Renjian cihua is a masterpiece of literary criticism written by Wang Guowei (1877–1927), a scholar of the Chinese classics who lived during the late Qing and early Republican periods. Since its publication in 1908 and 1909, it has been one of the most influential academic works in China. Elegantly written, Wang’s set of "remarks on ci poetry" (cihua) retains a traditional Chinese impressionistic critical approach, and can present difficulties to the common reader. This set of lectures by Florence Chia-ying Yeh explains the text to readers, making accessible Wang’s famous theory of jingjie ("aesthetic realm" or "artistic conception"), his views on how the ci differs from the shi genre of Chinese poetry, and his critical judgments of various famous ci poets from the Tang, Five Dynasties, and Song periods. The lectures are presented here in an English translation by Maija Bell Samei.
Table of Contents
Lecture 1 Wang Guowei, the Ci Genre, and the notion of Jingjie
Lecture 2 Distinctives of the Ci cenre, part I
Lecture 3 Layers of meaning in the Ci: double gender, double context
Lecture 4 Distinctives of the Ci genre, part II: major poets of the late Tang and Five Dynasties: Wen Tingyun and Wei Zhuang
Lecture 5 Major poets of the late Tang and Five Dynasties: Wen Tingyun and Feng Yansi
Lecture 6 Major poets of the Five Dynasties and Song: Li Yu, Liu Yong, and Su Shi
Lecture 7 Reflections on Ci aesthetics and Ci criticism
Appendix: Relevant passages from the Renjian cihua in Chinese
Florence Chia-ying Yeh is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a master scholar and teacher of traditional Chinese literature. Her major works include, in Chinese, Tang Song ci shiqi jiang (Seventeen lectures on the ci poetry of the Tang and Song dynasties), Xiao ci da ya (The great elegance of ci poetry), Du Fu "Qiu xing ba shou" ji shuo (Collected lectures on Du Fu’s eight "Autumn Meditations"); and in English, Studies in Chinese Poetry (with James Hightower).