Catching Butterflies: A Stylistic Approach to Classical Chinese Ci-Poetry
Issue: Vol 2 No. 3 (2006)
Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences
Adopting a linguistic-based stylistic approach, this article proposes a new interpretation of classical Chinese ci-poetry by Li Yu (937-978) and Li Qingzhao (1084-1155?). Based on Halliday's Functional Grammar, analysing the three contextual meanings interwoven in the dense fabric of the poetic discourse, taking into account also of deviation and foregrounding, this study challenges the traditional Chinese dichotomy of wanyue and haofang schools. It argues that although both Li Yu and Li Qingzhao are regarded as, arguably, most important representative poets of wanyue style, their poetry is in fact quite different from wanyue convention. By accounting for certain judgments of value made on an intuitive basis by a comparatively objective and consistent procedure, this paper hopes to shed new light on the characteristics of the lyrics by Li Yu and Li Qingzhao. It also demonstrates how a combination of traditional Chinese scholarship - marked for the most part by its intuitive and impressionistic approach - and a more systematic and analytical Western methodology may enlarge the horizons of Chinese literary studies, while also enhancing the ability of Westerners to appreciate classical Chinese poetry.
Author: Ping Wang