Li Bo (701-762) has long inspired controversy among readers and critics. Known even during his lifetime as the "Banished Immortal," he continues to spark imaginations and challenge passionately held convictions about poetic values. In this lucid and gracefully written volume, Paula Varsano presents the first full-length study of Li Bo in English in half a century and the first extended look at the poet's critical reception. Persuaded that the essence of his poetry lay well beyond the reach of the usual modes of study and description, readers from the ninth to the twentieth century developed a particularly dynamic critical language. Varsano shows how this language, evolving out of the critical concepts of "emptiness" and "substance," answered the need to conceptualize shifting parameters of poetic creativity over hundreds of years. At the same time, she offers an account of Li Bo's entry into the canon and asks how this in turn transformed both the reception of his work and the transmission of his poetic persona. This story of Li Bo's critical reception and canonization is propelled by the malleable and elusive ideal of the "ancient." And so, Varsano devotes the second part of her study to the poems themselves, investigating those poetic manifestations of ancientness that translated into the enduring figure of the Banished Immortal.
Subjects: Language & Literature, History
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