A tale of two worlds: The late tang poetic presentation of the romance of the peach blossom font

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Abstract

This article examines late Tang poetic representations of the early fifth-century tale of Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao's romance with divine maidens at a Shangri-La-like peach blossom font. Shi poems by such poets as Liu Yuxi (772-822) and Yuan Zhen (779-831), and a group of Huajian ("among the flowers") ci poems under the tune "Nüguanzi" ("The Daoist Priestess") by Wen Tingyun (ca. 812-866) and others, reveal the exploration of the old tale as a rich source of allegorical tropes. In particular, the late Tang poets consistently revitalize the Liu-Ruan tale's bifurcation between the immortal and the mortal worlds, a division between "two worlds" that enabled them to express a range of different meanings at different levels, for example in politics or when talking of love affairs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-245
Number of pages37
JournalT'oung Pao
Volume94
Issue number4-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History and Philosophy of Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • "Nüguanzi" ("The Daoist Priestess")
  • Alienation and recognition
  • Allegory
  • Grotto
  • Seduction and abandonment
  • Two worlds

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