In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

T'ang Studies 18-19 (2000-01) The Significance of the fu in the History of T'ang Poetry PAUL W. KROLL UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO Simplistic faith in a sequence of generic fI golden ages" in Chinese literary history would have us believe that the fu M passed its peak with the fall of the Han dynasty. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, with that view for the most part accepted uncritically as dogma, one can almost hear the sighs of relief breathed by successive hosts of students learning the rudiments of Chinese literary history, upon reaching the safe harbor of the mature wu-yen shih 1i r=t ~ in the early third century-no more to struggle with the daunting length,:syntactic difficulties, lexical rarities, Corinthian profusion of synonyms that characterize the Hanfit, now we can turn our attention to something we respond to more comfortably as real "poetry," and something much less taxing as well. But to snub the medieval (Wei-ChinNan-pei-ch'ao and T'ang) fit is to consign ourselves not only to wilful ignorance of what was during that period a prevalent and still vital genre of verse; it also guarantees a one-eyed view of the shih itself. Cicero says that poets vocibus magus quam rebus inserviunt (flare more devoted to words than to topics"). The truth of this helps to explain the frequency with which poets everywhere have commented on their craft as less a matter of creation than of discovery . It is, as Michaelangelo and Borges have suggested (and others in similar metaphors), most akin to the sculptor's work of This is an expanded version of a paper read at the national meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2001, Chicago. In a few places it includes some revised sentences from my "Seven Rhapsodies of Ts'ao Chih," Journal of the American Oriental Society 120.1 (2000): 1-12, and "Poetry of the T'ang Dynasty (shih and fu)," in The Columbia History of Chinese Literature, ed. V. Mair (New 87 Kroll: The Tang fu freeing from the stone the image already contained therein, as though it were merely waiting to be brought forth. Hence the sense of "fulfillment," in both senses-of "'possession," if you will-that a good writer is aware of experiencing upon working a composition to its close: the feeling that the right words were somehow hovering "'out there," patient to be found, or perhaps even calling one to uncover them, through one or more attempts at inventio-that is, both invention and discovery. This is what, in our post-classical if not post-modern world, the Muse is: not so much a divinity breathing her song into the poet but rather the guiding, inchoate voice of a certain formulation of language pressing one to uncover it. The Muse is thus the active, internal forceone might say the te 1J~-of a language. Here is the real meaning of what we call tradition. Tradition is the registry, the certified catalogue, of the various sanctioned transcriptions, each in its own particular calligraphy, of those formulations. Now, much of the classicalpoetic tradition of China, from the Han through the T'ang, is embodied in the fu. Our too usual neglect of this fact owes, I fear, a great deal to the anxious desire mentioned above, that of avoiding the seemingly difficult (we might as well be honest about this). It also owes something to the obvious-so obvious that we often forget it-ambiguity of the word shih, confusing a particular form of verse with the domain of "'poetry" in general: the confusion, for instance, that sees the Ch'iian T'ang shih ~~~ as containing the (putatively) complete collection of T'ang poetry, rather than a collection of T'ang shih, and indeed some tz'u ~~.Or which correspondingly interprets the Ch'iian T'ang wen ~m3t as containing just T'ang "prose" and therefore dismisses the fu included there-as well as mounds of inscriptional verse that are in fact the artistic raison d'etre of genres such as the ming jg, tsan ~, sung i~, pei ~, etc.-from the concern of poetry "specialists." One...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 87-105
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.