Abstract Chen Kui published the Wen Ze, The Rules of Writing) in 1170. Chinese scholars commonly describe this as the first systematic account of Chinese rhetoric. This paper will place the Wen Ze in its historical and rhetorical context and provide a translation and discussion of key extracts from the book. In providing a summary of the key points of The Rules of Writing, this paper presents the main principles of Chinese composition and rhetoric as laid out by Chen Kui. It will also provide evidence that rhetorical styles are a product of their times. Like fashions, they flourish and fade and then flourish again.
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