The earliest book-length treatise in Chinese literary criticism, the Wenxin diaolong is of central importance in the Chinese tradition. The work was compiled in the sixth century, one of the most fertile and original periods in Chinese critical thinking. Its author, Liu Xie, was a Buddhist monk as well as a Confucian scholar, and so represented the main persuasions of China. The Wenxin diaolong first came to be noted in the seventeenth century, when it was studied by scholars and edited by Mei Qingsheng. When the study of literary criticism became an independent discipline early in the twentieth century, it developed into a cynosure that was widely discussed and provided with learned annotations. This volume presents a fresh translation of the Wenxin diaolong that is at once authoritative and elegant. It may well be regarded as a standard reference by students of sinology and comparative literature.