Tang Shunzhi 1507-1560

Essayist and literary theorist of the Ming dynasty. Born in present day Jiangsu, Tang passed the jinshi examination in 1529 and went on to enjoy a successful official career, culminating in his appointment to the position of Governor of Fengyang in 1560. Among his various achievements, Tang helped to revive the tradition of the Tang-Song prose style, and compiled an important anthology known as the Jingchuan wenbian demonstrating his stylistic ideas. Tang himself excelled in the writing of biographies, epitaphs and inscriptions, and according to one critic, "strove to achieve a natural and harmonious blend of ideas and language". In his thinking on literature, Tang emphasized the importance of fa (method), but he saw this as something that developed spontaneously from the process of writing. In this sense, his thinking acted as a corrective to the exclusive concern with form which dominated many literary schools of the Ming dynasty.