, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 213–228 | Cite as

Fictionality as a rhetorical resource in Zuozhuan

  • Yuzhen LinEmail author


Zuozhuan (Spring and autumn annals with Zuos commentary) initiated a narrative practice in Chinese historiography, which features not only records of historical events, but also various mysterious and unsubstantiated phenomena, such as divinations, omens, acts of mystical justice, apparitions and dreams. They played important roles for interpreting fictionality as a rhetorical resource in Zuozhuan. To elaborate fictionality and its competing relations with factuality, this paper subscribes to some Chinese scholars’ idea that it is from Zuozhuan on that fictionality endows Chinese historiography some “literary cover”, and analyzes those events in Zuozhuan. Moreover, enlightened by a rhetorical approach to fictionality proposed by Nielson, Phelan, and Walsh, this paper examines fictionality in Zuozhuan in terms of communicative intent, sender of fictionality, receivers of fictionality, and consequences on the logos and ethos. It argues that the communicative intent of Zuozhuan facilitates its compiler to utilize various means of fictionality so that the receivers conceive many interpretive assumptions, thus shedding much light to later generations in composing history.


Fictionality Rhetorical approach to fictionality Zuozhuan 



This work was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China (Grant Number: 17ZDA281). And I want to express my most sincere gratitude for the instructive suggestions made by anonymous reviewers as well as Professor Shang Biwu.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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