The Past and Temporality in the Everyday Present: A Study of Lu You’s Poetry in the History of the Shi Genre

Project: Research project

Project Details


With a long, prolific, and influential career spanning the second half of the twelfth century and through the first decade of the thirteenth, Lu You produced a rich collection of poems that allows us to take a sustained look into the issues of the past as it shaped the literary pursuits in the mid-Southern Song. He was very much a product of his time in his manner of writing, committing himself to discover poetry in small moments of ordinary life and seeking to record them exhaustively with a sense of urgency and compulsion. But in a deeply personal turn, he directly engaged the central questions about the nature, function, and methods of writing poetry in his time – and of literary writing and learning in general. Poetry was the very ground where he sought to work out the deep and persistent questions about poetry: what did it mean for him to be a poet, and what was the place of poetry among a scholar’s commitments in vast continuity of the past, the present, and the future. At the very least, poetry to Lu You was a daily commitment, or as he himself put it, a habit that had become second nature. In a poetics primarily grounded in the everyday present, strands of ideal, historical, literary, and autographical past are structured into the experiences of the present in varied and interesting ways. The sense of temporality in Lu You’s poetry – of experiences oriented in a present imbued with the meaning of the past while gesturing toward the future – is a manifestation of the poet’s directly engagement with the issues about learning and the received textual tradition that defined the course of Song poetry up to and during his time. To a great extent, these questions also have and still shape the reception of Song poetry through the modern era. This project seeks to conduct a literary historical study of Lu You’s poetry, to address these broader issues based on a focused study of the past taking shape as it is mediated by the poet in the poem’s temporality.
Effective start/end date1/07/201/09/20


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