic order in modified Wade–Giles system, and includes 104,000 words and phrases taken from the classics, general literature, and news media. Owing to a World War II shortage of Chinese–English dictionaries, Harvard University Press published a revised American edition (1943) Mathews' Chinese–English Dictionary, which included 15,000 corrections, revisions, and new examples.

Richard B. Mather

Richard Burroughs Mather (November 11, 1913 – November 28, 2014) was an American Sinologist who was a professor of Chinese at the University of Minnesota for 35 years.

Wang (surname)

Wang is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surnames 王 (Wáng) and 汪 (Wāng).

Wáng (王) was listed 8th on the famous Song Dynasty list of the Hundred Family Surnames; it is the most common surname in mainland China.Wāng (汪) was 104th of the Hundred Family Surnames; it is the 58th-most-common surname in mainland China.

The name Wang is also used in several European languages, with completely unrelated meanings despite an accidentally identical spelling.

Wen Xuan

The Wen Xuan (Chinese: 文選 [wə̌n.ɕɥɛ̀n]), or Selections of Refined Literature, is one of the earliest and most important anthologies of Chinese poetry and literature, and is one of the world's oldest literary anthologies to be arranged by topic. It is a selection of what were judged to be the best poetic and prose pieces from the late Warring States period (c. 300 BC) to the early Liang dynasty (c. AD 500), excluding the Chinese Classics and philosophical texts. The Wen Xuan preserves most of the greatest fu rhapsody and shi poetry pieces from the Qin and Han dynasties, and for much of pre-modern history was one of the primary sources of literary knowledge for educated Chinese.The Wen Xuan was compiled between AD 520 and 530 in the city of Jiankang (modern Nanjing) during the Liang dynasty by Xiao Tong, the eldest son of Emperor Wu of Liang, and a group of scholars he had assembled. The Liang dynasty, though short-lived, was a period of intense literary activity, and the ruling Xiao family ensured that eminent writers and scholars were frequently invited to the imperial and provincial courts. As Crown Prince, Xiao Tong received the best classical Chinese education available and began selecting pieces for his new anthology in his early twenties. The Wen Xuan contains 761 separate pieces organized into 37 literary categories, the largest and most well known being "Rhapsodies" (fu) and "Lyric Poetry" (shi).

Study of the Wen Xuan enjoyed immense popularity during the Tang dynasty (618–907), and its study rivalled that of the Five Classics during that period. The Wen Xuan was required reading for any aspiring scholar and official even into the Song dynasty, as evidenced by the medieval Chinese rhyme "Wen Xuan study thoroughly done / Half your licentiate already won" (Wénxuǎn làn, xiùcái bàn 文選爛,秀才半). Throughout the Yuan and Ming dynasties study of the Wen Xuan lapsed out of popularity, though the great philologists of the Qing dynasty revived its study to some extent.

Three volumes of the first full English translation of the Wen Xuan have been published by the American sinologist David R. Knechtges, professor emeritus of Chinese at the University of Washington, who aims to eventually complete the translation in five additional volumes.

Xun Kuang

Xun Kuang (; Chinese: 荀況; pinyin: Xún Kuàng [ɕy̌n kʰwâŋ]; c. 310 – c. 235 BC, alt. c. 314 – c. 217 BC), also widely known as Xunzi (; Chinese: 荀子; pinyin: Xúnzǐ; Wade–Giles: Hsün-tzu, "Master Xun"), was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States period and contributed to the Hundred Schools of Thought. A book known as the Xunzi is traditionally attributed to him. His works survive in an excellent condition, and were a major influence in forming the official state doctrines of the Han dynasty, but his influence waned during the Tang dynasty relative to that of Mencius.Xunzi discusses figures ranging from Confucius, Mencius, and Zhuangzi, to Linguists Mozi, Hui Shi and Gongsun Long and "Legalists" Shen Buhai and Shen Dao. He mentions Laozi as a figure for the first time in early Chinese history, and makes use of Taoist terminology, though rejecting their doctrine.

Yuan Xingpei

Yuan Xingpei ([ɥɛ̌n ɕǐŋ.pʰêi]; Chinese: 袁行霈; born April 18, 1936) is a Chinese scholar, educator, author, and political leader, known for his public service and publications on Chinese literature, particularly for his studies of Six Dynasties period poet Tao Yuanming. Yuan has been a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University since 1957.

Zhang Heng

Zhang Heng (Chinese: 張衡; AD 78–139), formerly romanized as Chang Heng, was a Han Chinese polymath from Nanyang who lived during the Han dynasty. Educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, he achieved success as an astronomer, mathematician, scientist, engineer, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar.

Zhang Heng began his career as a minor civil servant in Nanyang. Eventually, he became Chief Astronomer, Prefect of the Majors for Official Carriages, and then Palace Attendant at the imperial court. His uncompromising stance on historical and calendrical issues led to his becoming a controversial figure, preventing him from rising to the status of Grand Historian. His political rivalry with the palace eunuchs during the reign of Emperor Shun (r. 125–144) led to his decision to retire from the central court to serve as an administrator of Hejian in Hebei. Zhang returned home to Nanyang for a short time, before being recalled to serve in the capital once more in 138. He died there a year later, in 139.

Zhang applied his extensive knowledge of mechanics and gears in several of his inventions. He invented the world's first water-powered armillary sphere to assist astronomical observation; improved the inflow water clock by adding another tank; and invented the world's first seismoscope, which discerned the cardinal direction of an earthquake 500 km (310 mi) away. He improved previous Chinese calculations for pi. In addition to documenting about 2,500 stars in his extensive star catalog, Zhang also posited theories about the Moon and its relationship to the Sun: specifically, he discussed the Moon's sphericity, its illumination by reflected sunlight on one side and the hidden nature of the other, and the nature of solar and lunar eclipses. His fu (rhapsody) and shi poetry were renowned in his time and studied and analyzed by later Chinese writers. Zhang received many posthumous honors for his scholarship and ingenuity; some modern scholars have compared his work in astronomy to that of the Greco-Roman Ptolemy (AD 86–161).

Zong-qi Cai

Zong-qi Cai (蔡宗齊) is a bicultural U.S./China academic based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches Chinese literature and Classical Chinese poetry and leads the Forum on Chinese Poetic Culture. Cai also teaches as the Lee Wing Tat Chair Professor of Chinese Literature at Lingnan University (Hong Kong). Widely published in both English and Chinese, Prof. Cai puts equal emphasis on individual research, collective contributions and the development of a mutually beneficial East-West literary academic culture.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinKāng Dáwéi
Gwoyeu RomatzyhKang Darwei
Wade–GilesK'ang Ta-wei

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