Wu Song Fights the Tiger

The Interaction of Oral and Written Traditions in the Chinese Novel, Drama and Storytelling

Vibeke Børdahl

512 pp., 30 color illus.,
NIAS Monographs # 122

Hardback - 2013, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 108 6, £80
Paperback - 2013, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 109 3, £25.00

  •  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.


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.

“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)

Press news

  • Aug. 9 2019
    Carol Ann Boshier's book 'Mapping Cultural Nationalism: The Scholars of the Burma Research Society,1910-1935' has been shortlisted for the EuroSEAS Humanities Book Prize 2019. Congratulations!

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