The symbolic mode of presentation in the poetry of Juan Chi

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Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR)

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Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews


Juan Chi 阮籍 (210-263) is praised in these highest terms by Chung Hung 鐘嶸(468-ca. 518) in his magnum opus Gradingo f Poets (Shih-p'in 詩品). Here he spells ou t the prominent features of Juan Chi's poetry: unadorned poetic form, profound emotional effects on the reader, and complex thoughts and feelings beyond language. Notably, these features are none other than the distinctive qualities of a symbolic mode of presentation. While Chung Hung throws light on the symbolic nature of Juan Chi's poetry, he offers no analysis of the symbolic mode of presentation in Juan Chi's eighty-two introspective poems. Like Chung Hung, most traditional Chinese critics follow the approach of a poetry connoisseur and rest content with making impressionistic comments on Juan Chi's works. To this day, an analytical, systematic study of his symbolic mode remains to be undertaken. In the following pages, I will observe the formal features of his symbolic mode, and analyze them in the light of his exploitation of indeterminacy on the levels of poetic imagery, structure and inter-textual relationship. I will focus on examining how the poet conveys his deep and untrammeled ideas and how the reader penetrates the poet's interior consciousness through the play of indeterminacy on those three levels.



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Cai, Z.-q. (1993). The symbolic mode of presentation in the poetry of Juan Chi. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), 15, 37-56. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/495372