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On Ssu-k’ung T’u’s Shih-p’in

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image of Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

This paper was drafted by Achilles Fang (1910–1995) who was a senior lecturer of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University. The paper is kept in Harvard University Archives. According to Achilles Fang’s description in the first edition, “The first draft of this iconoclastic paper was drafted in the early 1960’s and, after lying in dust for more than a decade was edited by the late John Lyman Bishop for Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. I have, however, held it back all this while not out of timidity. But I have found it futile to complete the demolition of the rest of the 24 poems as thoroughly I made with half of them. But those who are unabashed in their schwarmerei for this patently forged document (forged was it in spite of endorsement meted out in the Ssu-k’u Catalogue (195) and silence of Yu Chia-hsi in his Ssu-k’u t’i-yao pien-cheng, and Chang Hsin-ch’eng in Wei-shu t’ung-k’ao, will understand why I broke down my long-lasting reticence about their sacred cow: I am paying a fitting tribute to the memory of the man whom I miss as Chuang Chou missed Hui Shih. Fitting it should be, for my demolition finds its justification in the cope-stone unearthed by Bishop about 1945 somewhere in China: I am grateful to him for presenting me with his copy of a rubbing of three (Nos. 1, 6, 7) of the Shih-p’in poems attributed to Ssu-k’ung T’u (837–908) supposedly in the holograph of Yen Chen-ch’ing (709–785).” In a word, Achilles Fang found that Erh-shih-ssu Shih-p’in was a forgery and Ssu-k’ung T’u was not the original author of it.


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