This article opens with a reflection on the extrinsic and intrinsic causes of the neglect of Chinese prose in sinological literary studies, followed by the construction of a patterning-based scheme for codifying Chinese prose forms. An in-depth analysis of eight famous texts, drawn from antiquity through the Qing, reveals how continual innovations in extratextual patterning and textual patterning have given rise to manifold and inherently related prose forms over the millennia. The close reading also sheds light on these prose forms' distinctive artistic features, as well as their symbiotic relationships with the three types of genres (narrative, descriptive, and expository) and with broad sociopolitical and cultural developments. It is hoped that these findings will generate serious interest in prose studies among literary sinologists.

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