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Confucian Prophet: Political Thought In Du Fu’s Poetry (752–757) By David K. Schneide ...

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Confucian Prophet:


Du Fu’s 杜甫 (712–770) place in Chinese literary history is second to none. This book argues that he also deserves a prominent place in the history of ideas and political thought. The philosophical reading of literary texts involves work in the no-man’s-land between literary criticism and political thought. Even in the Western humanities and social sciences, few have dared to emerge from their respective trenches to engage the other. In East Asian studies this field is virtually nonexistent. This, to my knowledge, is the first attempt to apply such an interdisciplinary approach to a significant body of poetry in the Chinese tradition.

This is surprising given the intimate relationship between politics and literature from the very earliest stages of Chinese civilization. And it is especially surprising in the case of a poet such as Du Fu, who, as this book argues, was one of the first writers to emerge from the cataclysmic political events of his time, the An Lushan 安祿山 (703–757) Rebellion of 755 and the Tang political crisis that preceded it, events that prompted one of the great ages of political and cultural reassessment in Chinese history. That Du’s poems of this age are powerful and moving critiques of Tang politics and society is universally recognized. But there is no study that attempts to delineate and define the political ideas that underlie those