Tao Yuanming - Free Essay Sample in World Literature

Published: 2022-03-01
Tao Yuanming - Free Essay Sample in World Literature
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Poem
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1765 words
15 min read

This book commences with the demise of Tao Yuanming. Over the years, he has come to be thought of as one of the greatest poets in China. The way his life has been portrayed over time has elevated him to the status of an icon. Studies bordering on canon formation indicate that writers achieve their reputation many generations after their deaths. Variations in their reception are not as a result of their works but a result of the requirements of critics and anthologists of different eras. Tao Yuanming's poetry was mostly dismissed after his demise, but he certainly was the object of a massive recovery if we could not name significant persons involved in the making of Tao's widely acknowledged personality.

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This book has enabled us to examine the processes involved in a cultural icon's creation. Under all circumstances, reception needs consider variations in styles of criticism and reading habits. Reception is a special topic in the history of Chinese literature due to its time span, the convenience of the literary corpus, and the relative stability language used in literature. The constant accumulation of a particular cultural wealth through shared texts and objectives of study recognized the literati elite members and guaranteed their privileges.

Until now the reception of Chinese historical literature has not made an impression as a study problem. Reception has, for a long time, been considered able to reveal transformations in practices of historical literature. The emergence of a reading culture in China can also be an important opening into shifts in values. A finding of how the reputation of an important figure is constructed in Chinese historical literati, methods of the caption of his literary works, and Tao Yuanming's canonization highlight the evolution of the literature in China. Critics have, for a long time, looked past the "author" and the language of the literary text to comprehend its meaning; one focal point of this attempt was the reader's dynamic involvement. Robert Jauss has been recognized constantly for introducing a past element to reception.

During the period in which historical literature did not have a reputation, Jauss, who wanted to reinstate history to the core of literature, wanted to convey the "relationship of work to work" to an "interaction between work and mankind." These "aesthetics of reception" border along the view, "literary work is not an object that stands by itself and that offers the same view to each reader in each period. It is not a monument that just reveals its timeless essence. It is much more like an orchestration that strikes new resonances ever among its readers and brings it to contemporary existence."The perspective through which the constant involvement of the audience maintains the historical literati, changing the center of attention between "the traditional aesthetics of production and representation" and "aesthetics of reception and influence" is what is at stake. This change of attention is caused by an acknowledgment: "the quality and rank of a literary work" is never exclusively due to "biographical or historical conditions of its origin," but, "from the criteria of influence, reception, and posthumous fame, criteria that are more difficult to grasp."

The approach by Jauss shows that the response by readers occurring in the "horizon of expectations," is anchored in the workings of the particular belief as well as its readers' cultural values. With the emerging literature as well as changing history altering the requirements by readers, there is a possibility of new interpretations of historical works. The assumption that variations in cultural attitudes determine both the insight of "the quality and rank of a literary work" and the reputation of its author is important if there is need to reach an understanding, that readers have inherited, of Tao Yuanming's works. Nevertheless, the clear difference that "biographical or historical conditions of [a work's] origin" bear from the readers' reception has not been vividly brought out through China's history. Therefore, there is need to establish the degree of distinction of the literature as opposed to assuming.

While the interest of Jauss in comprehending the reception of historical work is largely aimed at the objective of an improved comprehension of its meaning, an objective that necessitates a decision and citation of readings, it is clear that the author of this book does not intend to dwell on Tao's workings. On the contrary, he intends to concentrate on his making as a historical figure as well as factors that facilitated this. It does not evaluate claims against the works of Tao either. To the contrary, it makes an inquiry into the conditions that created a possibility of the claims in the first place.

It tries to find out what leads to the relevance of a given inquiry at a particular moment in history and not a previous one. Therefore, this method is different from the one that examines the reaction of periods that follow to look into the author's intention. That eventually searches probes for answers about an author's reception in his works later on. My focal point is the interpretations of readers to the works of Tao. Particularly, my attention is more on issues that go beyond his literary works, for instance, cultural demands and vocabulary of interested readers.

I consider such a method helpful in explaining the very distinctive perceptions on Tao and the different manners of reading his literary works over the years. This was a collective process facilitated by dialogue that lasted 1500 years involving three classifications that were the center of literary culture: poetry, reclusion, and personality. Tao was not just an imaginary figure and a reflection on the mirror individuals is reading about him. In fact, there are a few things we know about his life. He originated from a small family which, even though it lacked the privilege to access high office, boasted of a remarkable practice service in government.

His great-grandfather, the renowned General Tao Kan, was installed as commandeer due to the role he played in suppressing a rebellion, and thus creating stability for the incoming government. Tao Mao, his grandfather, was the governor of Wuchang. He also had a maternal grandfather known as Meng Jia, who was a higher-ranking aide to possibly the most influential person in Southern China, Huan Wen. These great ancestors only served as ideal models for Tao because during his lifetime; his family did not have any of its wealth and prestige.

Most scholars still disagree on the details of his birth, but a accepted date of birth is 365.10. He died at the age of 62, but scholars have brought forward varying dates of his death based on different interpretations. Tao's first time in office came quite late in his life and with his retirement also coming early. He held some junior posts and resigned as he moved on to the next until his last one in 405. He also served under Liu Yu and Huan Xuan in his career days. Both these men later tried to oust the Jin, Huan was unsuccessful in his attempt in 403 while Liu did it successfully in 420. These attempts to overthrow the Jin were representative of the political instability in the Jin's last decades. After retirement from his final job in 405, Tao Yuanming became a farmer in his later years in the region of Xunyang.

He encountered the delight of self-reliance as well as the difficulties of life as a farmer. The reclusive life of Tao Yuanming, however, did not isolate him from people and things he loved. He loved his wine, and even though he was always drinking alone, he was friendly. He often socialized with elite members, officials in his local area, and neighboring farmers. He gained a lot of fame during his life as a loner. During this period, he also found time to author most of his celebrated works. His extensive works include more than 120 poems, ten prose works, and three rhapsodies in a variety of genres. His subgenres also include poems written on official duty and exchange poems. In the majority of his prose works and poems, reclusion has been his point of reference.

The poems he wrote while he held office also communicated his desire to leave office. He had writings that made vivid his pleasures in seclusion: writing poems, leisure, and drinking wine for his enjoyment. He also wrote on the struggles of agriculture and poverty which he conveyed through these lines: "At dusk, we would think of the cock crow, at dawn, we hoped the crow would cross quickly." Once in a while, he wrote of the disappointment of the aspirations of his younger self and his failure to accomplish anything.

Nevertheless, the two acts that characterize a majority of his works are integrity and resolve. Tao also wrote pieces about himself on a few occasions. He spoke about his fears, wants, and fancies. The clear presence of an autobiographical element to his works raised two questions: 1. what agency has been provided in coming up with a personal reception? 2. How much did his self-assessment define interpretations of his works in later years? The nature of his autobiographical works is a critical subject because it borders along peripheral issues which are still important to the core story.

My thoughts encourage a debate between ideas of representation, as seen in his autobiography, and the reception of readers stressed by a variety of responses to Tao that lack the alignment to principles he had set himself. The outstanding autobiographical aspect in his works certainly highlighted his character with ongoing deliberations of Tao's writings, including conventional China where "personality" is usually incorporated in the works. The importance of the biography in the analysis of the works of a writer varied significantly among various traditions. During those times, across the West, the readers had no interest in the character of a writer. It was only during the "individualization of creativity-an epoch which cultivated subjectivism in the artistic process-[that] the name and personality of the author came to the forefront."

Overall, my choice of sources for the themes- reclusion, poetry, and personality- has been illustrated through these major discussions. This review of Tao Yuanming's works follows the developments in his reception over time, carefully scrutinizing prominent views. The book examines, as a whole, core factors that affect the culture of the Chinese. This book also attempts to clarify the makings of the scholarly discussions that continue to recreate Tao but still preserve his historical work. As much as a writer may not be widely acknowledged by readers in his generation, situational factors later on in life may lead to acceptance of his works in later generations.

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