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Conflicting discourse and the discourse of conflict: Eremitism and the pastoral in the poetry of Ruan Dacheng (C.1587-1646)

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Chapter Summary

The late-Ming politician and dramatist Ruan Dacheng (c.1587- 1646) has suffered from a bad press since at least the 1620s, when he threw in his lot with the party at court associated with the name of the powerful eunuch Wei Zhongxian (1568-1627), in opposition to the Eastern Grove (Donglin) faction. This chapter is to take as a starting point those of Ruan’s poems which are particularly concerned with his own and his family’s gardens, both in Anqing and in Nanjing, and to examine them in relation to some themes which play a large part in them, the eremitic, the pastoral, and the political. The long sequence of poems on the Baizi Hill Villa (B.3) provides a good illustration of Ruan’s interest in eremitism, while its striking imagery reminds us of his association with the Gong’an school.

Keywords: Baizi Hill Villa; eremitism; Ruan Dacheng

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