ISBN: 9788776941093

Wu Song Fights the Tiger: The Interaction of Oral and Written Traditions in the Chinese Novel, Drama and Storytelling


By Vibeke Børdahl

2013, 512 pp, 18x26 cm.

The focus of Chinese literary studies has long been on the written word even though Chinese fiction and drama have strong oral roots and have been shaped by an interplay between oral and written traditions. The culmination of decades working on this issue—and using as its lens the story about how the legendary hero Wu Song killed a tiger with his bare hands—this volume explores Chinese oral professional storytelling and its relations with literary culture in the past and present.


  • Explores the interplay between orality and written culture.
  • Important implications for future studies in traditional Chinese literature.
  • Culminates decades of study in this field by the author.

About the Author

Vibeke Børdahl, Ph. D., Dr. Phil., senior researcher at NIAS, specialises in Chinese oral literature and dialectology.  Her recent research is concerned with the interplay of oral and written traditions in Chinese popular literature and performance culture.

Her book-length studies and edited volumes include Along the Broad Road of Realism:  Qin Zhaoyang's World of Fiction, The Oral Tradition of Yangzhou Storytelling, The Eternal Storyteller: Oral Literature in Modern China, Chinese Storytellers—Life and Art in the Yangzhou Tradition, Four Masters of Chinese Storytelling—Full Length Repertoires of Yangzhou Storytelling on Video, and The Interplay of the Oral and Written in Chinese Popular Literature.

What others are saying

“Her penetrating analysis will command the close attention of all scholars with an interest in the early formation of Chinese novels, the history of Chinese performance traditions, and comparative oral-literate traditions. . . . It opens up new horizons in the study of the dynamics of oral-literate interactions in a Chinese context . . . an indispensable aid to scholars in the field.” —Anne McLaren, University of Melbourne

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