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Title: Condition of music and Anglophone influences in the poetry of Shao Xunmei
Author: Jin, Tian
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 5052
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2020
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Shao Xunmei (1906-1968), a Chinese poet, publisher and translator, has long been marginalized by contemporary criticism. His unique poetics, especially when it comes to the condition of music in poetry, remains largely unexamined. Shao aspires to reach the condition of music in poetry, which bears a resemblance to three Anglophone writers whom he applauds: Algernon Charles Swinburne, Edith Sitwell and George Augustus Moore. The thesis will examine how the three writers influenced Shao, and how the influences help shape Shao's idea of the condition of music in poetry. Swinburne's conception of harmony denotes the union of meaning and sound, which greatly influenced Shao. Both Shao and Swinburne consider nature as the perfect paradigm for harmony, and they both see the nightingale as the ideal symbol for harmony. Both poets like to merge Sappho and the nightingale in their poetic practices, and the merging of Sappho-the incarnation of poetry-and the nightingale-the ideal symbol for harmony-represents an idea that poetry could reach the condition of harmony, to which both Shao and Swinburne aspire. Sitwell puts forth the conception of poetry as "the sister of horticulture". She also comes up with a notion of texture as a state of interweave in the union of meaning and sound. Shao takes in the two conceptions and adds a twist of human physiology to them. Both Sitwell and Shao consider the flower as an incarnation of music. But Shao's flower symbol often has features that allude to female sexual organs, which presents an idiosyncratic union of flower-woman. Sexual consummation with the flower-woman seems to him a way that leads to the reproduction of music in poetry. Moore comes up with the notion of pure poetry, which requires the removal of the conception of the body in poetry. Shao assimilates this notion and attempts to reach pure poetry through replacing the dialectic of the body with the dialogic of voices. This replacement remedies the idiosyncrasy evident in Shao's poems influenced by Sitwell and frees the woman from being the instrumentalized other of "I". Moore's conception of pure poetry denotes an ideal, primordial unity of arts, in which music and poetry are one. However, Shao realizes this state could only be approached indefinitely and never be reached ontologically. Poetry and music, or poetry and other art forms, would always be in a dialogic process with no definite closure. The strategy that he comes up with is to play with the traversing between unity and diversity, that is, between pure poetry and poetry/music.
Supervisor: Dayan, Peter ; Rosenmeier, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Chinese literature ; Shao Xunmei ; Algernon Charles Swinburne ; Edith Sitwell ; George Augustus Moore ; symbols ; words and music