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How serious was literary inquisition in Ming Dynasty? At pinnacle of history, new ideas in China have been suppressed ever since.

Information from Dictionary of Poetry of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties

A large number of literary investigations occurred, due to which writers of early Ming Dynasty did not dare to comment on current events, so so-called "Taige style", that is, poems and essays praising merits of Ming Dynasty, arose. . As a result, poetic and literary circles of early Ming Dynasty did not achieve much, and Ming Dynasty was most withered era of Chinese poetry.

The literary inquisition distorted style of writing, resulting in taige-style poetry dominating literary world. The emergence and flourishing of Taige style poetry is a regression in history of Chinese culture, and literary inquisition is a decisive factor in this regression. —— Zhang Ping, “A Brief Discussion of Influence of Literary Inquisition in Early Ming Dynasty on Literary World of Ming Dynasty”

In terms of novels, early Ming dynasty was also barren. At end of Yuan Dynasty and beginning of Ming Dynasty, two famous novels appeared: "Fields of Water" and "Romance of Three Kingdoms", and these two books were basically completed at end of Yuan Dynasty. After this, literary world of Ming Dynasty languished for a long time, and Journey to West did not appear until late Ming Dynasty.

It is said that after Zhu Yuanzhang established his capital in Nanjing, he found out that Shi Nayang wrote "Water Supply" and was worried that it would cause havoc if it spread, so he wanted to censor content. Shi Nayan panicked and immediately wrote "Fengshen Bang" praising new dynasty and being absurd. Seeing this, Zhu Yuanzhang thought that Shi Nayan had gone mad, so Shi Nayan saved his life. While this legend is absurd, it also reflects how strict literary inquisition was at beginning of Ming Dynasty.

Information from Dictionary of Qi Poetry Evaluation in Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties

In terms of poetry production, Ming Dynasty was clearly at a low point. Sanqu was developed during Yuan Dynasty but stopped abruptly during Ming Dynasty. As for poetry, although there is a lot of it, quality is generally poor. There is also a strange phenomenon: poetry of poets of one taste, and some people who are not poets occasionally write beautiful works, such as Yu Qian's "Using Coal" , Qi Jiguang's "Immediate Composition". Regarding Qi, Chen Tingzhuo suggested that "Qi is as far away as Ming Dynasty, but Qi is dead". Fine works such as Chen Zilong did not appear until Ming Qi was about to perish, and most of their works were written in Ming Dynasty after.

Taige style creator: Sang Yang

Compared to Ming Dynasty, poetry of Qing Dynasty can be called "Zhonxing". Qian Zhonglian observed that Qing poetry "opened up a new situation that surpassed Ming and Yuan dynasties and rivaled Tang and Song dynasties". The great poets of Qing Dynasty, such as Zhao Yi, Nalan Xingde, Chen Weisong, Zhu Yizong, Gong Zizhen, Jiang Chunlin, Qiu Jin, and so on, performed in large numbers. The Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties Poetry Evaluation Dictionary, published by Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House, consists of two volumes: Liao, Jin, Yuan and Ming dynasties occupy one volume, and Qing dynasty a separate volume. "Dictionary of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties" contains a total of 843 words, including 582 words of Qing Dynasty, only 134 words of Ming Dynasty, and 127 words of Yuan Dynasty. In fact, in terms of quality, words of Ming dynasty are not as good as those of Jin and Yuan dynasties, and Jin and Yuan at least have Yuan Haowen, Saduqi and other great masters.

3. Fight against emerging ideas and a ban on destruction of world academies

In middle and end of Ming Dynasty, new ideas continued to emerge, but Ming Dynasty chose harsh means to suppress them. There were no restrictions on style format in imperial exam at beginning of Ming Dynasty. By middle of Ming Dynasty, stereotyped writing appeared. In 1487, it was expressly ordered that imperial examination be replaced by "Classics and Meanings" examination with an examination of stereotypical writings. Si. Free game. This made it difficult to select people with active thinking and beautiful writing in later imperial examinations.

In middle of Ming Dynasty, number of literary inquisitions decreased, which made public opinion more open, so novels and dramas began to recover, and new phenomena began to appear in literary world. But Ming was still cracking down on new ideas. For example, during Jiajing period, progressive thinkers such as Yan Jun and Liang Ruyuan appeared, but Ming Dynasty court found their ideas strange and arrogant, so they were arrested and ordered to be killed.

The Wanli period saw rise of enlightened thinker Li Zhi, who sharply criticized Cheng-Zhu's neo-Confucianism and suggested that everyone should be equal, think independently, and break authority of saints. Neo-Confucians called such a theory "heresy" and "aberration", so it was attacked. Li Zhi was worried that his book would be destroyed, so he named it "Book Collection" and "Book Burning". In 30th year of Wanli's reign, Li Zhi was finally arrested and died in prison. As expected, his books were burned many times.

The Ming Dynasty also cracked down on academic education extensively. Academies appeared in Tang Dynasty and flourished in Song Dynasty, they were seat of various university schools in Song Dynasty and a symbol of academic freedom in Song Dynasty. At beginning of Ming Dynasty, academies declined, main reason was that Ming Dynasty strengthened control over ideology, repeated literary investigations, and caused decline of popular academies. The Ming Dynasty also established that "Imperial examinations should be taken in schools", and did not attach importance to, protect or encourage academic education. For example, Bailudong Academy was destroyed by war at end of Yuan Dynasty and was not rebuilt until 1438, after which it was abandoned for 87 years. This caused Ming academies to become "courses of study" for imperial examination system.

At end of Ming Dynasty, number of academies increased and their activities gradually became active, but Ming Dynasty destroyed academies on a large scale. In 1537, Ming dynasty ordered destruction of academies that spread knowledge of Wang Yangming and Zhang Ruoshui. The Ming Dynasty considered Yangming's Xinxue a false and evil teaching and wanted to kill him soon; 1538, In 1579, Zhang Jiuzhen "destroyed Tianxia Academy", "Zhang Jiuzhen's ban on destruction completely destroyed prosperous position of Ming Dynasty Academy because of Wang and Zhang's lectures".

In 1625, Ming dynasty ordered "the destruction of Donglin Lecture Academy". Many academies were also destroyed as places where Donglin Party lectured. It no longer irrevocably slides to bottom. The dynasty banned and destroyed academies not only four times. According to historical records, academies were banned and destroyed eight times in Wanli period alone, twice in Tianqi period, and twice in Jiajing period, for a total of twelve times.

To sum up, in addition to maintaining authority of imperial power, literary inquisition of Ming Dynasty also aimed to suppress emerging social ideas and protect orthodox status of Cheng-Zhu's Confucianism. Suppression by dynasty of speeches against Qing. During Qing Dynasty, ideas of Enlightenment were not attacked by society, so Huang Zongxi, Gu Yanwu, Wang Fuzhi and others could write books and put forward ideas of Enlightenment against autocratic monarchy. The literary inquisition of Ming Dynasty led to confinement of thought and withering of literary world, which caused great damage to Chinese culture.


Chinese Academy of Social Sciences "History of Chinese Dating, Ming History Series"

Deng Hongbo from Hunan University "Three Destroyed Ming Academies and Its Influence"

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