A study of Zeng Guofan's anthology of eighteen poets
Date of Issue2017-08-22
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Anthology of Eighteen Poets (Shibajia Shichao 十八家诗钞) was compiled by Zeng Guofan (1811-1872), a famous politician and litterateur in Qing Dynasty. This anthology included 6599 traditional Chinese poems wrote by eighteen poets from Wei Dynasty (220-266) to Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). These poems varied in their forms from five-character lines to seven-character lines poems, from archaic to rhymed styles. This collection reflected the development of Chinese five-character and seven-character poems. This thesis aims at a comprehensive research on Anthology of Eighteen poets, including four chapters as below. Chapter 1：The methods and purports applied in compiling Anthology of Eighteen poets. Zeng Guofan used different methods in selecting poems of different periods: Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty and Jin Dynasty (represented by Yuan Haowen). The purports of Anthology of Eighteen poets can be illustrated in four aspects, namely: making an all-embracing selection but also with emphases on certain types; Outlining the history of poetry; adopting both Tang-Style and Song-Style poems; Cultivating aesthetic tastes. Chapter 2: The annotations of Anthology of Eighteen poets. Zeng Guofan had a good command in textology and exegesis. In Anthology of Eighteen poets, Zeng Guofan’s annotations on words and sentences figured out both historical allusions and the poets’ characteristics. What is more, Zeng Guofan compared different editions of anthologies and corrected some of the words and sentences. In the annotations to Du Fu’s poems, Zeng Guofan quoted Qian Qianyi’s Annotation of Du Fu’s poetry (Qian Zhu DuShi 钱注杜诗) which was once banned by the government in Qing Dynasty. It indicates the looser cultural environment in Late-Qing Dynasty and the rise of Han literati. Along with Qian Qianyi’s Annotation of Du Fu’s poems, Zeng Guofan quoted many works in ancient China. He cited various works in order to deal with different poems, including Confucian Classics, historical works, philosophical works, and literary works. This also reflected Zeng Guofan’s profound knowledge. Chapter 3: Anthology of Eighteen poets through the perspective of Tongcheng桐城 poetics. Zeng Guofan was reputed as the key person in the resurgence of Tong Cheng Poem School. This chapter analyzes Anthology of Eighteen poets in the the background of Tongcheng poetics developmental path, discussing Zeng Guofan’s inheritance in poetics of the early Tongcheng School, his contribution to the resurgence of Tongcheng poetics, and his influences to his student and literati of the late Tongcheng School. Chapter 4: Anthology of Eighteen poets and other poetic commentaries and anthologies in Qing Dynasty. Poetic commentaries and anthologies flourished in Qing Dynasty. In this chapter, Anthology of Eighteen poets is analyzed according to the poetic history of Qing Dynasty and compared to anthologies of Han, Wei, Six Dynasties, Tang, and Song Dynasties. Further on, Anthology of Eighteen poets has been compared thoroughly with Wang Kaiyun’s Anthology of Eight Dynasties (Badai Shixuan 八代诗选) and Imperial Anthology of poems of Tang and Song（Yuxuan Tangsong Shichun御选唐宋诗醇）. In the conclusion, the value and historical status of Anthology of Eighteen poets in Qing Dynasty has been discussed.