Dissertation > Literature > Chinese Literature > The body of literature reviews and research > Prose, mixed with > Ancient ( to 1840 )

An Initial Inquiry on Yuan Hongdao’s Prose Theory

Author WangYang
Tutor LiuFei
School Anhui University
Course Literature and Art
Keywords Yuan Hongdao Xing Ling prose theory the generalization of prose
CLC I207.62
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
Downloads 209
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Yuan Hongdao (1568-1610),alias Zhonglang, was a leader of the Gong’an School, in important iterary genre which advocated innovation and opposed to restoring ancient ways in late Ming Dynasty. He made a distinguished contribution in ancient Chinese literary theory. Yuan’s poetic act mostly came about in the late 16th and the early 17th centuries when capitalism had bred from the feudal society and people were obviously eager to be free from the feudal governance ideologically. Hongdao set foot on his extraordinary journey of life in the epoch of new thoughts and Li Zhi was where he got the direct inspiration of his ideas which were considered heretical then. A primary investigation is carried out in the comparison between Yuan and Li in the paper. Hongdao advocated "the voicing of personality", which means the writers should use their own language to express the true feelings. He not only freed the writers devoted to the liberal delivery of personality from spiritual bondages, but also made a higher demand in cultivating good personalities and creating more excellent works. Despite the novelty and elegance of his prose, such negative moods as self-indulgence, decadence and excessive pursuit of happiness are more or less illustrated in his travel notes and letters, which just well demonstrates the "genuineness" of Hongdao. Therefore, we should learn from Yuan Hongdao critically because we are,after all, social beings. This paper is focused on a preliminary exploration of Yuan’s literary theory, a reduction of Yuan’s life and his poetic ideas from a new perspective, and an indepth study of his literary values as well as its indelible contribution and far-reaching influence on the literary creation of the Qing Dynasty and even contemporary and modern times bringing new life to the present over-generalized prose creation.This thesis plans to interpret Yuan’s literary theory in five chapters. The first chapter aims at finding out the loss and gain of Yuan’s literary thought in contrast to the evolution of Gong’an School, of which Yuan is viewed as a member. The second chapter mainly illustrates the manifestation of his literary theory, in which such materials as his authentic proses are provided as proof. His Literary ideas such as the advocating of "the voicing of personality disregarding forms","interest", "earthliness","plainness", "genuineness","not imitating the ancient and chasing novelty","rhyme"and "character" are valuable and cherishable even in today. Chapter III discusses Yuan’s humanness and literary features based on a large number of his essays like travel notes and letters.Chapter IV focuses on the status and influence of Yuan’s ideas, particularly emphasizing the impact of his sketches and notes and its theory on the vignettes in late Ming Dynasty, "Jing Ling School", Yuan Mei of "Xing Ling School ",the New Culture Movement, Lin Yutang and Wang Zengqi etc, during which a certain amount of attention is given to the present strange phenomena in prose creation.It also offers a supplementary summary of academic evaluation of Yuan’s literary theory.Hongdao’s prose theory still shines today after a long course of so many years in history which demonstrates its enduring values. Even though some of his literary ideas are defective, the majority of his literary ideas deserve our academic research. When evaluating a literary phenomenon, we have to want to restore its historical context, in which its proper value can be found. This is precisely what the writer wishes to gain in the paper writing.

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