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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The poetry of Ts'ao Chih : a critical introduction Russell, Terence Craig


The form which this thesis has taken is rather different from what I had originally envisioned. It contains far more discussion of literary style and far less translation than I had planned to include. This is both a virtue.- and a shortcoming. Certainly it has been much more. Interesting to have attempted an analysis of some of the literary forces which molded and characterized the poetry of Ts'ao Chih and the Chien An writers than it would have been simply to have translated a large number of their works. I have made many fascinating discoveries and the reader will surely find more substance to occupy his attention. However, it is difficult to avoid feeling that to try to analyse and criticise poetry which one has the greatest difficulty even reading, and which is the product of a literary tradition as remote as that of third century China, is very presumptuous. After all, if as accomplished and mature a scholar as Professor Donald Holzman would decline to engage in just this type of discussion on the grounds that he felt it so difficult as to 'actually defeat its own purpose' how could I hope for any kind of success? Nevertheless, as mentioned, I have learned much through the preparation of this work and generally don't regret my presumption. It is perhaps only necessary to forewarn the reader that many of the statements made herein are of a tentative and speculative nature and are not in any respect the last word on the subject. Yet if these speculations lead the reader to a slightly deeper appreciation of certain facets of the fine poetry of Ts'ao Chih, or even if they only stimulate him to seek such appreciation on his own, then I will consider that my work has not been completely in vain. I have placed my translations of Ts'ao Chih's poems at the end of the thesis. This is only because, that seemed to be the only logical place to put them. It does not indicate that I consider them to form merely a kind of appendix which the reader may refer to for his own convenience. On the contrary, I have spent a great deal of time in preparing these translations and would like to think that they are a significant improvement over those previously available. Thus they represent perhaps, an even greater 'contribution to knowledge' than does the main body of my text. In my translations I have followed Huang Chieh's text except where otherwise indicated. Wherever possible I have recorded variant wordings but, due to a lack of library resources and personal interest, I have not attempted to indulge in extensive textual commentary. I have striven to present translations that are both accurate and fulfil the axiom that a translation must be good poetry in its own right in order to be successful. I have used the modified Wade-Giles system of romanization found in the Mathews' Chinese English Dictionary throughout. To this system I have made a few minor modifications of my own but these should be quite self-evident.

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