Wei-ch'eng; (hereafter referred to by the translated title Fortress Besieged) by Ch'ien Chung-shu (1910?—) has been hailed as the most “carefully wrought novel in modern Chinese literature” and “perhaps also its greatest.” Despite such distinction, however, neither this work nor any other of Ch'ien's creative writings has been widely studied. This paper is an initial exploration directed at investigating the above claims from the linguistic and stylistic points of view. One focus is figurative language, of which there is a substantial amount in this novel: some 680 uses in 340 pages, one page having as many as nine. (Approximately seventy-four percent of these figurative uses are similes.) Though in the absence of norms it is difficult to make a relative statement, in absolute terms this is rich usage.

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