Poetry of exile and return: a study of Su Shi (1037-1101)
Tomlonovic, Kathleen M
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As one of the leading scholar-statesmen of the Northern Song (960-1127), Su Shi influenced the development of literary and cultural values during a critical formative period in Chinese history. Serving the court during a time of intense factional disputes, he was demoted and exiled. He was banished to Huangzhou from 1080-1084, to Huizhou from 1094-1097, and to Danzhou on Hainan Island from 1097 until he received amnesty in 1100.The themes of exile and return, prominent in Su Shi's corpus of poetry, are shown to illuminate an ambivalence in his attitudes toward service and retirement. His poetry is explicated in order to determine how he conceived of himself during times of exile and to analyze how he viewed his predicament.Chapter One is a review of the historical context of Su Shi's exiles. The causes of his exiles are then explained. Accounts of his journeys into exile, his adaptation to and transformation of the places of exile are given in Chapter Two. The adversities of deprivation, disgrace, and death are explored in Chapter Three. These are shown in relation to responses based on Su Shi's understanding of the Chinese philosophical and religious traditions. His effective use of imaginative in creating alternatives to the realities encountered is also explained. Su Shi and his writings are placed within the context of conventional literary figures and tropes in Chapter Four. Next his preference for identification with men in retirement, specifically with Tao Yuanming, is analyzed. Chapter Five also explains why Su Shi composed poetry to match the rhymes of Tao. In Chapter six, literature he composed during exile is seen in relation to his general corpus. The thesis concludes that Su Shi's initial ambivalence toward engagement and reclusion was intensified by the exile experience. The exile periods and the literature composed about exile and return are accorded their proper importance as factors contributing to the significance of Su Shi and his works in the history of Chinese literature.
- East Asian studies