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5. Poetry as a Vehicle of Grief詩可以怨

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is based on a talk delivered at Waseda University. The author argues that "poetry as a vehicle of grief" was a literary tenet in pre-modern China. Poetic expression has been likened by Nietzsche to the hen's cackle, both "induced by pain". The homely analogy is in complete agreement with a view accepted in the Chinese literary tradition, the view that pain engenders poetry more than pleasure does, that good poetry is an expression or discharge of the emotions of unhappiness, anxiety or frustration. Sima Qian is the first writer to deny that the claims of pain and of pleasure are equal. Chen Zilong believes that the eulogistic poems are veiled satirical expressions. The views of He Xiu and Chen Zilong are mutually complementary. It is better to recognize the existence of a problem and not able to solve it, than not to acknowledge its existence at all.

Keywords: Chen Zilong; China; He Xiu; Nietzsche; poetry; Sima Qian; vehicle of grief



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