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Southern Identity and Southern Estrangement in Medieval Chinese Poetry$
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Ping Wang and Nicholas Morrow Williams

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139262

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139262.001.0001

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Southland as Symbol

Southland as Symbol

(p.1) 1 Southland as Symbol
Southern Identity and Southern Estrangement in Medieval Chinese Poetry

Ping Wang

Nicholas Morrow Williams

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter introduces the Southland and characterizes it as a relative concept. The term South is fluid and evolving in literature. Lying at the centre of this is a key figure of cultural significance, Qu Yuan, whose persona and poetry together constitute the identity of the scholarly-official, particularly in the aggrieved role of the loyal dissident. Qu Yuan’s plaintive tone nevertheless became the defining feature of his work, thanks to the Han historian Sima Qian, who wove his own fate and voice into the group of wronged heroes he had included in his historical records. Later writers throughout medieval times identified with Qu Yuan to confirm their own purity and virtue. Prevalent references to the Southland and the ubiquitous adoption of the dissident persona gradually transform the Southland into synecdoche for the Chinese poetic tradition as a whole. In this chapter, the reader also finds summaries of all seven studies included in the volume.

Keywords:   Chu, Qu Yuan, Exile, the South, symbolism, Jiangnan

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