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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The high T’ang poet Meng Hao-jan : studies in biography and textual history Bryant, Daniel Joseph


The dissertation consists of two distinct parts. Part I is a study of the text of Meng Hao-jan's collected works. All available editions (32) were collated in full, along with the text of his poems as they appear in thirteen T'ang and Sung dynasty anthologies. The editions are divided into six 'systems' or families, and all texts are further classified as either significant or 'eliminandi'. Two filiation diagrams are presented, one showing in detail the derivation of the eliminandi from the significant texts, and a second showing a tentative filiation of the significant texts themselves. The bulk of Part I consists of a full description of each of the individual texts and of the poems found in anthologies. In the case of the eliminandi, this description lists the peculiar variants and demonstrates the derivation of the text from its antecedents). The significant texts are described less fully, since only further research will determine more exactly their interrelationships. Among the conclusions of Part I are the following: (a) the best single edition is probably that of Ku Tao-hung, published in 1576; (b) the edition published by Mao Chin is useful, but marred by confusion and careless errors in its apparatus; (c) the 'Sung' edition reprinted by T'ao Hsiang in 1935 is significant, but is too full of demonstrably erroneous readings to be relied upon exclusively; (d) the source for the text of Meng's works in the "Complete T'ang Poems" was a manuscript compendium, whose source, in turn, was the "T'ang Shih Chi" compiled by Wu Kuan during the Ming dynasty; (e) the apparatus contained in Hsiao Chi-tsung's "Meng Hao-jan Shih Shuo" is highly unreliable, since it is based in large part on that found in a Japanese edition of 1900, rather than on the collation of five old editions that Hsiao claims to have consulted. Part II is an attempt to reconstruct Meng Hao-jan's biography. It is shown that the standard sources for his life, the biographies in the Chiu T'ang Shu and Hsin T'ang Shu and the Preface to his poems by Wang Shih-yuan, are misleading and incomplete in many ways. The fuller biography outlined here is based on a detailed analysis of the biographical material found in Meng's poems, writings by his contemporaries, and historical sources of various kinds. These materials show that Meng Hao-jan visited Lo-yang in 718, and both Ch'ang-an and Lo-yang during the years 724-725. From 725 to 728 he travelled extensively in what is now Chekiang, in southeast China. He returned to Ch'ang-an late in 731, probably as a candidate for the chin-shih degree. After failing to pass the examination or to obtain a post in the civil service, Meng returned home to Hsiang-yang in 732 after a stay of some months in Lo-yang. He left Hsiang-yang in 736 and travelled in the Yangtse valley until late in 737, when the poet Chang Chiu-ling, a former Chief Minister then in disgrace, summoned him to Chiang-ling. He stayed only a short while with Chang, and then returned to Hsiang-yang early in 738, after further travels in central China. He died at home in 740. Appended to the dissertation are four appendices: (a) an extensively annotated translation of the Prefaces to Meng's works by Wang Shih-yuan and Wei T'ao; (b) a translation of all of Meng's poems except those quoted in full in the dissertation proper; (c) translations and discussion of three fragments and eleven spurious or doubtful works; (d) a finding list.

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