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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Wen Jiweng of the Late Southern Song: The Man, His Life, and His Poem West Lake

Vol. 39 No. 1   3/2009    


Wen Jiweng of the Late Southern Song: The Man, His Life, and His Poem West Lake


Shuen-fu Lin









Key words

Wen Jiweng, poem of West Lake, Late Southern Song, cultural criticism    


    The poem West Lake, set to the tune of "Ho Hsin Lang" ("Congratulating the Bridegroom") and attributed to Wen Jiweng of the late Southern Song (1127-1279), has been read with admiration by critics and ordinary people alike throughout the centuries. However, this poem has never been thoroughly studied. This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive interpretation of this remarkable poem and its probable author`s career in order to fill this lacuna in scholarship. It begins with an examination of the poem`s composition and circulation as recorded in available manuscripts. It then extends to the investigation of the man Wen Jiweng: his career, his learning, and his extant writings. The third section of the paper presents a close reading of the poem with an eye to all of the historical allusions and the artistic features found in the text. The last section of the paper explores the theme of the fall of the Southern Song, caused by the relentless pursuit of pleasure among the elite and well-to-do urban dwellers. The expression of this theme as a prediction of the downfall of the dynasty has won Wen Jiweng a significant place in the history of Southern Song poetry and Chinese culture.



Author: Shuen-fu Lin
Genre: Article
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