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An interpolation in Zhong Hong's Shipin.

No part of Zhong Hong's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (469-518) Shipin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Grading of Poets) has attracted more controversy than the entry on Tao Qian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (365?-427). Since at least the Song dynasty, Zhong has been lambasted for placing Tao too low, merely in the middle rank and not the top where he supposedly belonged. His defenders have replied either by claiming that the received text is corrupt and that Tao originally appeared in the first rank or by rejecting the criticism as anachronistic and reflective only of later standards of taste. The first defense has proven unconvincing; despite some ambiguous evidence it seems certain that Tao was indeed in the middle rank. Both sides of the debate, indeed almost all commentators on Shipin, have shared an important assumption: that the entry represents the text as Zhong Hong wrote it. My purpose in this note is to question this assumption, in particular to claim that the final sentence of the entry is anomalous and, at least in its current form, unlikely to have been in the original text. A 1980 article by Li Wenchu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] raised the first objections to this line, though Li's critique was soon dismissed by Cao Xu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], editor of a now-standard edition of Shipin. (1) I will add further evidence to Li's and argue that the line, even if it is not an interpolation, at least raises interesting questions about the interpretation of Tao's entry and Shipin in general. The entry reads as follows:
 [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
 Tao Qian, Summoned Scholar of Song
 [His poems'] source is in Ying Qu (190-252), drawing also on the
 emotive power of Zuo Si (253?--307?). Their style is spare and almost
 never wordy. His thoughts are sincere and archaic and his verbal
 expressions congenial, so each perusal of his writings brings to mind
 his personal virtue. All the world exclaims upon his stolid
 straightforwardness, [but] could such lines as "in merry delight,
 buzzed on spring wine" and "at sundown, the sky is free of clouds,"
 with their florid style and extravagant clarity, be the words of a
 mere farmer? He is the ancestor of recluse-poets, ancient and
 modern. (2)


The notice is among the longer ones in Shipin, since in addition to recounting Tao's literary filiation and summarizing the qualities of his verse it also describes his character and quotes from his poetry. It is the last sentence that is of interest. A close examination in the context of Shipin and its time reveals a number of anomalies for which the most economical explanation is that this line was not in the original text.

The first objection is stylistic. The final sentence is in the noun predicate form (marked by ye [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], roughly equivalent to a copula), with Tao Qian as its implied topic. No other entry in Shipin ends this way, with a sentence whose unspecified first term is the poet in question and that equates him or her with a descriptive noun phrase. By contrast, the rhetorical question that precedes, which rejects the notion that Tao was a mere farmstead writer, is a typical conclusion, following a pattern shared with several Shipin entries. Nothing connects the final sentence to the remainder of the entry grammatically, nor is the shift in subject (from poetry to person) at all marked. While Zhong Hong does frequently switch silently between the two topics, a motion explicitly justified here (since the works remind one of the author), this transition is especially striking since the entry moves from the writings to the writer, again to the poetry, then back once more to the poet.

Not only is the closing sentence syntactically atypical of Shipin, it is unusual in terms of one of the fundamental themes of the work as a whole, the delineation of literary influence. The connections Zhong draws in the first line of the entry are representative of his usual approach: a poet is linked to earlier sources who are either named authors (here, Ying Qu and Zuo Si) or closed textual corpora such as sections of Shijing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Poetry Classic) or Chuci [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Songs of Chu). This phrase breaks with the pattern in two ways. First, the influence is mentioned here under the rubric of the agent, not the object, of influence. None of the entries on early poets refer forward to the individuals on whom Zhong Hong claims they exerted influence; that function is only described in the passage on the later writer. (3) In other words, such connections in Shipin are framed retrospectively and never, with this one exception, prospectively. Second, Tao Qian is vaguely qualified as the ancestor of a whole class not mentioned elsewhere in Shipin: no other poet is listed as a descendant of Tao or labeled a recluse. Zhong typically links poets together by naming them, not by grouping them into schools or trends like this loose category of "recluse-poets." Moreover, the connections he does establish are based on style of writing and not of life. Such a tie between Tao and his predecessor Ying Ju is plain from the similar language Zhong uses in describing the two men's poems. (4) The label "recluse" does not establish any such links.

If Zhong believed in a lineage of recluse-poets he never defined its historical basis. Labeling Tao zong [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("ancestor") would suggest that he begat recluse poetry, making him the "ancient" and some unspecified others the "moderns." Yet as Li Wenchu points out, Zhong was writing less than a century after Tao, who could thus hardly be called "ancient." Nor are any of Tao's supposed followers named by Zhong. Li notes that no historical figure other than Tao is identified as a recluse-poet in Shipin and shows that while dynastic histories list many recluses in this period few were poets, fewer still made it into Shipin, and none is cited for eremitic qualities. (5) If Zhong Hong did conceive of such a process, it is striking that it makes no other appearance in Shipin. Cao Xu has replied that both gujin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("ancient and modern") and zong are vague concepts, citing a range of uses of these terms in Shipin. But no other example of gujin (or its reversed form jingu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) concretely situates the poet in a chronological context, rather the expression refers to all of history as a basis for comparison or contrast (for example, gujin nanbi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "hard to find an equal, past or present," and jingu dubu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "without peer, present or past"). (6) Similarly, the other instances of zong refer to a lineage or tradition, never to its founder. For example, Zhong Hong says of Zhang Xintai [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (456-501) and Fan Zhen [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (450-510) that they "did not lose hold of the tradition of the Elegantiae [section of the Poetry Classic]" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and in his preface to the middle rank refers to zongliu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "currents of tradition." (7) Read in light of these passages, the sentence on Tao could be seen as placing him within, rather than at the head of, a tradition of poetic recluses with "ancient" predecessors. In that case, however, it is all the more puzzling that no earlier writer is mentioned as part of such a group. Moreover, if zong refers to the lineage and not its patriarch, then the subject of the sentence cannot be Tao himself. The most satisfactory reading of zong may be as a metaphorical, rather than chronological, patriarch. (8) Tao would then be a "paragon of recluse-poets of all time."

In any case, this lineage remains as hidden as its name suggests. Neither poet named as a source for Tao was especially eremitic, nor do the entries on other poets known for rejecting society hint at such a line of transmission. Cao Xu notes that a few poets in the century before Shipin, such as Bao Zhao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (414-466) and Jiang Yan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (444-505), wrote initiations of Tao's verse, including his so-called farmstead poems, so there was in fact a history of appreciating Tao's rustic qualities. (9) There is no evidence, however, that Zhong Hong valued this tradition. Rather, I take the logic of the entry as arguing the opposite, as defending Tao Qian against charges of being merely a rural recluse. "All the world" oohs and ahs over his "stolid and straightforward" poetry, seeing it as the work of a simple farmer, (10) but Zhong cites by way of refutation two lines that prove Tao to have been capable of florid and ornate wording, a desirable quality from Zhong's point of view. The passage ends there with nice rhetorical closure. The tacked-on final line reopens the issue, taking the side of those against whom Zhong had just argued. If he did intend to laud Tao as a great recluse-poet, he set the assertion up very poorly.

A final piece of evidence comes from what might seem the most innocuous word in the passage: "poet." Whoever added this line to Shipin tipped his chronological hand by calling Tao a shiren [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which ever since the Tang has had the unproblematic meaning of "poet" but in Zhong Hong's time did not have this sense. This pair of characters appears three times in Shipin: here, in the preface, and in the entry on Ying Qu (the predecessor of Tao). (11) In the other two occurrences its unambiguous referent is a specific group of poets, those who composed the songs of the Poetry Classic. This was not just the primary meaning of the binome at Zhong Hong's time; it is the only meaning it had, so far as surviving texts reveal. I have found no other pre-Tang text in which shiren refers to post-Classic poets. (12) The exception that proves the rule is Donglin shiba gaoxian zhuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Biographies of eighteen lofty worthies of the Eastern Grove). There too Tao is called shiren, but this book is a forgery of the mid-ninth century, so by then shiren as "poet" had become so familiar that its use in a pseudo-Six Dynasties text was no glaring anachronism. (13) The word shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] had evolved, starting in the Han, from referring almost exclusively to the canonical songs to including the verse of later writers, but the meaning of shiren lagged until the Tang, when it became a standard term for a versifier. Even in works whose principal focus is non-canonical literature, such as Liu Xie's Wenxin diaolong, shiren refers exclusively to the canonical poets. The use of this label in Shipin thus gives the interpolation away. (14)

Can we salvage a plausible reading of the line? The synchronistic sense of shiren as canonical poet would lead to an interpretation of zong as a lineage with the Classic at its root and Tao as an epigone, but there is nothing in Shipin to recommend a particular association between Shijing and recluses. Another approach would follow the variant text in the tenth-century encyclopedia Taiping yulan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which lacks ren after shi. (15) The terminological anachronism disappears, but little more is gained. Either Tao would be "the paragon of recluse poetry, ancient and modern" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or, less plausibly, his work would constitute "the lineage of recluse poetry, ancient and modern." All the problems with fitting the line into the passage and the work as a whole remain, however, and if "recluse-poets" are problematic "recluse poetry" as a category within Shipin is yet more poorly defined.

In conclusion, I have argued that the line in question fits poorly with the rhetorical and syntactic structure of Shipin and frames Tao Qian within literary history in a manner atypical of the rest of the work and using anachronistic language. The early history of Shipin is too murky to permit firm conclusions about when or how these words might have been added to the text, though Li Wenchu's speculation that they represent a reader's comment accidentally copied into the body of the work is plausible. I have found no citation of the passage that quotes the preceding lines but leaves out the last, so it must have been in place by the early Song. The use of the word shiren, I believe, militates in favor of a terminus non ante quem in the Tang; further research may allow more precision.

My arguments are not incontestable, but a reply to each would say something interesting. If, exceptionally, Zhong Hong described Tao's place in literary history prospectively rather than retrospectively, why? If Zhong conceived of a lineage of recluse-poets, with Tao as part of it, who are the others and what connects them? And if this is the first recorded use of shiren for a "modern" poet, why by Zhong and why of Tao? Conversely, if this line is an interpolation, will a fresh examination of all of Shipin reveal more of them, and if so what might their source and motivation be? In this instance, the addition could have resulted from a slip of the brush by a copyist who mistook an annotation for the main text. Or it may have been an intentional act, a first step toward rectifying a perceived deficiency and the later consensus that Shipin profoundly undervalues Tao's poetry.

(1.) Li Wenchu, "Du 'Shipin, Song Zhengshi Tao Qian' zhaji" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Wenyi lilun yanjiu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1980.2: 123-28; Cao Xu, "Shipin ping Tao shi fawei" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Fudan xuebao (shehui-kexue ban) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1988.5: 60-64, 70.

(2.) Shipin jizhu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. Cao Xu (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1994), 260. I have referred to several translations: Takagi Masakazu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed., Sho Ko Shihin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Tokyo: Tokai daigaku shuppankai, 1978), 251-58; John Timothy Wixted, "The Nature of Evaluation in the Shih-p'in (Gradings of Poets) by Chung Hung (A.D. 498-518)," in Theories of the Arts in China, ed. Susan Bush and Christian Murck (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1983), 244-45; Bernhard Fuhrer, Chinas erste Poetik: Das Shipin (Kriterion Poietikon) des Zhong Hong (Dortmund: Projekt Verlag, 1995), 324-29; Wendy Swartz, Reading Tao Yuanming: Shifting Paradigms of Historical Reception (427-1900) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Asia Center, 2008), 152.

(3.) For a discussion of comparisons see Wixted, "Evaluations in the Shih-p' in," 234ff.

(4.) Several keywords from the account of Ying Qu's poetry recur in that of Tao's: gu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("archaic"), yi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("thoughts"), du [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("sincere"), hua [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("florid"), and mi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("extravagant"), Shipin jizhu, 231.

(5.) Li, "Du Shipin," 125-26.

(6.) Cao, "Shipin," 63-64.

(7.) Shipin jizhu, 192,465.

(8.) A good example of this usage comes in a letter by Wu Zhi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (177-230) that speaks of its addressee, Cao Zhi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (192-232), as "truly a paragon of rhapsody and laude, and instructor to all who write" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Cao Zhi was not the inventor of either genre, but given the parallel with shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("instructor") the zong must be him, not his work. Wu, "Da Dong'e Wang shu" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Quan shanggu Sandai Qin Han Sanguo Liuchao wen [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. Yan Kejun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1965), Quan Sanguo wen [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 30.10a. The letter dates from 229 or 230. My thanks to Paul W. Kroll for suggesting this interpretation.

(9.) Cao, "Shipin," 64.

(10.) I follow Wixted in reading shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("the world") as a pejorative term for contemporary opinion. Cf. the description of Tang Huixiu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (5th c.): "So the world pits him against Bao Zhao, but they perhaps are like Shang and Zhou" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Shang and Zhou are disparate entities that cannot fruitfully be compared. Shipin jizhu, 421, 425 n. 7.

(11.) Shipin jizhu, 11, 231.

(12.) Based on searches of the following databases: CHANT (Chinese Ancient Texts), www.chant.org; pre-Tang portions of Guoxue baodian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], www.gxbd.com; pre-Tang dynastic histories in Scripta Sinica, Academia Sinica, www.sinica.edu.tw/~tdbproj/handy1/. Searches performed January 24, 2009.

Dictionaries disagree on when the term began to refer to non-classical poets. Hanyu dacidian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] cites a famous line from Yang Xiong's [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (53 B.C.E.--18 C.E.) Fayan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: "The poets' expositions are measured in their beauty; the rhapsodists' expositions are excessive in their beauty" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. This line is often quoted without its context; rhapsodists (ciren [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) are writers who are named in an earlier question posed to Yang Xiong and contrasted with the writers of the classical poems. Here fu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("exposition") refers to the narrative poetic mode (by contrast with more imagistic xing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and bi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) as well as to the prose-poem genre. Hanyu dacidian, s.v. "shiren." Liu Xie [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (465-522) reworked this phrase in chapter 46 ("Wuse" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of his Wenxin diaolong [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], where it is clear that shiren are the authors of the Classic.

Dai Kan-Wu jiten [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] gives the definition "A person who writes poetry capturing the ideas of the Airs and Elegantiae." Four texts are cited: the above Fayan passage, two texts in which a Shijing poem is quoted directly (hence shiren must be canonical authors), and the Han shu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] biography of Sima Xiangru [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (180?--117 B.C.E.), in which the moral value of Sima's work is likened to the remonstrations of shiren, who must once again be canonical poets. The dictionary's first citation for the sense of "a person skilled at poetry; a person famous for poetry" is from Xin Tangshu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Dai Kan-Wa jiten, rev. ed., s.v., "shijin."

(13.) Tao is mentioned as one of those not inducted into the probably fictitious White Lotus Society. Donglin shiba gaoxian zhuan, attrib., Huiyuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (334-416), in Xu Zangjing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], no. 1543, 78:120b. See Tang Yongtong [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Han Wei Jin Nanbeichao fojiao shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 1997), 258-61. cited in Xiaofei Tian, Tao Yuanming and Manuscript Culture: The Record of a Dusty Table (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 2005), 244 n. 60.

(14.) Zhong Hong used another word, ciren [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("versifier"), for recent writers he discusses. For examples see Shipin jizhu, 54, 192. Zhong also refers to fengren [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("songsmiths") and zuozhe [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("writers"). Liu Xie likewise called recent writers ciren (in the form [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).

(15.) Taiping yulan, ed. Li Fang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (925-996) et al. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju. 1998 [1960]), 586.3b.

BRUCE RUSK

CORNELL UNIVERSITY
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Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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