Wang Kuo-wei’s Jen-chien Tz’u-hua
A Study in Chinese Literary Criticism
ISBN : 978-962-209-003-3
152 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″
In the first decade of the twentieth century while other intellectuals were concerned with translating works of political and scientific import into Chinese, Wang Kuo-wei (1877–1927) looked to Western philosophy to find answers to the fundamental questions of human life. He was the first Chinese to translate Schopenhauer and Nietzsche into Chinese and to apply their views of aesthetics to Chinese literature. The influence of their concepts of genius and the sublime can easily be seen in his Jen-chien tz’u-hua 人間詞話. Wang was also indebted to Chinese critics for the development of his theories regarding the sphere of individuality that each poem represents (ching-chieh), a theory that places him among the ranks of China’s greatest literary critics. Innovative as he was in his concepts of poetry, however, Wang chose to convey those concepts in the traditional form of poetic criticism, the tz’u-hua, or “talks on poetry”. Thus this translation of the complete edition of his Jen-chien tz’u-hua not only adds to the Westerner’s knowledge of Chinese literary criticism but also provides insight into the way in which Chinese communicated with each other about their literature.