郅治之極思——「符命」文類迂迴的文本策略
Utopian Visions in Disguise: The “Fu ming” Genre and Its Intricate Textual Strategies

2018/2019 School of Chinese Research Student Seminar

Utopian Visions in Disguise: The “Fu ming” Genre and Its
Intricate Textual Strategies
郅治之極思——「符命」文類迂迴的文本策略

Chan Chok Meng 陳竹茗

February 22, 2019 (Friday); 5:30-6:45pm
Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: English

Under the subcategory “Fu ming” (lit. “portents for the mandate”), juan 48 of the Wen xuan collects three panegyrics composed in the Han dynasty. The glorifying, if not sycophantic, nature of the understudied pieces often obscures the fact that they are highly imaginative compositions within a hybrid literary genre.

Out of political zeal, Sima Xiangru (179–117 BCE) not only extolled the contemporary regime as the best one since time immemorial, but went so far to say the Han dynasty’s (Fire) virtue nourished the realm so that all living beings benefited from its grace. Yang Xiong (53 BCE–18 CE) then modelled his “Ju Qin mei Xin” on Sima’s “Fengshan wen” and refined this fu-inspired panegyrical style by dropping the fictionalized dialogue and didactic admonishment, employing no less fanciful extended metaphors, and enumerating even more signs of a utopian world of great peace. But it is Ban Gu (32–92 CE) who perfected the genre and took the laudatory mode to the extreme. His “Dian yin” harks back to the genesis of the world as Yang did, while portraying the “Fire Virtue” as the generative force behind all things and making the bold suggestion that human history has paved the way for Han rulership, even the order of the universe depends upon it.

Inspired by David R. Knechtges’ close reading and literary interpretation of the Yang Xiong piece (“Uncovering the Sauce Jar,” 1978), this talk analyzes how the three panegyrists deployed intricate textual strategies to project the image of the Chinese “philosopher king” onto the reigning emperor, and in so doing, extolled their vision of an ideal Confucian state under the guise of an apparent eulogy on emperorship.

《文選》卷48立「符命」一體,內收漢代三篇鴻文。文章頗盡歌功頌德之能事,後世多以其跡近頌諛而橫加鄙夷,實質三文想像奇偉,且博採眾體之長,誠為一時之極思。

漢武期時,司馬相如(字長卿,前179–前117)出於政治熱情,不單盛稱漢家為史上最偉大的王朝,甚至揚言炎漢之德足以令「懷生之類,霑濡浸潤」,「昆蟲闓懌,回首面內」。及至新朝,揚雄(字子雲,前53–18)即仿其〈封禪文〉而作〈劇秦美新〉,通過去掉虛擬對話和說教諷諫、構思奇巧的延申隱喻,並羅列更多大平盛世的跡象,進一步提煉這種深受大賦影響的頌體文風。不過真正把「符命」一體寫至靡麗典則,將歌頌模式推至極端的當推東漢史家兼賦家班固(字孟堅,32–92)。其〈典引〉不單模仿揚雄的文本策略,由混沌未開說起,將「火德」描繪成形塑萬物的烟熅元氣,更大膽提出人類歷史一直預為劉漢統治天下鋪路,以至宇宙乾坤懸繫於此。

1978年康達維教授發表其大作〈發醬瓿之覆〉(“Uncovering the Sauce Jar”),從純文學角度對〈劇秦美新〉作文本細讀和深入詮釋,是次講座即受其啟發,分析三位文豪如何運用迂迴而巧妙的文本策略,將聖王的形象投射到在位者身上,在贊美帝德之隆的頌文裏,曲折道出心目中的「郅隆之治」。

ALL ARE WELCOME!