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Naming and Meaning in the Landscape Essays of Yuan Jie and Liu Zongyuan.

Yuan Jie and Liu Zongyuan are two of the most famous landscape essayists of the Tang period. Several of their essays revolve around places that they named themselves. Against the formal and thematic conventions of "social" and "personal" landscape essays, the present study compares the relatively stable relationship between physical and moral worlds in Yuan's essays with the tension prevailing between place naming and moral meaning in Liu's essays. The differences between the two writers, in this regard, are explained in terms of their political status and their psychological state as they encounter and write about the landscape.


a gentleman fond of names (xi ming zhi shi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Whatever he did, he was afraid of not being able to distinguish himself from others. He was also afraid that what he wrote about himself for posterity would not be extraordinary enough to be striking. That can be seen in his diction. It is true that gentlemen since antiquity had been ashamed of being unknown, but no one was so anxious. [1]

Ouyang Xiu's comment points to two interrelated issues that I shall explore in this study: the reason why Yuan Jie "would always himself name the scenic spots where he lived" was, as Ouyang Xiu noted, "his anxiousness for his posthumous fame." [2] Place naming in Yuan lie's writings is a means whereby he imprints his personality indelibly on the landscape, to be admired by future generations. This intricate nexus of interest in names and anxiousness for fame is also evident in Liu Zongyuan's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (773-819) landscape essays. The present study, however, is not an exercise in tracing literary genealogy or influence. [3] Instead, it compares the process of place naming in the two essayists in order to highlight aspects of the function and meaning of place naming in Tang prose descriptions of landscape.

I use the term "landscape essay" broadly to refer to prose writings wherein descriptions of natural scenery are structurally and thematically indispensable, as can be found not only in records of excursion (youji [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] but also in such diverse genres as inscriptions (ming [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and prefaces (xu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). For heuristic purposes, I divide the landscape essays of Yuan Jie and Liu Zongyuan into those that are occasioned by the authors' visits to some newly completed landmarks, such as a pavilion, and those that are prompted by their exploration of certain hitherto unknown and unappreciated scenery. I will call the former "social" landscape essays and the latter "personal" landscape essays. Each type has its own conventions. In Yuan Jie's social and personal landscape essays, the naming of places is predicated on a stable and readable relationship between the physical and the moral worlds. Wit h Liu Zongyuan, especially in his personal landscape essays, the relationship between place naming and moral meaning is fraught with tension, owing primarily to his conflicting sentiments of resentment and regret over his political failure and secondarily to the unpredictable and uncontrollable forces released by his overindulgence in the rhetoric of nameplay. Consequently, Yuan Jie always speaks with a tone of authority, while Liu Zongyuan frequently falters in ambiguities. These ambiguities are not resolved until Liu Zongyuan finds a way out of his moral dilemma and overcomes excessive feelings of self-pity and self-righteousness in his landscape experience.

Until recently, the significance of place naming has received little serious treatment in the scholarship on Chinese landscape essays. [4] One of the first to deal with the topic is Richard E. Strassberg, in his study on travel writing from imperial China. [5] Strassberg maintains that the Confucian concern with the correspondence between "name" (ming [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and "reality" (shi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] lies at the heart of the literary inscription of landscapes. Against the background of the Confucian ideology that sees naming "as a core [concern] of the ruling class, who would employ the classical language to recover the moral structure of the golden age of the sage-kings," Strassberg observes that "the travel writer as a Noble Man [junzi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] rectifying names is a persona that appears in a number of texts, particularly the subgenre of the 'valedictory travel account."'[6] More specifically, we may observe her e that the act of naming in the landscape essays of Yuan Jie and Liu Zongyuan is motivated directly by their concerns with personal fame, though these concerns are sometimes framed in the grandiose rhetoric of establishing or restoring a greater moral order.

Strassberg sees in Yuan Jie's "Creek on the Right Side" ("Youxi ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the beginning of a frequent pattern in Chinese travel writing, i.e., "the encounter of a traveler with a hitherto undiscovered or unappreciated scene, followed by his lyrical responses to it, and, finally, his appropriate naming of it." [7] He further notes in this connection that, in several of Yuan Jie's works, the naming of the place is one of the devices for "the assertion of the quality of the writer's self through appropriation of a scene." [8] Such assertion, we may add, is in turn a means of perpetuating the writer's name and fame. What Strass-berg has hinted at but not specified clearly is the distinction between "social" and "personal" landscape essays. As I hope to show, the naming of places in the landscape essays by Yuan Jie and Liu Zongyuan is executed through different literary and social conventions and assumes different thematic and psychological functions in these two categories.

The most prominent convention of the social landscape essay is its panegyric or valedictory tone. Etiquette for interaction in polite society dictates that scenic descriptions be buttressed with an admiring reference to the administrative and moral accomplishments of the person responsible for the erection of the landmark. The naming of the landmark--a visit to which occasions the composition in the first place--functions as a rhetorical mechanism combining topographical descriptions and moral discourse. This combination can be exemplified with Yuan Jie's "Record of Extraordinary Pavilion" ("Shuting ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]):

In the middle of the year guimao [763], Ma Xiang, Lord of Fufeng, also governed in Wuchang. He held to the principles of forthrightness, faithfulness, seriousness, decisiveness, benevolence, and fairness. Consequently, he succeeded in carrying out his duties in no time. How true it is that forthrightness without faithfulness, seriousness without decisiveness, or benevolence without fairness would not have been sufficient for one to govern oneself, not to mention governing others! Lord Ma was capable of making the people hold to such principles with the result that he was able to have much leisure. As I disliked hot weather, he invited me over and built a pavilion for enjoying coolness. Facing the Great River, the pavilion was located up on the mountain, where excellent trees shaded each other and where clear breezes blew constantly. I wandered back and forth for prospects and was never tired of distant views. I saw that Lord Ma had extraordinary talent, [an] extraordinary administration, and [performed] extra ordinary deeds. Furthermore, the pavilion he built was also extraordinary. Accordingly, I named it "Extraordinary Pavilion." I have had the above record chiseled on a stone and set alongside the pavilion so that future visitors will not feel puzzled. [9]

For all its brevity, this record typifies the basic quadripartite structure of a social landscape essay: the narration of the building the landmark, the description of the view from the spot (however sparse it may be in this particular piece), the moral discourse deduced from, or added to, the view, and a short conclusion in which the author generally states either the time, or the circumstances, or the purpose for his writing. The main body of this quadripartite structure binds scenic description and moral reflection. [10] Here, place naming plays a pivotal role, since the word "extraordinary" designates appropriately both the topographical feature of the area and the moral character of the person who built the pavilion. Also typical of social landscape essays here is the intention professed in commemorating the pavilion, i.e., to monumentalize for the benefit of future generations the moral lessons derived from, and associated with, the place. As in many other instances, Yuan Jie's writing is physically ins cribed on a stone. [11]

In the structural model established by Yuan Jie for social landscape essays, the naming of a place smoothes and crystallizes the transition from natural description to moral reflection. [12] Liu Zongyuan's writings in this category evince an unmistakable similarity, though not necessarily direct indebtedness, to those of Yuan Jie. Liu Zongyuan's "Record of Pavilion of Ten Thousand Rocks [or "Piculs"--see below] of Vice-Director Cui in Yongzhou" ("Yongzhou Gui Zhongchen Wanshiting ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is especially noteworthy for its elaboration of the place name. The whole piece follows the quadripartite structure that we have seen above, though Liu Zongyuan's prose progresses with more twists and turns as it zigzags through narration, description, and exposition. [13]

Lord Gui of Qinghe, [formerly] Vice-Director of the Censorate, arrived to govern as prefect of Yongzhou. On a day of leisure, he ascended the northern city wall. Seeing some wondrous rocks jutting out from among thick vegetation on the wild fields, he assumed that there must be extraordinary scenery below. He walked from the western city gate to find out about the desolate place. Cutting down the bamboo and pushing open the brush, he forced his way through. All around the vast river and the extending stream, huge rocks stood in great numbers like trees in a forest: they looked as expansive as galloping clouds, as entwined as chess pieces in position, as angry as fighting tigers, and as lofty as soaring birds. When he dug into their grottoes, it seemed as though noses and mouths opened before him; when he searched their roots, there seemed to be hooves and legs confronting each other. They looked around in excitement, as if fighting and biting. Thereupon he scraped away and cleaned up the dirt, cut down and b urned the decayed wood. He opened up ditches and channeled away stagnant water. As a result, the woods were trimmed sparse and the water was made into a limpid flowing pond. The woods were so open and the pond so clear that it seemed as if the Creator-of-Things had separated the clear and the turbid and offered a marvel at this place, which could not have been achieved through human effort. Thereupon Lord Cui erected a pavilion as a resting place right in the middle of it. West of the upright pavilion, the rocks cracked open like arms pulled away from the body, forming quite a view in the distance. Above the pavilion, extremely steep dark-green precipices sank into the pond, whose depth could not be fathomed. If one looked up from below, they appeared to merge and extend with the endless mountain ranges.

The next day, a crowd of elders of the prefecture came along and said: "We were born in this prefecture and have tilled the land until our eyebrows have turned gray and our teeth have fallen out, but we have never known of this place. Isn't this a divine arrangement dropped on us from heaven and offered to us by earth to demonstrate the virtues of our lord?" After congratulating him, they entreated him to name the pavilion. Lord Cui said: "The number of rocks here cannot be counted. Because of their multitudinousness, I will name this 'Pavilion of Ten Thousand Rocks'," The elders then said: "How excellent is our lord's naming of the pavilion! Surely, the name is not just to describe the rocks (shi)! Our lord has held the post [with a salary] of two thousand piculs (shi) [of grain] six times. The amount [of his remuneration] has already exceeded ten thousand. However, those who have attained the Way all regret that the excellent achievement of our lord has not yet been made widely known to the people. Allow u s to sing a beautiful song in your praise to brilliant gods:

The Three Ministers of Han

Were entitled to ten thousand piculs.

The virtues of our lord

Are appropriate for the same entitlement.

The Han had loyal ministers;

They were none but the lords of ten thousand piculs.

The transforming power of our lord

Starts from outside the city gate.

His way accords with antiquity;

His blessing comes from Heaven.

We rustics dedicate these words

To wishing our lord a life of ten thousand years."

I, Zongyuan, had once been a drafter in the Council of State Affairs, so I took it upon myself to describe in detail what had happened at Lingling, on this fifth day of the first month of the tenth year of the Yuanhe reign. [14]

While structurally resembling the quadripartite format discernible in Yuan Jie's "Record of Extraordinary Pavilion," Liu Zongyuan's record is different with regard to the process through which the place-name is brought into existence and endowed with moral significance. Yuan Jie's piece is unified by a single perspective: he narrates, he describes, he names, and he moralizes. His authorial and authoritative voice enunciates an unequivocal moral message. In Liu Zongyuan's record, on the other hand, we hear three different voices, each assuming a somewhat different function.

Lord Cui, the nominal protagonist, is the most reticent or the least eloquent. In the face of Lord Cui's display of modesty, the elders prove themselves to be rather witty and quick-minded as they uncover and elaborate the meaning of the word shi in its double sense of "rock" and "picul."

Here one finds yet another difference between the voice of the elders and that of Liu Zongyuan. Now, the process of building the pavilion and the perspective on it are ostensibly presented from the point-of-view of Lord Cui, but the speaking voice is distinctly that of Liu Zongyuan, and it is this voice that initially refers to the Creator-of-Things (zaowu zhe [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) as a way of reinforcing a sense of wonder at the beauty of the area surrounding the pavilion after it has been "transformed." Liu Zongyuan's silence on the purpose of the Creator-of-Things in "offering a marvel at this place" is meaningfully set against the eloquence of the elders in deciphering the enigma of the marvel as a divine demonstration of "the virtues of our lord."

Despite Liu Zongyuan's philosophical disbelief in a purposeful deity, references to the Creator-of-Things in his social landscape essays constitute a handy means for praising the talent and achievement of the officials with whom he had to interact on social occasions. [15] For example, when his admiration of the natural scenery reaches its climax in "Record of the Pavilion on the Islet of the Zi Family Built by Vice-Director Pei of Guizhou" ("Guizhou Pei Zhongchen zuo Zijia zhoutingji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), Liu Zongyuan exclaims, "Alas! The works of the Creator-of-Things have been here for a long time, but not until today are we able to have a panoramic view of them. How can they not be recorded!" (LZYJ, 727). He Zhuo has criticized this particular piece for its lack of "verve" (shengqi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) because its conventional descriptions do not reveal the author's immediate perceptual experience. [16] From our perspective, the conventional sentimen t expressed by Liu Zongyuan illustrates all the more persuasively that his reference to the Creator-of-Things functions as a stock-in-trade in his social landscape essays.

The act of naming entails exercising a certain form of authority. Living in a time out of joint, Confucius, in his concern with the rectification of names (zhengming [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in the realm of social, political, and ritual institutions, was eager to bring ancient standards of behavior to bear on, so as to guide, contemporary society. [17] His qualification as a would-be rectifier of names was his profound knowledge of, and spiritual immersion in, antiquity as a moral ideal. The act of naming a geographical place (rather than rectifying the names of institutions) is driven by a somewhat different motivation. As Strassberg puts it, the function of place naming in the earliest records of imperial travel was "to document heroic achievements in ordering the political, spiritual, and material dimensions of the world and to provide a guide for later rulers." [18] In other words, the Confucian rectification of names looked to the past for moral restoration, whereas place naming i n the records of imperial tours looked to extending and perpetuating the present into the future. Strassberg mentions in this connection an instance from the earliest extant travel record, The Chronicle of Mu, Son of Heaven (Mu Tianzi zhuan[CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Here, as so often in later Tang landscape essays, place naming occurs in conjunction with inscribing the landscape. After visiting the Queen Mother of the West and banqueting at the Jade Pond, "The Son-of-Heaven rode up to the Hsi Mountains where he engraved a record of his journey into the rock and planted a huai-tree, naming the place 'Mountain of the Queen Mother of the West.'" [19] "In the ritual tours of emperors documented in the dynastic histories," Strassberg also writes, "such inscriptions enunciated praise of sagely rule, projecting the ruler's extension of his authority and signifying his possession of the world. Their ideological function was to project domination, while the required response of the reader was awe and submission." [20]

Such themes as affirming one's authority and signifying possession are also pervasive in Tang landscape essays, but they are embedded in the more intimate relationship between the writer as subject and the landscape as object rather than in the more public dynamics, as evidenced in the records of imperial tours, between the capital as political power center and the peripheries of the empire. In social landscape essays, the authority one assumes in naming a place is predicated on one's ability to construe and lay bare the moral significance behind a newly built landmark and its surrounding scenery. Such significance is frequently incorporated into a grand scheme where the natural and the moral worlds correspond and resonate with each other. In the context of the exilic experience of Tang scholar-officials, Madeline K. Spring has described "the act of conferring names on sites [one] has discovered" as a "means of empowerment for the exile." [21] We should note, however, that such a means of empowerment is not confined to landscapes of exile, as can be witnessed in the case of Yuan Jie, who does not always experience or write about landscapes from an exilic point of view.

Furthermore, the power relationship in place-naming may extend beyond the encounter between the writer as subject and landscape as object. The authority one assumes in naming can also manifest the power structure of hierarchical social relationships. Whether the author intended it or not, Yuan Jie's "Record of Cold Pavilion" ("Hanting ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] displays the connection between social power and moral privilege in the naming process (YCSJ, 136-37).

In the second year of the Yongtai reign [766], I arrived at Jianghua during an inspection tour of the counties in my prefecture. The county magistrate Qu Lingwen asked for my advice, saying: "In the south of the county, waters and cliffs reflect each other, forming a lovely view. But it is said that there is no access for a panoramic view of the area. I sent people to explore. They found a cave and entered it. I had plank walkways built at all dangerous junctions so that the whole path was connected. Only then was I able to have a thatched pavilion built on the cliff. When the pavilion was completed, its steps and railings hung in the air, with the long river below; its terrace and columns touched the clouds, with the top of the pavilion paralleling the highest peak. On fine days, at dawn and dusk, mist and smoke take on marvelous hues. The dark-green stone wall of the pavilion is reflected in the water, mixing with the reflections of trees. I wanted to name this pavilion but did not know how to describe it. May I ask you to name it so that future generations will know what we did?" Thereupon I discussed it with him while I rested in the pavilion, saying, "Today, in the peak of the summer heat, we climbed to this pavilion and felt as though winter were coming. In this land of scorching and steaming heat, this pavilion is so cool that one may rest comfortably here. Isn't it appropriate, therefore, to name it 'Cold Pavilion?'" Thereupon I wrote this record of Cold Pavilion and have had it inscribed on the back of the pavilion.

At the very beginning, the reader is confronted with a demarcated social hierarchy. Here the typical genetic background for social landscape essays (i.e., the author's trip of leisure to a newly built landmark) takes the form of an official tour of inspection. Significant is the casually mentioned fact that Jianghua county is under Yuan Jie's command. In his relationship to Qu Lingwen, therefore, Yuan Jie occupies a position of authority. This relationship immediately makes itself felt in the county magistrate's prudent gesture of deferring to the prefect in naming the pavilion that he (Qu Lingwen) himself has built. [22]

Yuan Jie's response, however, shows no appreciation whatsoever of Qu Lingwen's achievements as the local magistrate. Instead, through the act of naming, Yuan Jie asserts the priority of his own brief experience of the pavilion to Qu Lingwen's more intimate and enduring relationship to the place. Thus, the two individuals' relationship to the natural landscape is subsumed in the more important hierarchical relationship between the prefect and the county magistrate. How Qu Lingwen feels about the name given by his superior is tactfully left out of the text.

Of course, there is no external evidence to suggest that the relations between Yuan Jie and Qu Lingwen were ever strained. On the contrary, the two seemed to enjoy a cordial friendship and even collaborated in the act of inscribing landscapes. Several of Yuan Jie's works written while he was prefect of Daozhou were physically inscribed by Qu Lingwen, an excellent calligrapher. [23] My point, however, is not that the purpose of Yuan Jie in "Record of Cold Pavilion" is to belittle Qu Lingwen; [24] rather, through the act of naming the pavilion Yuan foregrounds the assertion of his own authority and power to the detriment of his subordinate-intentionally or unintentionally. The tension in Yuan Jie's piece originates precisely in the fact that it deviates from the validictory mode prevalent in most social landscape essays. In other words, it fails to live up to our generic expectations. The prefect can get away with his inappropriate way of naming the place-inappropriate literarily as well as socially-precisely b ecause of his social status on this particular occasion.

The site to be celebrated in social landscape essays is a shared space. Once discovered, reformed, and refined, the hitherto unappreciated scenic spot is put on public display. The erection of a landmark such as a pavilion supplies, both literally and figuratively, a place to stand, an angle of moral as well as scenic vision. The naming of the landmark becomes a rallying point for the author to articulate a set of values through the physico-moral analogy, whereby the good and the beautiful are unified. [25] This analogy may still function as a structural cornerstone in personal landscape essays, as can be seen in the preface to Yuan Jie's "Inscription on Seven Springs" ("Qiquan ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (YCSJ, 147-48).

East of the city wall of Daozhou, there are seven springs. Some of them spurt from deep holes; some of them swirl in bowl-shaped recesses. All of them produce limpid creeks and their murmuring echoes resonate with each other as they flow along. There are also jagged rocks piling together and forming islets. They are so bizarre and unusual that they cannot be described. I wondered why there had been no inquisitive people in this region such that these springs had lain in wilderness since antiquity. Thereupon I trimmed the trees by the waters and constructed a place to rest and relax. Whenever I came to the springs, I would think about spending the rest of my life there. How true it is that, if a man has a pure benevolent heart, then he must be loyal and filial, and that, if he adheres to the square and the straightforward, he will never feel puzzled! Therefore I named five of the springs as follows: the first was "Benevolent Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], next "Loyal Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], next "Filial Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], next "Square Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and then "Straightforward Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. I wrote inscriptions by the creeks so that future visitors may be enlightened as they drink from and wash in those waters. I kept one spring aside and named it "Insouciant Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to commemorate the fact that I myself am insouciant and never tire of joyful drunkenness. One of the springs originated from the east of the mountain: therefore I named it "Eastern Spring" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Nothing could be more extraordinary, as it was channeled into a flowing creek. I have written inscriptions on each of them for commemoration.

The moral qualities embodied in the first five names remain at the general level of clich[acute{e}], whereby Yuan Jie's self-image as a public official, in his capacity as prefect of Daozhou, is projected. The private personality of Yuan Jie as a carefree gentleman leaves its mark on the sixth spring with the name "Insouciant Spring." The naming of a place after its geographic location, as in the case of the seventh spring, is rather common in Yuan Jie's landscape essays, "Creek on the Right Side" being the best known example (YCSJ, 146). [26] At a rapid pace, the preface delineates the standard process of discovering, transforming, moralizing, naming, and memorializing the landscape. Worthy of attention here is a frequently employed verbal trick in Yuan Jie's landscape essays. In the names of the first six springs he adds the semantic determiner for water [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to words that designate moral qualities. As a result, the moral values seem to partake of the "natural" as m uch as the natural scenes partake of the moral."

However, in personal landscape essays, the explicit and facile kind of physico-moral analogy frequently gives way to other factors motivating the process of naming. One of those factors is the author's claim to the exclusive possession, literal or metaphorical, of a well-demarcated expanse of landscape. The naming of the place embodies and strengthens the author's claim to such exclusiveness. [28]

In Yuan Jie's case, this claim is sometimes made in the crudest form by simply declaring a place to be "mine," as in his "Inscription, with Preface, on This Creek of Mine" ("Wuxi ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "Inscription, with a Preface, on This Terrace of Mine" ("Wutai ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; and "Inscription, with a Preface, on This Pavilion of Mine" ("Wuqing ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] All three pieces show the same pattern and any one of them gives a good idea of the other two. Here is "This Creek of Mine" (YCSJ, 15 1-52):

This Creek of Mine lies to the south of the Xiang River and flows northward into the Xiang. As I loved its unusual scenery, I made a home in the area. This was a creek that had been nameless for ages. Because I love it, I have named it "This Creek of Mine" and wrote an inscription at the mouth of the creek. The inscription reads:

The Xiang River zigzags;

Its deep torrent flows along the mountain.

The mountain opens up a stone gate,

Where the creek murmurs.

How does the mountain open up?

Like a pair of stones towering.

Broken cliffs facing the deep,

Steep rocks flanking the creek.

The water is extremely strange;

The rocks are remarkably unusual.

I wanted to seek retirement,

To spend my old age at this spot.

This ancient creek on the waste land,

Deserted for a long time,

I named "This Creek of Mine"

To commend my exclusive possession.

For those who would come to visit

I inscribed this at the mouth of the creek.

Yuan Jie's naming of the place is embedded in his affectionate (ai [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] relationship with nature, a point that is repeated throughout the three pieces. [29] In "Inscription, with Preface, on This Terrace of Mine" (YCSJ, 153), he goes out of his way to stress that the reason for his frequently ascending the terrace is his fondness for the view, and not--as was the case with ancients--because he has feelings of sorrow and resentment to vent [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The author's appreciation of nature is characterized by exclusiveness, not only in the sense that he alone relishes the scenery but also in the sense that nature, as a piece of property, is in his sole possession, a separate space that he calls "mine." [30] Through the same verbal device that we have seen in "Inscriptions on Seven Springs," the "I" is "naturalized" even as the landscape is "possessed." By adding the signifiers for "mountain" and "water" to the word "mine" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] he effects a sense of the self's immersion in, as well as occupation of, the landscape. [31]

Whatever differences in emphasis there may be between Yuan Jie's social and personal landscape essays, the naming process hinges on the certainty and readability of the moral significance of the landscape. One hears a sure and authoritative voice that means what it says and says what it means. Liu Zongyuan's case is quite different. Whereas his social landscape essays make use of the physicomoral analogy, in his personal landscape essay the relationship between subject and object becomes, consciously or unconsciously, destabilized. As a result, the thematic fabric of naming and meaning is shot through with tensions and ambiguities.

In tracing the evolution of travel writing in the Chinese tradition, Strassberg regards the "exilic syndrome" and the revival of ancient-style prose as the two most important factors contributing to the rise, in the Tang, of the "lyrical travel account." [32] He discusses in some detail the "political, psychological, and spiritual problems" created for the landscape writer by the "exigencies of exile." [33] Yuan Jie was not a political exile, as was Liu Zongyuan, for his temporary retirements from office were largely voluntary. [34] His descriptions of the landscape are occasionally colored with, but never dominated by, a sense of resentment or self-pity. His landscape essays reflect a grand paradigm in which the beauties of natural scenery mirror the virtues of the human subject.

In contrast, Liu Zongyuan, having fallen from grace as a result of his affiliation with the Wang Shuwen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (753-806) clique, found himself in a painful situation, for it was difficult for him to justify his political transgressions in the system of moral values available to him. Consequently, we discern in his writings a tormented soul struggling to come to terms with the realities of exile. At times, we are tempted to believe that he resolves, if only temporarily, feelings of moral and political alienation in a mystic union with nature. [35] Liu Zongyuan himself would speak, as he did in "Record of Flat-Iron Pond" ("Gutuman ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of his fascination with and absorption in his natural surroundings, which made him "love to live in the barbarian land and forget my homeland" (LZYJ, 764). [36] However, as Joshui Chen persuasively argues, the conspicuous juxtaposition here of "barbarian land" and "homeland" underscores the fa ct that, "even when enjoying the company of nature, pains and worries in the worldly life are still in the back of his mind." [37] Mystical identification with nature, however rapturous it may have been, never delivered him truly from his agonies. The same may be said of his quietist leanings influenced by Buddhism. As I shall try to show, it was Liu Zongyuan's socio-political engagement that plunged him into his moral dilemma in the first place and it was the same engagement (though on a lesser scale) that eventually found him a way out of that dilemma. A close examination of the treatment of place names in his personal landscape essays supplies a clue with which to trace the trajectory of Liu's inner struggle and its eventual resolution.

Liu Zongyuan employs the same devices as Yuan Jie in his personal landscape essays, but these devices often malfunction and backfire, owing largely to his ambivalence toward his own exilic experience. The name "Foolish Creek" provides a focal point for our exploration of this ambivalence. It first appears in Liu's "Preface to Poems on Foolish Creek" ("Xuxi shi xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (LZYJ, 642-43). [38]

North of the Guan River there is a creek. It flows eastward and ends in the Xiao River. According to some, "a certain Ran [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] once lived here, so he called it by his surname Ran Creek." According to others, "its water could be used for dyeing (ran [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] It was named after this quality and was called "Dyeing Creek." Because of my foolishness I received punishment and was demoted to a post on the Xiao River. I love this creek. Going along it for two or three ii, I acquired the finest spot and made my home there. In ancient times, there was Valley of the Foolish Old Man. Now I had made a home by this creek, but its name was not yet fixed and the natives still quarreled over it. The name had to be changed. Therefore I have changed it to "Foolish Creek."

The manner in which the preface begins is reminiscent of Yuan Jie's inscriptions. There is the familiar combination of the motifs of relishing a lovely place, purchasing it, and making a home there. The present piece deviates from this format in that it involves renaming the place, and the renaming requires an elaborate explanation. Whereas the ongoing dispute among the natives about the name of the creek adds to the urgency of "rectifying the name," the historico-legendary figure of the Foolish Old Man provides a rationale for the new name Liu Zongyuan suggests. [39] Liu Zongyuan's declaration that "the name had to be changed" is the first of his several references to Confucius' Analects (Lunyu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Asked what he would do if given the opportunity to assist in government, Confucius is said to have replied that he would "rectify names first," because "if names are not correct, then words are not justifiable; if words are not justifiable, then things cannot be accomplis hed." [40] Appearing in the context of a local argument over the name of an obscure place, this famous remark of Confucius is recalled in an obliquely parodying manner. In a certain sense, however, Liu Zongyuan's whole surface is about the complex of "names," "words," and "things."

Liu Zongyuan goes on to describe eight scenic spots in the Foolish Creek area, naming all of them "foolish" in the process: Foolish Mound, Foolish Fountain, Foolish Ditch, Foolish Pond, Foolish Hall, Foolish Pavilion, and Foolish Isle. Since these spots are "all marvels of the land," calling them "foolish" is a misnomer. It is, as Liu admits, "insulting" (ru [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). And, as if to sharpen the edge of this insult, he makes another loose allusion to the Analects to the effect that "the intelligent take delight in waters and the benevolent take delight in mountains." [41]

Now, water is what the intelligent take delight in. Why is it that this creek suffered the insult of being called foolish? It is because its course lies in the low ground and can not be used for irrigation. Furthermore, it is so swift and has so many protruding rocks that larger boats cannot enter. It is so hidden, desolate, shallow, and narrow that dragons do not deign to frequent it and raise clouds or rain. Not being able to benefit the world, it is exactly my type. Therefore, calling it "foolish" is all right, though insulting. When Master Ning Wu "became a fool when the government lost the Way," he was an intelligent man pretending to be a fool. When Master Yan Hui "never disagreed [with what his master said] all day long as if he were a fool," he was a sagacious man pretending to be a fool. Neither of them was a real fool. Now I live under a government that has attained the Way, but I went against reason and acted unnaturally. Therefore, nobody can match me in being a fool. If so, then no one in the wo rld can compete with me for this creek. I am in a unique position to name it.

Having established the uselessness of the creek, Liu Zongyuan expands on his own foolishness by differentiating between himself as a "real" fool and the merely apparent fools in history, drawing yet again on the Analects for the examples of Yan Hui [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Ning Wu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. [42] What ultimately gives him the exclusive right to name the creek ([CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is his unmatched foolishness, which corresponds perfectly with the utter uselessness of the creek. Once renamed, the creek becomes an extension of Liu Zongyuan's "foolish" self.

If as a "fool" Liu Zongyuan is unable to serve the government, he still has the option of attaining fame among future generations through writing. [43]

Though the creek does not benefit the world, it excels in reflecting the myriad forms of creation. Clear and limpid, resounding like metal and stone, it can make the foolish man happy and laugh, who loves and enjoys it so much that he cannot part with it. Although I do not get along with the vulgar world, I am quite able to console myself by writing, with which I can cleanse all things and encompass all forms, refraining from nothing. As I sing in praise of Foolish Creek with my foolish songs, the creek and I do not contradict each other in our indistinctness and move in the same direction in our murkiness. As I transcend the great indifferentiation and become oblivious of sights and sounds, nobody is able to understand me in my faraway state of mind. Thereupon I have composed "Eight Foolish Poems" and recorded them on a stone by the creek.

It is on the level of writing that the creek's affinity with Liu Zongyuan is forged in the last segment of the preface. The murmuring of the creek ("resounding like metal stone") corresponds to Liu Zongyuan's "foolish songs"; the capacity of the creek to "reflect the myriad forms of creation" is matched by Liu Zongyuan's writing that can "cleanse all things and encompass all forms." By way of compensation, the creek's lack of practical usefulness is balanced by its cathartic value in soothing and cheering the political fool. Consequently, the potential tension surrounding the name of the creek dissolves in the realm of "words," as the writing subject and the written object, the namer and the named, merge into one indistinguishable entity.

This seamless fusion is split asunder, however, in "Dialogue with Foolish Creek" ("Yuxi dui" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Liu Zongyuan's uneasiness in subjugating the creek to his own foolishness looms ominously in the creek spirit's haunting challenge, conveyed in the following dream fantasy (LZYJ, 357-59).

After naming it "Foolish Creek," Master Liu lived by the creek. Five days later, the creek spirit appeared at night to him in a dream and said: "How is it you have insulted me by calling me foolish? If I had the essence of foolishness, then surely the name "foolish" would follow. But am I foolish? I hear that in Min there is water that produces poisonous fog and pestiferous smog. Whoever is affected by it suffers from fever, pyrexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. It has so many reefs and swirls that fleets of ships break and crack in it. It has fish with saw-like teeth, sword-like tails, and hooves of beasts; these eat humans, first cutting them up, then tossing them into the air, and catching them as they fall. Therefore it is called Wicked Creek. In the Western Sea there is a body of water so weak and powerless that it cannot even carry a mustard seed. Whatever falls in it sinks helplessly all the way down to the bottom before it stops. Therefore it is called Weak Water. In Qin there is a river, which draws with it mud and sludge and stirs along sand and grit. When one looks at it, one seems to be looking only at a murky wall. Its depth and danger are so hidden in darkness that they cannot be discerned. As it converges into the limpid Wei River, its filth becomes all the more visible. Therefore it is called the turbid Jing River. West of Yong there is water as dangerously dark as black lacquer, whose source is unknown. Therefore it is called Black Water. Now "wicked" and "weak" are among the Six Evils; "turbid" and "black" are abject names. Those waters did not reject the names they got, and their names have survived for thousands of ages. That is because their names matc their essence. Now I am so limpid and beautiful that I caught your fancy. Moreover, I can be used to irrigate fields and gardens and I am powerful enough to carry boats, giving passage to them, from dawn to dusk. You have favored me by choosing to live by me. However, you insult me with the baseless name "Foolish Creek" so that I suffer extreme lib el without having my virtues manifest. How can this not be changed eventually?"

Whereas what necessitated the renaming of the place in Preface to Poems on Foolish Creek" was a seemingly trivial dispute among the natives, the drama of Liu Zongyuan's internal conflicts is played out in the present dialogue.

The general framework of a dream fantasy notwithstanding, the reproach of the creek spirit touches on a truly serious concern in Liu Zongyuan's writings, i.e., the relationship between "name" (ming [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and "essence" or "reality" (shi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). [44] A well-known example in this connection is his "Record of the Iron Furnace Dock in Yongzhou" ("Yongzhou Tielubu zhi" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Though the blacksmith and his furnace were now long gone, the dock had retained its name. From this incident, Liu Zongyuan goes on to make a scathing attack on those who carry on the empty names of great families without possessing the talent or virtue of those who made the families great in the first place (LZYJ, 756-57). The premise of Liu Zongyuan's reply to the creek spirit, however, is precisely the transferability of essence.

Master Liu replied: "Indeed you don't have the essence of foolishness. Yet of all the people I alone love you with my foolishness. So how can you avoid the name? Haven't you heard of Greedy Spring? Once a man drank from it and then went to the south. When he saw the many shining and dazzling treasures in Jiaozhi, he wanted to grab them with both hands and put them in his bosom. Was this because the spring had the essence of greed? The spring was called "Greedy Spring" because someone became greedy after passing over it. Now, of all the people, you have attracted a foolish man to live by you, one who lingers, here for a long time without leaving, and the name cannot be changed even if you want to. In the time of an enlightened sovereign, the intelligent are employed and the foolish are retired. Those who are employed are close to court and those who are retired are far away. Now, your location is over three thousand ii away from the capital, and it is so out-of-the-way and hidden that you are accompanied by s teaming humidity and inhabited by snails and clams. I alone, punished, humiliated, untalented, and exiled, wander daily around you languidly and keep to you fastidiously. Do you pretend to be intelligent? Why, then, do you let me alone live by you instead of making those smart and powerful people pay you a single visit who in their capacity as ministers benefit the whole world? Since you cannot get them but are only appropriated by me, foolishness must be your essence. And yet you feel it is a libel to call you foolish when you are foolish. What do you say to that?"

The creek spirit replied: "What you say is true. May I ask how is it that your foolishness reaches to me?" Master Liu said, "Do you wish me to say all I can about my foolishness? What my mouth has to say will reach beyond where you can go; even if all of your water were dried up into inksticks, it wouldn't be enough to keep my brush wet. But let me give a rough idea. I am vastly ignorant. When there is snow and ice, everyone else dresses in fur coats, but I dress in thin clothes; when it is hot and humid, everyone else seeks the wind, but I seek fire. When I set out on a tour, I do not understand that the Taihang Mountains are different from thoroughfares and that they will ruin my carriage; when I travel on water, I do not know that the L[ddot{u}]liang River is different from waters that flow quietly and that it will sink my boat. My feet step into pitfalls; my head bumps into bushes and rocks. I get caught among branches and thisties and fall down on reptiles and lizards but still I do not know what it is to be afraid. What difference does it make to me whether it is gain or loss? When I advance, I do not feel puffed up; when I retreat, I do not feel wronged. I simply cannot constrain myself, be it in wilderness or in darkness. This is the gist of my foolishness, with which I should like to tarnish you. Will that do?"

Thereupon the creek spirit fell into deep thought and then sighed: "Alas! Your foolishness is still superabundant even after it reaches to me." It lowered its head in shame and then raised it with a groan. With tears crossing its face, it held up its hand and bid me adieu. In the twinkling of an eye, I woke up, not knowing where it had gone. Therefore I wrote down this dialogue.

The form of "Dialogue with Foolish Creek," as has long been pointed out by commentators, is highly reminiscent of such earlier pieces as Dongfang Shuo's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII](fl. second century B.C.) "In Reply to the Reproach of a Guest ("Da ke'nan" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Yang Xiong's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (53 B.C.--A.D.18) "Repudiating Ridicule" ("Jie chao" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). [45] What is peculiar about Liu Zongyuan's "Dialogue with the Creek Spirit" is that his opponent is so eloquent and forceful that the protagonist emerges not quite as triumphant as one would expect--in spite of the gesture of the creek spirit in the end. The Qing critic Sun Cong [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (fl. 1692) has acutely remarked in this connection that "the argument of Creek Spirit is strong and that of Liuzhou weak" ([CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). [46] The underlying reason for Liu Z ongyuan's weakness is the agonizing awareness that, unlike the creek spirit's "foolishness," his own is real and the punishment he has received is, to some degree at least, warranted. For all his resentment, there is, as Lin Shu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] has observed, "a regret over mistakes and an admission to transgression" ([CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) on Liu Zongyuan's part. [47]

It is this resentment that prompts him to take out his suffering on nature. As Jennings Mason Gentzler puts it: "In this dream, Liu not only identifies himself with his natural surroundings, but forces the surroundings to recognize this identification. Liu does not yield to the captivating beauties of nature; he implicates nature in his own sufferings." [48] However, this does not mean that nature is always "silent and seemingly generous" or that "nature could not but listen and accept" when Liu Zongyuan talks to it. [49] On the contrary, the creek spirit demonstrates in an upsetting way that nature can be resistant and revengeful when Liu tries to shift his burden of humiliation and pain. The "revenge" of nature is made possible by his own moral vulnerability. As has been generally recognized, in his landscape writings during the Yongzhou exile, Liu Zongyuan often used hitherto unexplored scenic spots as metaphors for talented but unappreciated individuals like himself. Such a metaphorical mode works relati vely well in some of his famous "Eight Records of Yongzhou." In "Dialogue with Creek Spirit," however, the rhetoric on the place name wriggles out of the metaphorical framework. When the tenor is unstable, the vehicle becomes subversive.

In "Preface to Poems on Foolish Creek," Liu Zongyuan presents himself as a matchless "fool" because "I live under a government that has attained the Way, but I went against reason and acted unnaturally." We tend to understand this as a kind of tongue-in-cheek self-ridicule. When in his dialogue with the creek spirit he again refers to "the time of an enlightened sovereign," we begin to wonder if he somehow means what he says. For, if any government could lay claim to the Way in the mid-Tang, it would have to be Emperor Xianzong's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] reign (805-820), during which Liu Zongyuan's exile took place. Liu Zongyuan himself could not help noticing the impressive accomplishments of the Yuanhe restoration. [50] Unfortunately, the intense personal animosity that the "enlightened" Emperor Xianzong harbored against the Wang Shuwen clique (of which Liu Zongyuan was an important member) helped to doom Liu Zongyuan to a lifetime of exile. At times, Liu would blame his quandary on f ate, as when he writes to Xiao Mian [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (?-842): "At the present time, the Son of Heaven promotes moral cultivation and distinguishes between the righteous and the devious so that the whole country is in a joyous mood. But only I, together with four or five other men, have fallen in disgrace like this. Isn't it because of fate?" (LZYJ, 798). The logical, though disheartening, conclusion remains that, if Liu Zongyuan does "live under a government that has attained the Way," then his exile is an appropriate punishment for his foolishness. His own foolishness is indeed that of a reckless zealot unaware of, and unprepared for, the dangers and difficulties of his pursuit. On more than one occasion in his personal letters, Liu Zongyuan offers a similar self characterization, though in much plainer language. In "Letter to Xu Mengrong, Mayor of the Metropolitan Capital" ("Ji Xu Jingzhao Mengrong shu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] for example, he admits that "in my youthful enthusiasm, I did not know of the subtleties of state affairs. I just wanted to pursue single-mindedly my goals without knowing whether it was appropriate or not, so that eventually I received punishment. All this I brought upon myself. Upon what else can I place my blame?" (LZYJ, 780). In "Letter to Pei Xun" ("Yu Pei Xun shu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), he pleads guilty to a similar transgression: "My crime was that, in my youth, I was too adventurous. Once I started, I could not stop" (LZYJ, 794).

In transferring his foolishness to the creek, he alienates the creek; in implicating nature, he ultimately implicates himself. To exonerate himself, Liu Zongyuan needs to absolve nature first. To absolve nature, he has to resist and overcome the constant urge to mirror his suffering and self-pity in nature. With a relatively objective tone in its treatment of the place-name, Liu Zongyuan's "Record of an Excursion of Huang Creek" ("You Huangxi ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] exemplifies a different approach, in which nature provides an inspiration for his redemption rather than a receptacle for his affliction (LZYJ, 759-60). [51]

Of the hundreds of prefectures known for their mountains and waters in the area northward to Jin, westward to Bin, eastward to Wu, and southward to the area between Chu and Yue, Yong is the best. Of the hundreds of villages known for their mountains and waters in the prefecture covering a hundred li to This Creek of Mine in the north, Xiangyuan county in the west, Shuang Spring in the south, and East Village on Huang Creek in the east, Huang Creek is the best.

Huang Creek is seven li from the capital of the prefecture. Walking from Eastern Village southward for six hundred paces, I reached the Temple of Lord Huang. Above the temple, mountains tower like walls on both sides. Flowers like red cinnabar and leaves like green jade grow in rows, extending up and down with the mountain range, interrupted only by cliffs and grottoes. Small rocks spread out evenly in the water. Pulling up my robe, I walked from above the temple eighty paces to where the water reached the First Pool. It was wondrously beautiful and could hardly be described. In its general contours, it looked like a huge urn slashed open right in the middle, with the surrounding cliffs standing up a thousand feet above the ground. The water of the creek gathered here like eyebrow pigment and thick oil. The creek flowed into the pool like a white rainbow and yet made no sound at all. Hundreds of fish came and gathered under the cliffs. Going further south for a hundred paces, I reached the Second Pool. Here, facing the torrent of the creek were towering cliffs in the shape of chins and roots of teeth. Below, huge rocks lined up randomly, upon which one could sit down to eat and drink. There was a bird with a red head and black wings, as big as a swan, standing with its face to the east. From here, further southward for several li, the landscape appeared all the same, with the trees more imposing, the cliffs sharper, and the flowing water resounding alt the time. One li further south, I reached a grand river. Here the mountain spread out and the water slowed, and there were fields under cultivation. When Lord Huang was still a human, he lived here.

According to legend, Lord Huang was of the surname Wang and a descendant of Wang Mang. After Wang Mang died, he changed his name to Huang and escaped here to choose a hidden and desolate spot to hide. Earlier, Wang Mang had said: "I am the descendant of Huang and Yu [i.e., the Yellow Emperor and the sage-king Shun]." Therefore he titled his daughter "Princess of the August House of Huang." "Huang" and "Wang" sounded very much alike; since there was such historical evidence, the legend became all the more credible. Since Lord Huang resided here, the people were able to live in peace. They all thought he had attained the Way; therefore, after he died, they worshipped him and set up a temple in his honor. Later the temple was moved closer to the people. Nowadays it is by the creek on the north side of the mountain. On the sixteenth day of the fifth month of the eighth year of the Yuanhe reign, after I returned from my trip, I wrote the above record to enlighten future visitors.

Commentators since the Song period have found the beginning of this piece to be imitative of Sima Qian's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (145-85? B.C.) "Accounts of the Southwestern Barbarians" ("Xi'nan yi zhuan") and have tried to rationalize and justify this imitation on technical and thematic grounds. [52] A dissenting voice is raised by He Zhuo: "The introduction falls into the mode of imitation and what it says is not necessarily true. How about deleting it and simply starting with 'Huang Creek is seven li from the capital of the prefecture?'" [53] Whether there is any merit in He Zhuo's mild objection, he (as well as most of those who come to Liu Zongyuan's defense) certainly misses Liu Zongyuan's hidden agenda in adopting the tone of historical writing. For history and legend form an intricate network into which the name "Huang Creek" is woven.

In sharp contrast to his prompt dismissal of the dispute among the natives in "Preface to Poems on Foolish Creek," Liu Zongyuan remains conspicuously silent on the legend of Lord Huang. In trying to uncover the "moral message" of this legend, critics have suggested that Liu Zongyuan finds a kindred spirit, or rather finds an image of himself, in the figure of Lord Huang. Such an interpretation is perhaps right as far as it goes, but it glides too easily over the disturbing figure of Wang Mang. For, to trace so meticulously the genealogy of Lord Huang (to whom Liu Zongyuan may well be comparing himself) to the most infamous usurper in imperial history appears a dubious move, for which an explanation is required.

The origin of the name "Huang Creek" is caught up in the question of the priority of the names "Wang" and "Huang." Historically, as can be seen in the loose quotation from Wang Mang, "Huang" precedes "Wang"; [54] in the local legend, "Huang" as in "Lord Huang" derives from "Wang" as in "Wang Mang"; in their phonologic closeness, "Wang" and "Huang" are nearly indistinguishable and no sequential priority can be assigned. The true significance of the temple, with which Liu Zongyuan hopes to "enlighten future visitors," is to be found in the moral perspective of the local people, which overrides everything in the nexus of history, legend, and phonology.

What Liu Zongyuan sees in Lord Huang is the possibility of moral redemption through the accomplishment of deeds rather than quibbling about words or empty names. The name "Huang" might have been eternally tainted through its association with Wang Mang, but Lord Huang, by his attainment of the Way, was able to transcend the bad name of his immediate ancestor and to reconnect with the virtues of the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huangdi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). In titling his daughter "Princess of the August House of Huang," Wang Mang implicitly acts on the presumption that name precedes essence. In contrast, the case of Lord Huang is one where essence precedes name. Lord Huang's deification is based on his divine virtues that prove to be beneficial to those who deify him. Lord Huang can be regarded, in an intricate manner, as a double of Liu Zongyuan. Just as Lord Huang faced persecution because of his kinship with Wang Mang, so Liu Zongyuan was punished because of his affiliation with the Wang Shuwen clique. [55] Just as Lord Huang eventually succeeded in transcending the bad name of his ancestor, Liu Zongyuan envisions a morally optimistic prospect for reinstating his name in history through tendering practical service to the local people.

Studies of Liu Zongyuan seldom fail to mention that beautiful but hidden spots described in his landscape essays often symbolize talented but unappreciated individuals like himself. The most obvious example in this regard is his lamentation in "Record of the Hillock West of Flat-Iron Pond" ("Gumutan xi xiaoqiu ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). After describing how he purchased a scenic spot at a bargain price and how he made it even more beautiful by landscaping it, Liu Zongyuan sighs over the depreciation of the hillock as a piece of property: "Alas! With its excellent scenery, if this hillock were moved to Feng, Hao, Hu, or Du in the suburbs of the capital, then aristocratic sightseers would vie with each other to purchase it. Even if they raised their bid by a thousand in gold a day, it would only make it all the more difficult for them to get it. And yet it has been abandoned in this prefecture. Farmers and fishermen have passed by it in disdain. For years it has not been able to be so ld even for four hundred cash" (LZYJ, 766). A far cry from such thinly veiled self-pity is Liu Zongyuan's representation of Huang Creek. With its exaggerated, superlative (zuishan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) scenery, the creek becomes "overappreciated," contrasting sharply with the "underappreciated" Hillock West of Flat-Iron Pond. [56] Instead of being a symbol of political dislocation, Huang Creek with its legend embodies a value system that does not need the power center of the capital as a point of moral reference. Redemption does not have to be gained through political reinstatement at court; it has already been brilliantly exemplified by Lord Huang in this distant and desolate location.

Strassberg has observed that, whereas in postmedieval travel writing in the West "the discovery of new worlds, new cultures, and new sources of wealth supported a fundamental questioning of traditional structures of authority in both the literary and nonliterary realms," the exiled scholar-official in imperial China "remained bound to the dynastic scene. Though alienated from the power center, he did not look to the cultures of the margin for elements that would enable him to envision a radically different existence." [57] The "Record of an Excursion to Huang Creek" becomes all the more remarkable precisely because its author does succeed in envisioning a moral alternative, if not "a radically different existence," from his experience of the local scenery, legend, and history--an experience whose representation centers on the place-name "Huang Creek."

As the hope of returning to the capital became increasingly dimmer, he found in the remote Huang Creek a moral alternative. Eventually he was rewarded for acting upon that alternative. Later in Liuzhou, Liu Zongyuan embraced wholeheartedly his official duties and his local reputation became legendary. The Liu Zongyuan of Liuzhou may have been a lesser landscape writer than the Liu Zongyuan of Yongzhou, but he was definitely a man with a healthier state of mind and more tangible achievements in serving the people. After his death, a temple was built in Liuzhou in his honor and he was deified much in the same manner that Lord Huang was by the people at Huang Creek. [58] Deeds, not words, proved to be his ultimate salvation.

(1.) Ouyang Xiu, "Tang Yuan Jie 'Wazun ming' ba," in Quan Song wen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. Zeng Zaozhuang and Liu Lin (Chengdu: Bashu shushe, 1988), 17: 623. For the quality of "extraordinariness" (qi[CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] on the levels of diction, conception, and structure in Yuan Jie's prose, see Li Jiankun [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Yuan Cishan shengping ji qi wenxue [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taibei: Taiwan Shangwu yinshuguan, 1986), 112-14.

(2.) "Tang Yuan Jie 'Huayangyan ming' ba," in Quan Song wen, 17: 624.

(3.) That Yuan Jie anticipated Liu Zongyuan has been the critical consensus ever since the Song period. Quyang Xiu was one of the first to establish a genealogy from Yuan Jie to Liu Zongyuan in the development of Tang ancient-style prose (guwen) in general. See his "Tang Yuan Cishan ming ba," in Quan Song wen, 17:622. Later commentators have stressed Yuan Jie's contributions to the Tang landscape essay, which culminated in Liu Zongyuan. It is rather questionable, however, whether Liu Zongyuan ever consciously followed any model established by Yuan Jie.

(4.) Sporadic examples can be found, of course, where mention is made of the importance of place names in Chinese travel writings from the Tang onwards. See, for example, the preface to Chen Xin [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] et al., Lidai youji xuan yi: Han zhi Tangdai bufen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhongguo xiju chubanshe, 1987), 7.

(5.) Madeline K. Spring has also written on the significance of place names in her study of Tang landscape essays (see n. 21).

(6.) Richard E. Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Press, 1994), 21. As will become clear in the following, what Strassberg defines as "valedictory travel account" generally falls into the category of what I call social landscape essays. Note also that Strassberg's anthology of "travel writing" includes prefaces (xu), letters (shu), and inscriptions (ming) as well as travel accounts (youji). Strassberg considers Han Yu, with his "Yanxiting ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to be the founder of the valedictory travel account (p. 38). My own view is that the credit should rightfully go to Yuan Jie. Furthermore, we should note that the persona of the travel writer rectifying names makes its presence felt as strongly in personal landscape essays as in social landscape essays, if not more so.

(7.) Ibid., 21. Again, works with this kind of genetic background fall into the category of what I call personal landscape essays.

(8.) Ibid., 38.

(9.) Yuan Jie, Xinjiao Yuan Cishan ji [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. Sun Wang (Taibei: Shijie shuju, 1962; hereafter YCSJ), 123. In the last Sentence, I read huo [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] for han [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. This reading may be corroborated in part by the last two lines of Yuan Jie' poem "Deng Shuting zuo," written around the same time as the prose record:


I ask you to chant over my intention / For the puzzled ones to hear. (YCSJ, 32).

(10.) A formal feature in Yuan Jie's prose is his use of the exclamatory particle yuxi (or wuhu) [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to move from narrative/descriptive language to discursive language. Here I translate the particle somewhat awkwardly as "how true it is that...."

(11.) Strassberg's introduction to his anthology discusses in detail the significance of inscribing landscapes in Chinese travel writing. For a case study of the act of inscription as a means of perpetuating the writer's name and fame, see also Stephen Owen, Remembrances: The Experience Of the Past in Classical Chinese Literature (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1986), 16-32.

(12.) Cf. Ye Youming [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Bei Yuanchen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Lidal youji xuan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Changsha: Hunan renmin chubanshe, 1980), 3; Zheng Mengtong [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] et al., Gudai youji mingpian pingzhu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Guangdong: Guangzhou renmin chubanshe, 1986), 1; and Wu Xiaolin [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Liu Zangyuan sanwen yishu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taiyuan: Shanxi renmin chu banshe, 1989), 113. Literary taxonomy is a rather fluid enterprise. From the vantage point of the development of Chinese landscape essays in general, the originality of either Yuan Jie or Liu Zongyuan dwindles considerably, since the combination of the two language modes can be found in much earlier pieces, such as Wang Xizhi's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ca. 303-ca. 361) "Lanting ji xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (written in 353) and the anonymous "You Shimen shi bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (written in 400). What is original in the Tang landscape essays is the way in which place naming helps to weld together description and reflection.

(13.) William H. Nienhauser has described the format of Liu Zongyuan's famous "Eight Records of Yongzhou" ("Yongzhou ba ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) as a tripartite structure: "a prose preface setting the scene, a poetic or parallel-prose descriptive section, and a prose postface." See Nienhauser et al., Liu Tsung-y[ddot{u}]an (New York: Twayne, 1973), 71. I suggest that moral discourse be recognized as a distinct and indispensable element in social landscape essays.

(14.) Liu Zongyuan ji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979; hereafter LZYJ), 735-36.

(15.) Studies are legion in the last few decades by Chinese scholars on the concept of "Heaven" in Liu Zongyuan, focusing on his atheist bent. For an English translation of two important mid-Tang disquisitions on Heaven, see H. G. Lamont, "An Early Ninth Century Debate on Heaven: Liu Tsung-y[ddot{u}]an's T'ien shuo and Liu Y[ddot{u}]-hsis T'ien lun, an Annotation and Introduction," in two parts, Asia Major, n.s., 18.2 (1973): 181-208; 19 (1974): 37-85. A recent discussion is offered by Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-y[ddot{u}]an and Intellectual Change in T'ang China, 773-819 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992), 99-126. Liu Zongyuan's landscape writings differ from his philosophical treatises in that the concept of the Creator-of-Things or Heaven is employed in a much looser manner as a literary motif, without implying any philosophical conviction. Han Yu's "Yanxiting ji" makes a similar use of this motif. See Quan Tang wen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (rpt. Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1990), 557.2495. Prose accounts in the mid-Tang of rocks of unusual shapes in particular tend to be injected with speculations, ranging from playful to serious, about the Creator-of-Things. Liu Zongyuan's oft-translated "Xiaoshishancheng ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]comes readily to mind (LZYJ, 772-73). Such speculations are even more prevalent in mid-Tang poetic descriptions of strange rocks.

(16.) Yinmen dushu ji, 644.

(17.) For discussion of Confucius' program of rectification of names, see John Makeham, Name and Actuality in Early Chinese Thought (Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1994), 35-47.

(18.) Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes, 13.

(19.) Translated by Strassberg, ibid., 15.

(20.) Ibid., 15-16.

(21.) See Madeline K. Spring, "T'ang Landscape of Exile," JAOS 117 (1997): 320. Spring discusses in some detail ways in which Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan "assert authority over their present lives by naming or renaming sites within the landscape" (p. 322).

(22.) The honor of naming the place is often conferred upon the person with the higher position in the social hierarchy. Two of Yuan Jie's inscriptions written in 762 when he was living for a short period of retirement in Wuchang [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Pouzun ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (YCSJ, 115), and "Tuigu ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (YCSJ 116), contrast meaningfully with his "Record of Cold Pavilion." In those two pieces, the place names are given by Yuan Jie's friend Meng Yanshen [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (jinshi 744), district magistrate of Wuchang at the time. In the former, Yuan Jie begins by praising the virtues of Meng Yanshen, then goes on to project an image of himself as a simple-hearted and pureminded man. In the latter, the name bestowed upon the place by Meng Yanshen serves a cautionary function, warning Yuan Jie against harboring ambition for fame and fortune while living in seclusion. One wonders if the naming of the places in the latter piece would have been the way it is if Yuan Jie had been Meng Yanshen's social superior. We may also mention in this connection Han Yu's "Yanxiting ji," in which Han Yu, in his capacity as magistrate of Yangshan, takes it upon himself to name the pavilion built by his friends and goes on to elaborate the significance of the place name with a series of allusions to the Confucian classics. For discussion of Han Yu's piece as a landscape essay and the significance of naming in it, see Spring, "T'ang Landscapes of Exile," 319-20, and her earlier article, "Bianzhe wenxue yu Han Liu de shanshui zhi zuo" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Wenxue yichan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 4 (1994): 57-58.

(23.) Yuan Jie himself mentions this collaboration in 'Yang-huayan ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (YCSJ, 137). In addition, Sun Wang mentions the following pieces as inscribed by Qu Lingwen: "Hanting ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Wuxi ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Wutai ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and "Wuqing ming bing xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] See Sun Wang, Yuan Cishan nianpu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] printed together with YCSJ, 77, 84-85.

(24.) An intriguing example of the use of social landscape essay as a medium for criticizing the host can be found in Su Shi's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1037-1101) "Lingxutai ji" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] See Su Shi wenji, ed. Kong Fanli (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986), 350-51. For a highly entertaining discussion of Su Shi's piece, See Lin Yutang, The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (New York: John Day, 1947), 66-69.

(25.) The shared space in social landscape essays may lend itself to an interpretive contest, centering on the moral significance attached to the site. Of paramount importance is the question of whose reading or interpretation of the landscape counts. Han Yu's "Yanxiting ji" is a prime example: despite the fact that two Buddhist monks are involved in the building of the pavilion, Han Yu, a self-claimed custodian of Chinese culture in a crusade against the corruptive influence of Buddhism, expounds the moral significance of the landscape in a strictly Confucian vein without allowing for an intrusion of Buddhist doctrines. The two monks would probably have named the place in quite a different way and given a different interpretation of the name.

(26.) Other examples include "Yanghuayan ming bing xu" (YCSJ, 137-38), "Chaoyangyan ming bing xu" (YCSJ, 143-44), and the poem "Huiyangting zuo you xu" (YCSJ, 44-45).

(27.) Yuan Jie's predilection for the physico-moral reciprocity reflected on the verbal level in place-names can also be found in "Rangxi ming you xu" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], where he reads into the character rang [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] a fusion of the physical attribute of water with the moral quality of deference (rang [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (YCSJ, 90-91).

(28.) As we have seen before, the theme of possession in the records of imperial travels is predominantly political in nature and has territorial implications. In personal landscape essays, the idea of possession is linked with establishing a personal moral space, often, but not always, on the basis of legal ownership of property.

(29.) In "Pouzun ming bing xu" and "Tuigu ming bing xu," where Yuan Jie defers to Meng Yanshen in place naming, it is also clearly stated that Meng Yanshen takes it upon himself to name the places because he "loves" them.

(30.) For a critique of Yuan Jie's excessive desire to possess the landscape as reflected in these three inscriptions, see Ge Lifang [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (?-1164), Yunyu yangqiu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], in Lidai shihua [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. He Wenhuan (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1981), 591.

(31.) Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes, 38, has noted that in "This Terrace of Mine" Yuan Jie "invented characters to signify his ownership of the property, an act completed through naming and inscribing."

(32.) Ibid., 33-44.

(33.) Ibid., 37. For elaboration on the exilic experience in Tang landscape essays, see Spring, "T'ang Landscapes of Exile." Spring has rightfully warned (p. 318) against the "assumption that a writer should sound a certain way when he is in exile."

(34.) Comprehensive treatment of Yuan Jie's life can be found in Sun Wang's Yuan Cishan nianpu, David L. McMullen's "Y[ddot{u}]an Chieh and the Early Ku-wen Movement" (Ph.D. diss., Cambridge Univ., 1968), and Li Jiankun's Yuan Cishan shengping ji qi wenxue.

(35.) Jo-shui Chen, Intellectual Change, 180-87; Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes, 44; and H. C. Chang, Chinese Literature, 2: Nature Poetry (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1977), 103-5.

(36.) For the motif of "forgetting to return" (wanggui [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Liu Zongyuan's landscape essays and its relationships to the Chu ci ([CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) tradition, see Madeline K. Spring, "A Stylistic Study of Tang 'Guwen': The Rhetoric of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Washington, 1983), 304-5.

(37.) Jo-shui Chen, Intellectual Change, 182.

(38.) For discussion of this piece as an example of "attaching subjective terminology to particular places," see Spring, "T'ang Landscapes of Exile," 321.

(39.) For the story of the Foolish Old Man and Foolish Valley, see Shuo yuan quan yi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ed. Wang Ying and Wang Haitian (Guiyang: Guizhou renmin chubanshe, 1992), 268.

(40.) Lunyu, 13.3.

(41.) Ibid., 6.22.

(42.) Ibid., 2.9, 5.21. Note also the similar way in which Yuan Jie differentiates himself from the ancients in "This Terrace of Mine."

(43.) In 809, the year before he wrote "Preface to Poems on Foolish Creek," Liu Zongyuan expressed this idea in his letters to friends. See "Ji Xu Jingzhao Mengrong shu" (LZYJ, 783) and "Da Wu Wuling lun fei Guoyu shu" (LZYJ, 824). For the dating of Liu Zongyuan's works, see Shi Ziyu's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Liu Zongyuan nianpu (Wuhan: Hubei renmin chubanshe, 1957).

(44.) In contrast to the orthodox Confucian insistence on the correspondence between "name" and "reality," Liu Zongyuan seems to hold the view that the former may be dispensable as long as the latter is preserved. See, among other examples, "Zha shuo" (LZYJ, 457-59) and "Da Yan Houyu xiucai lun weishidao shu" (LZYJ, 878-79). Discussion of this topic is offered by Jo-shui Chen, Intellectual Change, 64-65.

(45.) See Wen xuan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1986), 45.2000-2004, 45.2005-12. For a recent study of the shelun [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] form, see Dominik Declercq, Writing against the State: Political Rhetorics in Third and Fourth Century China (Leiden: Brill, 1998). For treatment of the dialogue form in Liu Zongyuan's prose and its relationship to previous Chinese prose essays, see Gao Haifu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Liu Zongyuan sanlun [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe, 1985), 121-27.

(46.) Shanxiaoge xuan Tang dajia Liu Liuzhou quanji pingyu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] juan 4, excerpted in Wu Wenzhi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ed., Gudian wenxue yanjiu ziliao huibian: Liu Zangyuan Juan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1964), 501.

(47.) Han Liu wen yanjiufa: Liu wen yanjiu fa [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] excerpted in Wu Wenzhi, Gudian wenxue yanjiu ziliao huibian: Liu Zongyuan juan, 591.

(48.) Gentzler, "A Literary Biography of Liu Tsung-y[ddot{u}]an (Ph.D. diss., Columbia Univ., 1966), 263.

(49.) Jo-shui Chen, Intellectual Change, 183.

(50.) Liu Zongyuan's genuine admiration for the success of Emperor Xianzong in subduing the insurgent military governors is seen in his "Xian ping Huaiyi ya biao" and "Ping Huaiyi ya er pian" (LZYJ, 1-11).

(51.) Critics have noted that, in comparison with other records written during his exile in Yongzhou, the tone of "Record of an Excursion to Huang Creek" is much calmer and that his description of the landscape is less colored by his habitual feelings of self-pity. See, for example, Chen Xin et al., Lidai youji xuan yi: Han zhi Tangdai bufen, 268.

(52.) See Shi ji [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), 56.2991. Critics are divided as to whether Liu Zongyuan is imitating Sima Qian. Those who think he is are further divided as to whether his work benefits or suffers from the imitation. See Zhang Shizhao [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Liu wen zhiyao [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1971), 837-38. In any case, it should be pointed out that, stylistically speaking, there is nothing unusual or obviously imitative in Liu Zongyuan's introduction. In fact, the way it begins seems rather conventional in the genre of ji [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Tang times. Among other examples, one can name the beginning passages of Liu Zongyuan's "Yuanjiahe ji" (LZYJ, 768), Pei Tong's [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Jinting guan Jin Youjin shulou machi ji" (written in 807) in Quan Tang wen, 729.3332-33, and Bai Juyi's (772-846) "Lengquanting ji" (written in 823), in Bai Juyi ji jianjiao [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ed. Zhu Jincheng (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 1988), 2764.

(53.) Yimen dushu ji, 646.

(54.) Han Shu [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1962) 99.4106.

(55.) It is an interesting coincidence that Wang Mang, Wang Shuwen, and Wang Pi [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (d. 805) shared the same surname that played a vital role in Lin Zongyuan's "Huang Creek."

(56.) The choice of the word shan [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] apparently carries some moral connotation.

(57.) Strassberg, Inscribed Landscapes, 43-44.

(58.) See Han Yu, "Liuzhou Luochimiao bei," in Quan Tang wen, 561.2515.
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Date:Jan 1, 2000
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