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Wang Kuo-wei's Jen-chien Tz'u-hua

A Study in Chinese Literary Criticism

A.A. Rickett

Publication Year: 1977

In the first decade of the twentieth century while other intellectuals were concerned with translating works of political and scientific import into Chinese, Wang Kuo-wei (1877-1927) looked to Western philosophy to find answers to the fundamental questions of human life.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xi

‘In general, Chinese works of literary criticism have been written for sharp-witted men to read. With one point made, all becomes immediately clear with no need to waste words. Western critical essays, on the other hand, have been written for the dull-witted and so there is a need to explain clearly the principles...

Chronology of Major Events in the Life of Wang Kuo-wei

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pp. xii-xiii


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pp. xiv-xvi

I. Chinese Literary Criticism

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Poetic Criticism before the Sung Dynasty

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pp. 1-4

Chinese poetic criticism has a long if somewhat erratic history, but in terms of sheer volume of output it can be said to have reached full bloom only in the Sung dynasty. The earliest material that in any way resembles literary criticism consists of scattered pronouncements in Chou dynasty documents on the didactic purpose of poetry...

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Sung Dynasty Poetic Criticism

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pp. 5-7

Ssu-k'ung T'u feels that a poet can find the Way, can find ultimate Truth, by starting with evocative images of nature and then allowing his mind to move freely on to enter the Void. Stirred by the images in the poem the reader then is also drawn on beyond the words themselves to meanings far too subtle to be bound by words....

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The Shih-hua as a Form for Poetic Criticism

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pp. 8-9

Given the fact that poetic criticism was of such interest among Chinese intellectuals, we may well ask why so much of it was written in the informal medium of shih-hua and tz 'u-hua.15Kuo Shao-y

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The Jen-chien tz’u-hua

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pp. 10-11

In form the Jen-chien tz'u-hua adheres closely to the traditional approach to poetic criticism. Comments on poets, on techniques of prosody, on theories of poetry, on genres and periods are mixed together with no attempt at order. The work in its present form consists of two ch

II. Wang Kuo-wei's Poetic Criticism

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Western Influences

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pp. 12-19

The Comments in the Jen-chien tz'u-hua can be grouped roughly into expressions of Wang Kuo-wei's own theories of poetry and his praise or blame of various traditional approaches to poetry in China. Both aspects represent a blending of Chinese and Western concepts, thus reflecting the two strains in his educational development. Raised at the end of the nineteenth century in the Confucian tradition...

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Chinese Influences

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pp. 20-22

With this prejudice against utilitarianism, didacticism, and moralism in the approach to philosophy and literature and with his very strong, positive feeling that literature should show genuineness in expression of emotions and verity in description of objects, it was natural for Wang Kuo-wei to find much in common with Chinese critics...

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His Poetic Theory

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pp. 23-31

The importance Wang attached to ching-chieh can be seen from the fact that it appears in the first Comment in the Jen-chien tz'u-hua. It would have been helpful to later generations if he had gone on in the next few pages to elaborate on his initial statement, but we must read through the entire work to find only twenty-five comments...

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III. The Tz’u as a Poetic Form

‘Each age has a literature distinctive to it: the sao of Ch'u, the fu of Han, the parallel style of the Six Dynasties, the shih of T'ang, the tz'u of Sung, and the ch'ü of Yüan were each the particular literature of their age and later generations were never able to continue them...

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p. 32-32

What are tz'u? Where and how did they begin, and how are they different from other forms of poetry? The character tz'u 詞in its most ordinary meaning is simply ‘word' or ‘expression', as found, for example, in compounds such as yen tz'u 言誦...

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Tune Patterns

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pp. 33-34

...subject for a great deal of study by Chinese, Japanese, and Western scholars. Most helpful for Westerners is Glen Baxter's ‘Metricalorigins of the tz'u'. 2 Professor Baxter points out that although poems of unequal line length are to be found all through Chinese history, 3 the form that came to be known品tz'uhad its ‘taproots' in the T'ang dynasty. During ...

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p. 35-35

In the ninth century as ch'ang-tuan ch

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p. 36-36

In Comment 54 Wang Kuo-wei explains the reasons for the rise in popularity of tz'u as a repetition in the process of development of the other forms of poetry in earlier periods. That is to say, when a genre has been in vogue for some time...

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p. 37-37

One characteristic that all tz'u have in common, however, whether written earlier or later, whether written by poets who frequented brothels or poets who confined themselves to a scholar's study, is the reliance on word pictures to convey the meaning of the poem...

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Anthologies in Chinese and Western Translations

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pp. 38-39

Many editors did not consider tz'u a serious part of a man's literary and scholar1y work and so tz 'u were sometimes omitted from his collected works and had to be printed separately. This meant that a great number of poems were lost or were mixed with the tz'u of another poet....

IV. Translation, Chuan 1

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pp. 40-67

V. Translation, Chuan 2

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pp. 68-87

VI. Translation, Supplement

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pp. 88-99

VII. Translation, Appendix

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pp. 100-104


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pp. 105-120


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pp. 121-133

E-ISBN-13: 9789882203075
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622090033

Page Count: 150
Publication Year: 1977