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Han Yu's Prose

The prose of Han Yu (AD 768-824) is rich in content and varied in form. His concise, novel and vivid language made a fine model for the Revival of Classical Prose. The style of Han Yu's prose can be summarized as powerful, unrestrained and flexible.

Han Yu's prose falls into four categories: argumentation, essay, biography and lyrical prose. His arguments were emphatic, lucid and logical,mainly focusing on expounding the doctrine of Confucianism and opposing Buddhism. Representative works of this category include: "A Lecture on instruction," and "On the Origin of Destruction."

His sketches are also penetrating and vivid, as represented by "OnHorses." Han Yu's biographical prose carried on the tradition of Records ofthe Historian in describing figures through narration, and adopting well-chosen commentary and lyrical expression. "Epilogue to the Biographyof Zhang, Vice-Censor-in-Chief" is familiar to many readers.

Among his prose lyrics, "On the Death of My Nephew" was thoughtto be the height of elegiac eloquence with a vivid lyricism.

Han Yu was a master of language. He was highly committed to learningfrom his predecessors and made great efforts in refining current colloquialexpressions. He created many new words and sayings, many of whichhave become set phrases widely circulated and are even still used bypeople today.

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