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A study of Bao Zhao and his poetry : with a complete English translation of his poems Chen, Robert Shanmu

Abstract

In Chinese literature the evaluation of Bao Zhao (409-466) of the Liu Song Dynasty has been an age-old controversy. Biographical accounts and literary criticisms on him are unable to avoid partiality, fragmentation, and insubstantiality. Thus this thesis intends to provide a substantial biographical account of Bao Zhao as a Scholar-official, to delineate the mentality of him as a poet and an intellectual, and to offer an integral account of his position in the history of Chinese literature. This thesis consists of a biographical study of Bao Zhao, a complete English translation of his poems, and an analytical study of his poetry. The complete translation is to provide spectrum of Bao Zhao's poetry for a better analytical perspective. After elaborating on various controversial issues of Bap Zhao's life, the biographical study asserts that contrary to the traditional view of him as a humble and insignificant official neglected by his contemporaries and discriminated against by historians, Bao Zhao was an imperial favorite courtier entrusted with power and authority throughout Emperor Xiaowu's reign, a popular belletrist, well-received by the elites of his time, and held in high esteem in the History of the Song Dynastv. The literary study confirms generic achievements of Bao Zhao as a great cultivator of Short Stanzas, Poems in Imitation, the Landscape Poems, Poems on Things and the Frontier Poems, an essential reviver and cultivator of Ballad Songs and Critical Realism, and an epitomizer of the Heptasy1labic Poems and Songs. It then delineates Bao Zhao's understanding of the vicissitudes of life, his conviction of the accessibility of Great Harmony under a wise ruler, his belief of one's responsibility to do his best in life, and his aspirations to serve the world. These engender in his allusive, metaphorical, and allegorical poems a group of heroic, indignant and critical sentiments, and a group of sincere, devoted, and transcendental pathos, the integration of which brings forth the characteristics of Bao Zhao's poetry. The thesis concludes by recognizing Bao Zhao as the most important poet of the Liu Song Dynasty and one of the major poets in the history of Chinese 1iterature.

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