Imitations of the Self: Jiang Yan and Chinese Poetics


Imitations of the Self reevaluates the poetry of Jiang Yan (444–505), long underappreciated because of its pervasive reliance on allusion, by emphasizing the self-conscious artistry of imitation. In context of “imitation poetry,” the popular genre of the Six Dynasties era, Jiang’s work can be seen as the culmination of central trends in Six Dynasties poetry. His own life experiences are encoded in his poetry through an array of literary impersonations, reframed in traditional literary forms that imbue them with renewed significance. A close reading of Jiang Yan’s poetry demonstrates the need to apply models of interpretation to Chinese poetry that do justice to the multiplicity of authorial self-representation.

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Nicholas Morrow Williams, Ph.D. (University of Washington, 2010), is research assistant professor at the Mr. Simon Suen and Mrs. Mary Suen Sino-Humanitas Institute, Hong Kong Baptist University. He has published various articles on Chinese poetry and its intellectual context.
Of broad interest to students of Chinese literature, and readers of poetry in general, and essential for those interested in the culture of medieval China.
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