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Which books to use to learn Classical Chinese?

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38 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Can you think of any obvious reason


I can't think of a definite reason, it's a question of try and see, but I'm rather sceptical about using Classical poetry to learn 文言文, not because of the time distance but the fact that they are so different in development, rules and styles. I plan to use Barnes' poetry book more as a reference to clarify some of my many questions on particular poems (it helps that it is nicely indexed), in the process I hope to get some very useful tips on Classical Chinese.


OTH I have the impression that his Grammar book will come as a very helpful crutch to get through Fuller and Rouzer, it appears as a complement to the traditional texts and seems to give more of the general picture rather than examples tied up to a specific text, it also seems quite well organised from a grammar perspective. At first glance, I see no problem studying it alongside the usual textbooks. 


45 minutes ago, somethingfunny said:

I think it is because so many of these books are products of university courses


That's quite true, a class environment does help, but it very much depend on the teachers. 

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I'm going to be a little out of left-field and say that memorisation is the way to go.


Start by verbally memorising poems set to music. Chinese children learn many Classical Chinese poems before they're old enough to even read Putonghua. A channel I've used is Mika123 and their Gushi playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_-sB4VbHOw&list=PLApCSH-Eh7i4MqqeIj9qxBR_aifSu_q8k


I've memorised over a dozen poems over the course of 2 months, at which point I've started memorising prose and prose-poetry, like parts of the Analects, or works like 賣炭翁 and 大學. The songs will build very entrenched memories that will be hard to dislodge and also help you build confidence to start memorising bigger, harder texts.


Just keep doing this for ages while also reading a good book on basic grammar cover-to-cover. You will start to feel very comfortable with the language.


I'll just re-emphasise. Memorise poems verbally, sing them, then speak them. Characters aren't terribly important. They will help you disambiguate meaning in the process of meorisation. You can memorise how to write the poem too, but only after memorising it spoken.


Anyway, that's just how I do it.

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