Defining experience: The "poems of seductive allure" (Yanshi) of the mid-Tang poet Yuan Zhen (779-831)

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Yuan Zhen's "poems of seductive allure" (yanshi), or what remains of them, point to a new interest in romantic subject matter in the mid-Tang. But unlike other writers of his era, Yuan Zhen attempted to integrate his romantic poems into his corpus by defending them as didactic pieces-poems that could stimulate moral reform by their negative example. This article examines the specific literary and historical contexts for Yuan Zhen's unusual defense of romantic verse. It argues that Yuan's efforts to include his romantic poetry in a broad schema of literature were consistent with many of his other statements on the nature and purpose of literature. Furthermore, although Yuan was unique in his defense of romance, his challenge to the traditional boundaries of literati writing link him to other mid-Tang writers who were also contesting inherited definitions of more "appropriate" topics and texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-78
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Oriental Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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