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Who is the Poet?: Focusing on the Symbol of the Star and the Negative Self? Imagery in Modern Chinese Poetry

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2008, (12), pp.51-69
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2008..12.004
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture

Woo Kwang Jung 1

1숙명여자대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to illustrate the modern Chinese poet's self-image, especially focusing on the symbol of the star and the negative self imagery in modern Chinese poetry. While emphasizing self-expression and standing against the sweeping tide of sociocultural literature brought about by the advent of baihua or "plain language," modern Chinese poets attempt to find answers to both fundamental questions What is poetry? and Who is the poet? The frequent use of the star symbol implies the modern Chinese poet's role for two reasons. First, it purposely suggests the poet's conception of poetry as transcendent over mundane world, thus, the value of poetry is determined not by the usefulness in practical reality but by the aesthetic merit. Second, the poet is essentially a tragic figure who is destined to death as day breaks. Therefore, the modern Chinese poets are more concerned not only with displaying their high ideals of being ignored from the society but also with emphasizing the feeling of loneliness, tragic destiny, and esoterica. Another important characteristic of modern Chinese poetry is the abundance and signification of unconventional- and negative self imagery: an idler, a beggar, a nightwalker, a traveler, a blind fortune-teller, a monk, a dreamer, and a night watchman beating clappers. All of these images are sociocultural outsiders one would see in daily life of that time. These recurrent imagery reflect the modern Chinese poet's miserable and socioculturally exiled situation.

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