Papers on Premodern Literature V

Poetry I
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room C

  • Chaired by Friederike Assandri
  • Victoria Bogushevskaya, “’Words Departed on Tiptoe’: On 藏詞 ‘Hidden Words’ and 歇後 ‘Omitted Tails’”
  • Hyun Höchsmann, “The Book of Odes and the Homeric Epics”
  • Jing He, “One Word Puzzle: A Case Study on tui wen 退顐 Term from the Ode of the Swallow (Version A) 燕子赋”
  • Kuniko Ukai, “From Genre to Mere Literary Device: The Dismantling of the Traditional yuefu

Victoria Bogushevskaya, “’Words Departed on Tiptoe’: On 藏詞 ‘Hidden Words’ and 歇後 ‘Omitted Tails’”

The 藏詞 ‘hidden words’ calembour implies leaving out one or more components from idiomatic units or quotations from famous essays or poems. Originally employed by Cáo Pī, Pān Yuè, and Táo Yuānmíng, this type of language conundrum flourished during the Táng-Sòng era and developed into the 藏頭 ‘hidden-head,’ 藏腰 ‘hidden-middle,’ and 縮腳 ‘shortened,’ or 歇後 ‘omitted-tail’ forms, with the communicative value encoded in the “footprints” of their missing components.
The ‘hidden-head’ form can be expressed via direct (e.g., Dù Fǔ uses the expression 昭回 ‘shining and revolving’ as a substitution for 雲漢, lit. ‘milky way,’ which derives from the line of Ode 258 of the Shījīng) or reversed (as 厥修 ‘their cultivating […]’ < 修厥德 ‘cultivating their virtue’ in the Tángyǔlín) substitutions, or via allusions. The ‘hidden-middle’ form occurs in the poem by Hán Yù (where 居諸 substitutes 日月 and is crystallised from the Shījīng’s 日居月諸, lit. “O, sun, o moon!”) and Gōng Zìzhēn (where 去日多 substitutes 苦 ‘sufferings’ and derives from Caó Cāo’s “Short Song”). The most frequently employed ‘omitted-tail’ type (e.g., 三尺 ‘a three-chǐ’, 一抔 ‘a handful’) inspired the consequent development of ‘omitted-tail’ poems and the sayings back then referred to as 歇後語 ‘tailless puns.’
All these truncated precedent phenomena should not be confused with metonymy, on one side, and with an ellipsis, aposiopesis, or prosiopesis, on the other.

Hyun Höchsmann, “The Book of Odes and the Homeric Epics”

“The morning glory climbs above my head,
Pale flowers of white and purple, blue and red” (Book of Odes).
Accompanying himself on the zither in the grove of apricots, while his disciples were studying, Confucius might well have sung this ode. At the origin of philosophy in China and Greece (Laozi’s Dao De Jing and the texts of Presocratic philosophers) the philosophical ideas were expressed in poetic form and language. The conception of the nature and origin of the universe in Homer’s poems subsequently developed into substantial scientific and philosophical topics in Presocratic thought.
The Homeric epics and the Book of Odes are imbued with ideas and perceptions of universal resonance and dynamic awareness of the vivid encounters in life. The themes common to the Book of Odes and the Homeric epics comprise friendship and love, the tragedy of strife and war, the transience of life, and the constancy of nature. In the poetic traditions of China and Greece, the function of poetry in the political sphere was emphasised.
Building on Fritz-Heiner Mutschler’s The Homeric Epics and the Chinese Book of Songs: Foundational Texts Compared and François Jullien’s Le Détour et l’accès: Stratégies du sens en Chine, en Grèce, a study of similarities and differences in moral, social, and political values and beliefs in the Homeric epics and the Book of Odes can lead to a broader understanding of the fundamental aspects of the cultures in which they have originated. Of the Book of Odes and the Homeric epics, it might be said:
“… like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance”(Homer, Iliad).

Jing He, “One Word Puzzle: A Case Study on tui wen 退顐 Term from the Ode of the Swallow (Version A) 燕子赋”

Dunhuang manuscripts Ode of the Swallow 燕子賦 (Version A) contain a word 退顐 (tui wen) which has four different written forms in eight different versions stored in Great Britain and France. There has been a long debate about its original meaning, which has influenced the understanding of the content and text’s functional nature. Detailed study of Dunhuang manuscripts stored in Russia, as well as British and French versions of the Ode of the Swallow (Version A), makes it possible to identify a standard written form of this word. According to the clues found in literary works of Tang and Song dynasties, it can be further determined that there is a close relationship between this phrase and the dramatic performance known as “xi nong” 戲弄 in Tang dynasty. The relationship between 退顐 tui wen, which is a word from colloquial or half-colloquial language, and specific terms used in xi nong of Tang dynasty (唐戲弄) should be regarded as a typical case of the shift from late Tang dynasty’s literary language to the folk language. At the same time, if the Ode of the Swallow has a function of a play script, it is also worth thorough investigation.

Kuniko Ukai, “From Genre to Mere Literary Device: The Dismantling of the Traditional yuefu

Scholars generally agree that the genre of the traditional yuefu, as defined by Allen (1992) and Matsuura (1982), reached its zenith and the beginning of its decline in the late High Tang. This paper will analyse one of the ways in which yuefu were henceforth typically written: using a traditional yuefu title, but incorporating only the themes, plot and ingredients which the title entails while ignoring the generic prescriptions. The final product is a quite individual and often personal non-yuefu poem. I will analyse three types of such non-yuefu poems: (1) Poems about customs of a certain region: These use yuefu elements concerning a certain region as a stage on which the common people’s life is depicted. The yuefu titles staged in the South are most often used for this type. (2) Poems about the personal situation and emotions of the poet: In these, the yuefu’s elements are only a convenient device to enhance the emotional situation or strengthen its point, as it is explicitly made by the poet. (3) Poems enacting the proliferation of meaning: In these, the poet manipulates his language in such a way as to make the poem ultimately not fit in with the yuefu’s prescription, although the surface of the poem’s text gives the reader at first glance the impression that this is a normal yuefu.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room C
Poetry II