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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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Plaint, Lyricism, and the South

Plaint, Lyricism, and the South

(p.79) 4 Plaint, Lyricism, and the South
Southern Identity and Southern Estrangement in Medieval Chinese Poetry

Ping Wang

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter examines the female counterpart of Qu Yuan as mentioned in the important sixth century poetic treatise Shi pin, and argues that it is an amalgam of a number of loyal yet mistreated women behind the Han throne. Lady Ban (Ban jieyu) and Wang Zhaojun, both a “Han concubine” in some sense, are particularly noted for their dissident voices. They are but two out of a set of stereotyped figures of female plaint, all associated with some kind of exile or bereavement. These various figures were all constructed, perhaps, deliberately, by the Ban family, in particular by Ban Gu through his compilation of the Han shu. There is a striking parallel here to Sima Qian’s role in editing the biography of Qu Yuan. This chapter reveals a tradition in the making, a tradition that builds throughout out the heritage of Chu songs and the mythology of Qu Yuan.

Keywords:   Wang Zhaojun, Lady Ban, plaint, Ban Gu, lyricism, Chu

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