AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Gu Tang Shigui and the making of commented poetry anthologies in the seventeenth century China

by Jie Cui

Institution: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Year: 2014
Keywords: Gu Tang Shigui
Record ID: 2057005
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/46783


This study is intended to explore the reasons for the great impact of Gu Tang Shigui in the seventeenth century China through examining this poetry anthology from the perspective of pingdian style commentary. I argue that Gu Tang Shigui is not merely an academic anthology in which the Jingling???s poetic ideal was fully represented. It is also a poetry anthology deliberately compiled to meet the educational needs and satisfy the cultural pursuit of the majority of the readers in the late Ming society. Chapter one demonstrates that the successful publication and circulation of Gu Tang Shigui was fundamental to establishing the reputation of the Jingling School. Even though this anthology was severely criticized after the Ming fell, the scholars??? criticisms also ironically show the deep and far-reaching influence this anthology had been. Chapter two explores the genesis and developments of pingdian style commentary in history. I demonstrate that Zhong Xing and Tan Yuanchun devoted almost all their energy to Shigui project, but the pingdian form that they chose for Shigui was not a good literary criticism form in their contemporary scholars??? opinions. By examining pingdian form in history, I argue that pingdian form combines the features of proofreading marks, textual scholarship, and literary criticism, and eventually evolves into a unique form of practical criticism: full exploitation of margin space, multiple-angle examination of major text, and close interaction with texts and readers. Chapter three explores the reasons Zhong Xing and Tan Yuanchun chose pingdian form instead of shihua form. I contend that Zhong and Tan deliberately chose pingdian form to achieve their two major goals: theoretic expression and educational function. Zhong and Tan???s writing style of commentaries matched the unique features of pingdian form and served well its educational purpose. Therefore, pingdian style commentaries became one of the key factors that resulted in Shigui???s well reception among the late Ming readers. Chapter four investigates the multiple roles and approaches of a compiler of commented poetry anthology. I maintain that Zhong Xing and Tan Yuanchun clearly knew a compiler???s dual roles. They never downplayed their role as a reader. Instead, they highlighted their reading experiences in poetry learning and always liked to share what they read and how they read in commentaries. Meanwhile, they associated their reading experiences closely with the cultural concepts in the late Ming society. The dissertation concludes by putting Shigui and the pingdian form into a larger historical context. And the tendency of writing pingdian form in the Qing also proves the great value of pingdian form in terms of education.