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The Problem with Anthologies: The Case of the Poems of Ying Qu (190-252)

UC Berkeley's Center for Chinese Studies presents a talk by David Knechgtes on the fragments of Ying Qu's poem.

September 24, 2009 4:00pm to 5:30pm

David Knechgtes, Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington

Paula Varsano, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley, discussant

The shi poems in the Wen xuan are classified into twenty-three categories. There is one troublesome category designated “Bai yi” 百一, which literally means “one hundred one” or “one of a hundred.” The “Bai yi” category in the Wen xuan contains only one poem by a single poet, Ying Qu 應璩 (190–252). Li Shan 李善 (d. 689) in his commentary to the Wen xuan records four explanations of title “Bai yi” all of which state that Ying Qu’s poems contained veiled criticisms of contemporary affairs. This talk will examine the extant fragments of Ying Qu’s poem and consider the question of why some sources designate his poems not as “Bai yi,” but xin shi 新詩 or “new poems.” Evidence will show that Ying Qu was considered throughout the Wei, Jin, Nanbeichao period the premier author of poems critical of contemporary affairs, and his poems were called “new” because he was the first poet to use the pentasyllabic form to write a series of critical poems. The speaker will reconsider Ying Qu’s “Bai yi” poem included in the Wen xuan and argue that it may actually contain an implicit criticism of the court.