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A person of the state composed a poem:…
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"A person of the state" composed a poem: Lyrics of praise and blame in the…

by J. Michael Farmer

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Recently added byMeditationesMartini

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Pretty interesting--it's about poetry in late-Han Sichuan, in a vanished provicen called "Ban Commandery," where poets who had once been honoured, not to say co-opted, adjuncts of the state producing formulaic lyrics to the glory of the Emperor and the Chinese people and getting seats at the best tables saw their funding dry up as the empire started to fall apart, and began, many of them, to put out anonymous pamphlets by "a person of the state," or sometimes made-up characters like "an honest peasant," including verse portraits of individuals to be praised and/or blamed for their actions in an era of corruption, poverty and decline, sometimes shaming them to spur authorities into action or as a last consequence in lieu of that action, and also to represent that decline, and also to assert that far Sichuan was still part of the empire even if it was feeling a bit abandoned and puff up people's national pride, but then also to express local pride in the absence of the central authority (this being something that had emphatically not been done in the high-imperial era), making it sort of diaspora or colonist or "remnant" poetry, and then, unfortunately, unfortunately, also hacking on the barbarians and the non-Han people of Sichuan and calling them slaves and scum. It's a new and fascinating world to me, o I can't really evaluate this paper, but Farmer sure didn't make any effort to make it accessible to anyone other than the specialist (which as someone who edits academic papers for a living let me tell you you can always make it fairly accessible to the layman [which also though btw let me note defensively that don't chortle when you read this review and think "HE's an editor?!?!"--this is mannerism, brah, stylistics, affectatation, just if you didn't know]), but hey, it was worth the half hour to read. In Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews. ( )
2 vote MeditationesMartini | Nov 27, 2011 |
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