Matthew Fraleigh - Assistant Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture, Brandeis University
The Six Dynasties poet Tao Yuanming is today remembered as a paradigmatic recluse, a man fond of drinking and simple agrarian pleasures, but also one who eschewed public service to maintain his personal integrity and to fulfill his loyalty to the declining Jin dynasty. Recent work by Tian Xiaofei, Wendy Swartz, and others has shed light on the ways in which this image came to be constructed, recuperating alternative visions of the canonical figure. Yet Tao Yuanming loomed large in the broader East Asian literary context as well, where he was subject to similarly multifarious readings and invocations into modern times. This paper focuses on two nineteenth-century Japanese kanshi poets’ engagements with Tao Yuanming, showing how a classical Chinese literary persona constituted a referential repository to be shaped, shifted, and variously spun to meet emerging circumstances.