- 6 x 9.
- 27 photographs, 2 maps.
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- $34.95 U.S.
In 1737, an obscure painter, poet, and scholar, Shi Zhenlin, published a dreamy rambling memoir in which he described a talented and persecuted peasant woman poet named Shuangqing. Because of her exquisite beauty, people assumed she was a banished immortal, a divine being expelled from Heaven for one incarnation in the human realm. Shi Zhenlin quoted many of Shuangqing's poems and song lyrics, and in the following two centuries, she became famous as China's only great peasant woman poet.
Using Shi Zhenlin's memoir as a window on Chinese literary culture in the eighteenth century, Paul Ropp traces the evolution of Shuangqing's place in Chinese culture from the eighteenth century to the present. Ropp also takes account of his own journey of discovery, exploring how one historian goes about reconstructing China's past and breathing life into it. Several chapters and many illustrations feature his 1997 investigative trip to Jintan and Danyang, the rural counties in Jiangsu Province where Shuangqing supposedly lived.
This highly personal account is designed to introduce a general audience to the pleasures, pitfalls, rigors, and surprises involved in the exploration of China's rich cultural heritage. Readers won't help but become full participants in this most intriguing search for China's peasant woman poet.