One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China 0674504372, 9780674504370

The friendships of writers of the mid-Tang era (780s-820s)--between literary giants like Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, Han Yu

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One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China
 0674504372, 9780674504370

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One Who Knows Me

Harvard-Yenching Institute Monographs 96

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One Who Knows Me Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China

Anna M. Shields

Published by the Harvard University Asia Center Distributed by Harvard University Press Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London 2015

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©

2015 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

Printed in the United States of America The Harvard-Yenching Institute, founded in 1928, is an independent foundation dedicated to the advancement of higher education in the humanities and social sciences in Asia. Headquartered on the campus of Harvard University, the Institute provides fellowships for advanced research, training, and graduate studies at Harvard by competitively selected faculty and graduate students from Asia. The Institute also supports a range of academic activities at its fifty partner universities and research institutes across Asia. At Harvard, the Institute promotes East Asian studies through annual contributions to the Harvard-Yenching Library and publication of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies and the Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Shields, Anna M., 1966One Who Knows Me : Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China / Anna M. Shields. -- 1st edition. p. cm. -- (Harvard-Yenching Institute monograph series ; 96) ISBN 978-0-674-50437-0 (hardcover) 1. Chinese literature--Tang dynasty, 618-907--History and criticism. 2. Friendship in literature. 3. Friendship--China--History--To 1500. 4. Authors, Chinese--Relations with men--History. I. Title. II. Title: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China. PL2291.S48 2015 895.109’003--dc23 2014033428 Index by the author Printed on acid-free paper Last figure below indicates year of this printing 20 19 18 17 16 15

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Figuring Friendship chapter one Contexts for Friendship in Mid-Tang Literary Culture The Discourse of Friendship Historical Patterns Social and Cultural Contexts

chapter two Building Networks: Friendship, Patronage, and Celebrity Seeking a Patron: Writing for the zhiji Selling Meng Jiao: Friendship and Patronage Becoming Bai Juyi: Friendship and Celebrity

chapter three Responding in Kind: Friendship and Poetic Exchange Mid-Tang Perspectives on Poetic Exchange and Friendship Collaboration and Competition: The Linked Verses of Han Yu and Meng Jiao Contesting the Past: The Nostalgic Exchanges of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen

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25 29 48 61

82 95 101 115

133 142 159 173

chapter four To Know and Be Known: The Epistemology of Friendship

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Epistemological Dimensions of Letters to Friends Understanding: Using the Knowledge of Friendship Misunderstanding: Negotiating Criticism and Conflict Coda: In the Absence of Knowledge

205 214 239 256

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chapter five For the Dead and the Living: Performing Friendship after Death

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Funerary Inscriptions for Friends Offering Texts and the Performance of Friendship Writing the Life and Death of Han Yu

273 283 310

conclusion Selected Bibliography Index

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330 339 357

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Acknowledgments

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t is perhaps inevitable that the work of writing a book about friendship should reshape one’s understanding of its many forms, tensions, and unexpected complexities. This was certainly true for me. In particular, I have come to appreciate keenly the power of a creative scholarly community to sustain and challenge its individual members over distance, time, and the vicissitudes of careers. This book was written in many places over a longer stretch of years than planned, but in the process, it grew and changed in important ways, and with the help of many thoughtful listeners and readers, it became a much better work. I began the project at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, where I was assistant, then associate professor of Chinese. But the project was book-ended, as it were, by two very timely research fellowships. I laid the foundations of the work in 2005–2006 with the generous support of a Research Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I am deeply grateful to the NEH for the support, without which I could not have completed the first translations and publications that later became parts of chapters. In the final stages of completing the manuscript in 2012, I received a Dean’s Fellowship from the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This one-semester leave from teaching was essential for finishing the project, and I would like to express my gratitude to the College and to UMBC.

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In the years between those fellowships, I had the opportunity to present parts of this work at Harvard University; the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; Cornell University; the University at Albany; McDaniel College; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Arizona State University; Columbia University; and Fudan University, as well as at the annual meetings of the American Oriental Society, the Western Branch of the AOS, and the Association of Asian Studies. The questions, comments, and discussions that came from these presentations were invaluable, and I am grateful for the engagement of so many attentive colleagues and students. Since 2005, I also have been fortunate enough to use the outstanding research collection of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a resource that I hope more scholars will consult. I would like to thank the dedicated librarians and staff in the Asian Division, who have assisted me in retrieving books and using online sources. An earlier version of the discussion of nostalgic poetry in chapter 3 appeared as “Remembering When: The Uses of Nostalgia in the Poetry of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 66.2 (2006): 321–61; earlier versions of parts of chapters 4 and 5 appeared in “The Limits of Knowledge: Three Han Yu Letters to Friends, 799–802,” T’ang Studies 22 (2004), 41–80, and “Words for the Dead and the Living: Innovations in the Mid-Tang ‘Prayer Text’ (jiwen祭文),” T’ang Studies 25 (2007): 111–46. My thanks to the former HJAS and T’ang Studies editors, Joanna Handlin Smith and Ding Xiang Warner, for their editorial assistance in publishing those pieces. I owe a great debt to some close readers for their scrutiny of this work, as well, and I am extremely grateful for their longstanding support. Professors Michael Fuller and Anthony DeBlasi provided years of incisive comments on papers and chapters as they evolved, from the earliest stages through the very end. When I was completing the manuscript, Professor Robert Hymes was kind enough to read the entire work and give me extensive comments and suggestions on each chapter. In that same year, the two readers for the Press, Professor Paul W. Kroll and another anonymous reader, read the manuscript with great care and provided many useful suggestions for improving the work. I would like to thank these readers once again for their efforts on my behalf. Hearty thanks go also to Kristen Wanner, my thoughtful and careful editor at

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the Asia Center, for her work on the manuscript in its last stages. All errors and infelicities that remain are of course my own. Finally, my gratitude goes to the zhiwozhe closest to home and heart: my husband, Stephen Hegarty, and my boys, Tommy, Michael, and Jack Hegarty, without whose love and support none of this work could have happened. This book is dedicated to them. —A.M.S.

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i n t roduc t ion

Figuring Friendship When I am with others and cannot see you and sit with you daily, you know if my heart is happy or not. Who is there to listen when I speak? Who to match me when I chant poetry? To speak and have no one listen, to chant and have no one match me, to go about alone with no fellows, to have no one to agree with me when discussing right and wrong—you know if my heart is happy or not! 其於人人, 非足下之為見而日與之處, 足下知吾心樂否也! 吾言之 而聽者誰歟? 吾倡之而和者誰歟? 言無聽也, 倡無和也, 獨行而無 徒也, 是非無所與同也, 足下知吾心樂否也! —Han Yu, “Letter to Meng Dongye [Meng Jiao]” Alas, alas, Weizhi! We began by making friends with poems, and we end by parting with poems. How could it be that today both strings and brushes are broken apart? 嗚呼微之! 始以詩交, 終以詩訣. 絃筆兩決, 其今日乎? —Bai Juyi, “Offering Text for Yuan Zhen”

I

n the history of Chinese literature, the mid-Tang era stands out as a period of unusual innovation and change. During the years from the 790s through the 820s, mid-Tang writers pushed at the boundaries of medieval literature, experimented with new forms and styles, and

epigraphs: The Han Yu quotation is found in Han Yu quanji jiaozhu 韓愈全集校注, ed. Qu Shouyuan 屈守元 and Chang Sichun 常思春, 5 vols. (Chengdu: Sichuan daxue chubanshe, 1996), 3:1425–26; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji 韓愈古文校注彙輯, ed. Luo Liantian 羅聯添, 5 vols. (Taibei: Guoli bianyi guan, 2003), 1:575–77. The lines from Bai Juyi come from Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 白居易集箋校, ed. Zhu Jincheng 朱金城, 6 vols. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988), 6:3721.

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explored new problems in their texts. At the same time, they pursued with great enthusiasm something more traditional in medieval culture: close friendships with fellow literati. The renown of these mid-Tang literary friendships spread far and endured through centuries of great social and cultural transformation. The poetic exchanges of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen became famous throughout China and Japan; scholars in the Song dynasty and beyond praised Han Yu’s dedication to Meng Jiao through years of hardship; the long fidelity of Liu Zongyuan and Liu Yuxi during years spent separated from each other is noted even today in studies of the two men’s work. The enduring image of mid-Tang friendship is due in part to the survival of more texts from the second half of the Tang dynasty than from the first. In addition to the thousands of poems from the period, the great variety of extant prose works such as letters, prefaces, funerary texts, and essays gives us a more nuanced understanding of ninth-century lives than we have for earlier periods. But the visibility of friendship in mid-Tang literature is neither a trick of the light cast by surviving texts, nor a post-hoc creation that resonated with later readers. Rather, the profusion of writing about and within the context of friendship grew out of critical changes in Tang social and cultural life, and this writing thrived as a dynamic expression of mid-Tang literati interests. Texts of friendship publicized literati relationships, sustained aesthetic and intellectual debates over distance and time, and transmitted them to contemporaries and posterity. At their most powerful, these texts capture the great possibility of the mid-Tang moment, a time when literati sought not only to make reputations but also to revitalize culture for their age. Mid-Tang literati found close relations with peers politically useful and intellectually stimulating; circles of friends provided assistance in careers and responsive audiences for writing. These instrumental uses of elite male friendship were certainly not new in medieval China. However, changing social and political conditions of the late eighth and early ninth centuries encouraged both the practice of friendship among elite men and its representation in texts. The two most influential changes in this history were the rising participation in Tang government of men from more diverse family backgrounds, particularly men from other than the most prestigious lineages, and the diminishing importance of the imperial court as a center of literary composition. In an era when all potential officials were evaluated on the basis of reputation and proven talent (there

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were no blind assessments of candidates in examinations or for offices), men without powerful kin relations had to build social capital through many avenues—including the cultivation of patrons, advantageous marriages, and friendship ties—in order to succeed in the examinations and to make careers. Horizontal social relations provided support on ladders that most elite men sought to climb over the course of their lives. The diversification of literature across the empire paralleled this midTang expansion of social networks. As the contexts for literary writing became more numerous and decentralized—flourishing in the courts of regional military commissioners (jiedushi 節度使)—literati discovered both opportunities and incentives to cultivate men sympathetic to their interests.1 Whether located in Chang’an, in Luoyang, or in the provinces, these encounters of friends in pairs and larger circles generated lively discussion and composition. In his study of the writing and thought of Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元 (773–819), Jo-shui Chen has noted: It is clear that there were emotional and artistic motives for the formation of groups of this kind. Their formation often resulted from the mutual appreciation of their members both as individuals and as writers. In the area of writing, the members of these assemblages helped, learned from, and, no less passionately, competed with one another in artistic terms. In personal life, they held close relationships; their shared moments and experience frequently constituted the common themes of their works.2

As Chen notes, mid-Tang writing about friendship often went beyond mere praise of one’s companions or the documentation of a social encounter and spilled into the realm of private experience. Friends were also portrayed as “one[s] who know me” (zhiwozhe 知我者), to use the epithet from the Shi jing 詩經 (Classic of poetry), or those who would understand one’s inner feelings even in times of distress.3 Han 1. David McMullen, State and Scholars in T’ang China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 209–10, 234–35. 2. Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan and Intellectual Change in T’ang China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 53. 3. The phrase zhiwozhe is repeated in Mao 65, “The Wine-Millet Bends” 黍離, from The Classic of Poetry. The pre-Tang and Tang commentaries argue that it refers to unnamed people (traditionally understood as plural, though not made explicit in the

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Yu’s plaintive appeal to Meng Jiao—“you know if my heart is happy or not!”—captures his expectation of being understood and appreciated by his closest friends, which was only heightened by separation. Like Han Yu, many other mid-Tang writers described friendship with literati peers as a source of pleasure and knowledge. The social relation of friendship occupied a space that bridged both the public and private realms, and thus writing about friendship prompted men to reflect on the intersection of their personal and official lives and to debate their perspectives with one another. In this book, I study the literary innovations and social values of writing about friendship in the mid-Tang, a body of work that I define to include texts representing friendship explicitly, either in a prescriptive, idealized form or as a description of a specific relationship, and also texts such as letters and poetic exchanges that invoke friendship as an essential condition for their composition. These texts on friendship shed new light on two critical questions about mid-Tang literature that scholars have considered for centuries: why so many writers of the period experimented so energetically with literary topics, styles, and forms; and why they turned so often to writing about personal experience. On the one hand, instrumentality is everywhere evident in mid-Tang writing about friendship: the texts show how writers used their circles to advance themselves and their friends in the political hierarchy. But beyond the social and political utility of this literary advertising, the texts also demonstrate the ways that a circle of trusted peers provided a safe environment for testing new styles and ideas. In writing about friendship, mid-Tang literati echoed one another’s interests, engaged in debate, and revised their opinions in different literary forms, whether through the play of collaborative and responsive verse, the exchange of letters on philosophical matters, or the circulation of eulogies for shared friends. Their texts also reveal the ways that friendship could change over time, as turns of fortune strained or sometimes strengthened ties made in youth. Playful, competitive relationships could deepen into more reflective, compassionate bonds—or could weaken from years of separation and divergent paths. Intellectual and aesthetic commitments that writers defended in their younger days original) who understand the speaker’s sorrow at the decline of the Western Zhou (ca. 1046–771 BCE). I discuss the poem further in chapter 1.

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could shift over time, an evolution that these texts sometimes painfully revealed. The record of engaged collegial play and debate found in mid-Tang texts of friendship illuminates an important turn in the medieval literary tradition. The dialogic and dialectical qualities of friendship exchanges forced certain writers to consider more seriously the contingencies of experience—not just the proprieties of occasion—in crafting literary texts. In that process, they refashioned the inherited genres of medieval literature in order to make their literary work (wenzhang 文章) appear individual and authentic. Finally, mid-Tang writers claimed that friendship created a bond of trust and knowledge that made possible the disclosure of personal feelings or events that in the context of other, more distant social relationships would be inappropriate. Those personal matters could include topics as sensitive as guilt over an illicit love affair, as Yuan Zhen recounted to Bai Juyi, or petulant anger and bitterness about one’s struggles, as Han Yu expressed to his closest correspondents. Mid-Tang writers were deeply concerned to convey sincerity in literary composition; by incorporating such experiences in writing to friends, they guaranteed that their work would be specific, original, and powerful. Despite the growing scholarship on the representation of social relations in Chinese literature and the impact of social and political change on mid-Tang writing, this is the first book-length exploration of friendship in the Chinese tradition. It asks a question that is literary historical in nature: how did writing on friendship both reflect and shape broader transformations in mid-Tang literary culture? But it situates its answer in the context of the larger historical processes at work in the period.4 4. Some important studies of the relationship of mid-Tang literary change to contemporary political and social developments, including the influence of the examination system on literature, include Fu Xuancong 傅璇璁, Tangdai keju yu wenxue 唐代 科舉與文學 (Xi’an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe, 1986); Wu Zongguo 吳宗國, Tangdai keju zhidu yanjiu 唐代科舉制度研究 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2010); Li Hao 李皓, Tangdai shizu yu wenxue 唐代士族與文學 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2003); Chen Fei 陳飛, Tangdai shice kao shu 唐代試策考述 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2002); Dai Weihua 戴偉華, Tangdai mufu yu wenxue 唐代幕府與文學 (Beijing: Xiandai chubanshe, 1990); Mao Lei 毛雷, Tangdai Hanlin xueshi 唐代翰林學士 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 2000); Ma Zili 馬自力, Zhong Tang wenren zhi shehui jiaose yu wenxue huodong 中唐文人之社會角色與文學活動 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2005).

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Literati friendship was certainly a scaffold for individual career advancement, but at the same time, new habits of writing within and about close friendships raised unexpected questions about the relationship between personal commitments and larger cultural values. What did it mean to “seek to be known” (qiuzhi 求知) or to “know others” (zhiren 知人) in the context of the lateral social relation of friendship, as opposed to the hierarchical relations of patronage? How was the canonical model of literary composition as the individual’s response to circumstances complicated when one wrote dialogically, in exchanges with other writers? Given the new value that literati found in the understanding of friendship, what other kinds of social, intellectual, or philosophical knowledge could they acquire from its model? And finally, what did it mean to write about friendship after the death of friends? In sum, as they became more aware of the ways in which their writing was embedded in particular relationships and social contexts, mid-Tang literati began to reflect the dynamic, intersubjective nature of friendship in their compositions. The temporal boundaries of this study are narrow. My central account focuses on the decades of the 790s to the 820s (roughly from the late reign of emperor Dezong 德宗 [r. 780–805], through the entire reign of Xianzong 憲宗 [r. 805–20], to the end of Jingzong’s 敬宗 brief reign [r. 825–26]). I also follow a few long-lived writers up into the 830s and 840s.5 The texts I examine come from the two largest collections of the mid-Tang, those of Han Yu 韓愈 (768–824) and Bai Juyi 白居易 (772– 846), and from the collections of other literati described by these two men as different kinds of “friend” (you 友) over the years (I discuss this and other friendship terms in chapter 1). For Han Yu, those literati included Meng Jiao 孟郊 (751–814), Li Ao 李翱 (774–836), Zhang Ji 張籍 (ca. 768–ca. 830), and Liu Zongyuan, as well as other men such as Zhang Shu 張暑 (758–817), Hou Xi 侯喜 (d. 823), and Fan Zongshi 樊宗師 (d. 824). In Bai Juyi’s corpus, the friendships invoked most frequently were those with Yuan Zhen (779–831) and Liu Yuxi 劉禹錫 (772–842), but as we will see, a core group of other men appears with some frequency

5. As Ma Zili notes, different scholars locate the end of the mid-Tang at different moments, but the two most common end-dates are 826/827 (either the year before or the year of Wenzong’s accession) and 835, the year of the failed “Sweet Dew” uprising of officials against court eunuchs. Ma, Zhong Tang wenren, 6.

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in his texts, complicating the narrow view of the “Yuan-Bai” dyad. The literati in this study are therefore all roughly of the same generation, even though their career paths were not aligned precisely. Meng Jiao was the eldest member, but he passed the jinshi 進士 examination alongside men twenty years his junior in 796; Bai, Han, Liu Zongyuan, and Liu Yuxi were all born between 768 and 773 and passed the jinshi in 799, 793, and 792 respectively; Li Ao, born in 772, passed the jinshi somewhat later in 798; and Zhang Ji, born in the late 760s or early 770s, passed the jinshi in 799, while Yuan Zhen, the youngest of this group, was born in 779 but passed the mingjing 明經 examination in 793 at the precocious age of fourteen.6 The literati life course is essential here, through its great influence on the formation and maintenance of friendships and thus on their depiction; in the chapters that follow, I begin with youth and examinations and conclude with death and portraits of friendship in funerary writing. Rather than placing Han and Bai at the center of circles or “schools” (pai 派) and tracing their relations to others radiating outward, I follow the lead of the texts themselves, which sketch more open networks, shifting status hierarchies, social asymmetries, and overlapping roles within circles than the more static and traditional “schools” approach to the period suggests.7 The prominence of Han Yu and Bai Juyi in this account 6. The jinshi (presented scholar) examination, which required composition in different genres, was seen as demanding greater literary talent than the mingjing (explaining the classics) examination, which emphasized rote memorization of passages from the classics. See McMullen, State and Scholars, 23–25. 7. The body of social network analysis from the past several decades offers good models for examining relational patterns and tracing cultural exchange, and I draw upon some of this work, including some of its vocabulary, in this study. However, unlike sociologists or anthropologists who study guanxi, for whom instrumental uses of social relations are central, I focus less on instrumentality than on the literariness of these mid-Tang texts, including their affective content, rhetorical strategies, and intellectual debates. For some important studies of the role of guanxi in Chinese society, see Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994); Yunxiang Yan, The Flow of Gifts: Reciprocity and Social Networks in a Chinese Village (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996); Andrew Kipnis, Producing Guanxi: Sentiment, Self, and Subculture in a North Chinese Village (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997); and Thomas Gold, Douglas Guthrie, and David Wank, eds., Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

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stems not only from their large corpora but also from other significant similarities in their lives that led them to form many diverse social relationships: they both began their careers without fathers, and were both relatively long-lived for Tang men (Han died at the age of fifty-six, Bai at seventy-four); they were consistently gregarious, generally successful in their offices (though each suffered a serious demotion in political office at least once), financially responsible for large families, and very well-connected, despite the fact that neither man began his career with the benefit of influential kin. Their contemporary reputations were radically different: Han Yu remained a very engaged, even polemical official until his death, while Bai Juyi chose to step away from court politics in his forties and spent his last decades enjoying a series of sinecures. Yet between them, they seem to have known every important political and literary figure of the Zhenyuan, Yuanhe, and Changqing reign periods. When we juxtapose the texts of Bai and Han against the compositions of others in their circles, the agency of those other members emerges as well; their active voices in the exchanges help us in turn to understand shifts and inflections in the texts exchanged within a dyadic friendship or a larger circle. For example, Han Yu often assumed the roles of both junior scholar and close friend in poems addressed to Meng Jiao, who was Han’s student but also his elder by seventeen years. Bai Juyi adapted his dual role of “friend in prose” (wen you 文友) and “adversary in poetry” (shi di 詩敵), originally developed with Yuan Zhen, in his later writing with Liu Yuxi after Yuan’s death. The model of fluid, evolving networks sketched out by the texts also allows for the effect of time and separation on friendships and for the fact that literati cultivated more than one strong friendship relation or circle over the course of a lifetime. Zhang Ji, for example, known for his early attachment to Han Yu, later formed an important friendship with the poet Wang Jian 王 建 (jinshi 775, d. ca. 830); and Liu Yuxi, friend of Liu Zongyuan and Lü Wen 呂溫 (772–811), two men who like him were punished for their actions as officials during the emperor Shunzong’s reign, became Bai’s literary companion in later years. Poems, prefaces, letters, and funerary writings reveal the flexible and creative ways that mid-Tang literati used texts to negotiate changing relationships over time. As I argue in chapter 1, the discourse of friendship in early medieval China is fragmentary and inconsistent in many ways, and there

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are many aspects of friendship, particularly the more private dimensions, that its texts elide. Silences and omissions in the texts of friendship certainly stem in part from their use as cultural capital in the literati community, and the concomitant need for decorum.8 Because mid-Tang writers intended their literary writing to demonstrate both creative talent and competence in navigating elite social relations, we rarely find stark conflict, negative emotions, or ritual violations in the texts. More common are words of praise, collegial negotiation, and the rhetorical performance of generic or ritual expectations. The accidents of textual transmission also leave gaps. For example, the loss of perhaps 30 to 40 percent of Yuan Zhen’s collected works—including perhaps many of his letters and all of his poetry from after 825—gives Bai Juyi’s voluminous writing on his friendship with Yuan greater weight.9 Han Yu’s relations with Meng Jiao are represented in Han’s poems and other prose texts, but Meng Jiao’s perspective on that friendship or others is documented only by poems. Therefore the texts we have must be used with caution, with awareness of the kinds of writing absent from individual corpora, and with close attention to the conventions of particular forms. Because mid-Tang writers explored their interests in a wide range of genres and were especially attentive to the creative potential of prose, I consider texts of friendship in many forms, focusing on those that emphasized direct communication and response. I limit my analyses to texts that present themselves as overtly autobiographical, such as letters, poetic exchanges, farewell prefaces (song xu 送序), and funerary texts intended for performance or inscription, leaving for future study the representation of friendship in Tang anecdotal literature and “tales” (chuanqi 傳奇).

8. My use of “cultural capital,” as well as the associated concept of “field” in this and later chapters, draws on the work of Pierre Bourdieu in The Forms of Capital (1986) and elaborated in Distinction. 9. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, “Bai Juyi nianpu jianbian,” 6:4028–29. For the loss of works from Yuan’s collection in editions after the Tang, see Bian Xiaoxuan 卞孝萱, ed., Yuan Zhen nianpu 元稹年譜 (Qi Lu shushe, 1980), 531–41; Hanabusa Hideki 花房英樹 and Maegawa Yukio 前川幸雄, Gen Shin kenkyū 元稹研究 (Tokyo: Ibundō shokan, 1977), 194–202. See also my discussion of the transmission history of Yuan’s corpus in “Defining Experience: The ‘Poems of Seductive Allure’ (yanshi) of the Mid-Tang Poet Yuan Zhen,” JAOS 122.1 (2002): 61–78.

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Across the genres, these texts articulate the many shared pleasures and values of friendship. Han Yu’s letter to Meng Jiao cited at the opening of the chapter tells us that Han saw the social communion of friendship as necessary to his own happiness: “To speak and have no one listen, to chant and have no one match me, to go about alone with no fellows, to have no one to agree with me when [discussing] right and wrong—you know if my heart is happy or not!” But as Han’s words demonstrate, the frequent separations men experienced in the course of political careers often jeopardized this pleasure. Literary texts such as letters and poems thus functioned as both the medium of friendship—the means by which it was performed and sustained, intellectually, emotionally, and materially—and its necessary currency, the gifts with which one fulfilled social obligations to others. Bai Juyi’s body of texts exchanged with Yuan Zhen exemplifies the importance of writing to maintaining a friendship, even serving as its boundaries, as Bai claimed in his offering text after Yuan’s death: “We began by making friends with poems, and we end by parting with poems.” Although the men seem to have spent much time in the period between 800 and 806 together on social occasions, remarkably, during the two decades between 810 and 831, the year of Yuan Zhen’s death, they spent no more than a few months in toto in one another’s company. Bai Juyi’s reference elsewhere in his offering text for Yuan Zhen to the “nine hundred” poems the two men had exchanged over the thirty years they had known one another shows us the potential of texts to embody a friendship, not merely serve as its medium. The evolving relationship of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan offers a different but equally powerful model for the use of texts in friendship: there, the two men’s intellectual debate and personal familiarity emerged in an engaged series of discussions conducted in letters and essays over a fourteen-year period that began only after Liu’s political downfall physically separated them. What we find in these diverse compositions is not a uniform vision of successful, enduring friendship, but rather many possible relationships and ways of sustaining them through texts. In the manuscript culture of China before the Song dynasty (960– 1279), friendship networks also served as critical channels for sharing works as they were copied and recopied; this in turn affected both style and content of the circulated texts, as writers contemplated the multiple

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potential readers of their work.10 Although they addressed their works to specific recipients, writers expected their compositions to be viewed by others beyond the immediate addressees, an assumption that paratextual evidence—such as prefaces or colophons to poems and postscripts to letters—documents clearly. In contrast to diaries or autograph letters from later dynasties, which may or may not have been circulated after the writer’s death, we should assume that the Tang works that have survived in individual collections or in anthologies, as most of the texts examined here have, were intended to be seen by a wide range of audiences, including posterity. They could certainly be used to flatter and fawn; yet when they drew rhetorically on the values of trust (xin 信) and knowledge (zhi 知) that ideally existed between friends, such texts constructed a framework for articulating values and desires. When using their compositions to interact with trusted peers, writers portrayed themselves as both the subject and object of knowledge, both the knower and the person known. As they shared their work, they opened their interpretations and self-representations to view by a wider community of readers. Writing about chosen friends and in the context of close circles in the mid-Tang thus became an important way to write about oneself. In order to introduce the elements of the discourse that mid-Tang writers often invoked when writing about friendship, let us briefly consider two texts. The first is a poetic lament by Bai Juyi, a late-life reflection on the death of close companions; the second is a vitriolic digression by Han Yu embedded in his epitaph for Liu Zongyuan, an attack on hypocrisy and falsehood in public manifestations of friendship. Bai’s poem is an introspective account of “being moved,”11 a quiet reckoning of what had been lost and what remained, and a work to be included in his collected works 10. For a close study of the circulation of Tang poetry, see Christopher Nugent, Manifest in Words, Written on Paper: Producing and Circulating Poetry in Tang Dynasty China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010), esp. 192–235; and Ke Zhuoying 柯卓英, Tangdai de wenxue chuanbo yanjiu 唐代的文學傳播研究 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2009). 11. The poetic subgenre of “moved by thinking on the past,” ganjiu 感舊, in which “the past” refers to “old friends,” dated to the early medieval period; see chapter 3 for a longer discussion.

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for posterity. Han Yu’s epitaph, in contrast, was intended to be inscribed on a mortuary stele, would have been widely circulated in manuscript form to his contemporaries (Han Yu was already well known for his excellence in funerary writing), and would also have been submitted to the History Bureau to become part of Liu Zongyuan’s official biographical record.12 Moved by [Thinking of] Old Friends 感舊

Bai Juyi My old friends Attendant Gentleman Li Biaozhi [Jian] passed away in the spring of the first year of the Changqing reign (821); Grand Councilor Yuan Weizhi [Zhen] passed away in the autumn of the sixth year of the Taihe reign (831); Attendant Gentleman Cui Huishu [Xuanliang] passed away in the summer of the seventh year of the Taihe reign (833); Minister Liu Mengde [Yuxi] passed away in the autumn of the second year of the Huichang reign (842). These four gentlemen were my fast friends, but over the past twenty years, they have all withered away one by one, till only I, aging and ill, survive. And so I sing out my feelings of grief, calling this poem “Moved by [Thinking of] Old Friends.” 13 故李侍郎杓之, 長慶元年春薨. 元相公微之, 大和六年秋薨. 崔侍郎晦 叔, 大和七年夏薨. 劉尚書夢得, 會昌二年秋薨. 四君子, 予之執友也, 二 十年間, 凋零共盡, 唯予衰病, 至今獨存, 因詠悲懷, 題為感舊. 晦叔墳荒草已陳 夢得墓濕土猶新 微之捐館將一紀 杓之歸丘二十春 城中雖有故第宅 庭蕪園廢生荊榛

Wild grass is already arrayed on Huishu’s gravesite; the wet earth is still fresh on Mengde’s mound. Since Weizhi “gave up his post,” it’s been almost twelve years; twenty springs it’s been since Biaozhi was committed to earth. Though their old mansions still stand inside city walls, the courtyards are overgrown and gardens abandoned, growing thorny brush.

12. Denis Twitchett, The Writing of Official History under the T’ang (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 13. Zhu Jincheng (4:2495) notes that of the official titles given here, the one for Cui Xuanliang is incorrect—Cui never served in this post—but all extant editions contain the error. Unless otherwise noted, I adopt the translation of titles found in Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985).

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In my boxes I still have their old letters, words and pages pierced by insects, becoming ashy dust. When making firm ties in life, one chooses just a few: counting mine up, only five of us knew each other truly. Four men have gone before, I remain behind: a lone branch of black willow, an aging, decrepit body. How could it be that in these later years I didn’t have new acquaintances? But with acquaintances, you’re only familiar with faces, not familiar with their hearts. In this life, never envy those ill-destined to live long: in recalling old friends, those who live long have much bitter grief.14

In the texts of his extant corpus, Bai Juyi named different sets of men as dao you 道友 (friends on the same “Way,” indicating a life path defined by shared religious or intellectual convictions) or shengyou 生 友 (friends made in youth, during the examinations, sometimes used in place of tongnian 同年, “same-year” examination cohort member), but here and elsewhere Bai deemed only these four men to be zhiyou 執友.15 Composed only months after Liu Yuxi’s death, the preface carefully situates the four deceased friends in political history: each man is given his highest official title—the loftiest rank of “grand councilor” (xiang 相) for Yuan and “minister” (shangshu 尚書) for Liu16—and each death is

14. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 4:2493–95. 15. See his “Fifteen Poems Composed while Sick” 病中詩十五首, which gives a list of three (Yuan, Liu, Li, but not Cui Xuanliang) as zhiyou; but in his entombed epitaph for Cui, Bai calls him a zhiyou, and in his funerary stele inscription (mubei 墓碑) for Li Jian, Bai refers again to this group as lifelong close friends. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 4:2389, 6:3751, and 5:2666. 16. Yuan Zhen served as grand councilor for a mere four months in 822 (Bian, Yuan Zhen nianpu, 403–10). Liu Yuxi was given an honorary appointment as minister of the Ministry of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書), and he was also posthumously awarded the title of minister of the Ministry of Revenue (hubu shangshu 戶部尚書); see Qu Tuiyuan

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marked in the reign year of three different emperors. This formal mode of signification, however, gives way to the familiar, even intimate tone of the poem. Bai underscores his singularity in the preface by defining himself as the lone survivor of two decades of political turmoil and, in the poem, by reflecting on images of decay, loss, and the meaning of “firm ties” over the course of a lifetime. His honesty about the material reality of their deaths deflects sentimentality; the images of burial and decay in the first half of the poem—fresh dirt on graves, overgrown abandoned gardens, and letters in chests, like bodies in coffins, being consumed by insects—give concrete shape to the pain of the second half. At the heart of the poem, the simple gesture of “counting up” his chosen close friends on one hand understates the loss. Bai Juyi here defines the greatest value of friendship as mutual knowledge or understanding (xiangzhi 相知), the knowledge of another’s heart and mind, which he contrasts with mere acquaintance (xiangshi 相識). The final couplet’s inversion of common values—lamenting the bitter gift of long life—expresses Bai’s grief as advice to readers, without overburdening the poem. Like the coffins and boxes of letters it describes, Bai’s poem retains more feeling than it discloses. In poems, letters, and other texts, Bai Juyi often praised the mutual knowledge of friendship. In the texts of other writers, however, we find trust—the match of words and actions, observable by others—to be the value more salient than understanding. The obverse of trust was hypocrisy and betrayal. In a world where gossip and inside influence made reputations and shattered careers, slander and back-stabbing were constant threats; models of faithful friendship could thus become platforms from which to critique these social ills. In his epitaph for Liu Zongyuan, Han Yu praised the fidelity of Liu Yuxi and Liu Zongyuan through the worst conditions of both men’s lives. The two had been sent to distant posts in 805 for their roles in the government of the brief Yongzhen reign of the emperor Shunzong. In 815, when emperor Xianzong recalled them to the capital and then demoted them once again, Liu Zongyuan pleaded with the emperor to give him the more difficult post, hoping to spare Liu Yuxi’s mother from the perils of posting in an uncivilized location. 瞿蛻園, ed., “Liu Yuxi ji jizhuan” 劉禹錫集傳, in Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng 劉禹錫集箋證, 3 vols. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1989), 3:1582–83.

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In a passionate digression unusual for the genre of the entombed epitaph inscription (muzhiming 墓志銘), Han Yu seizes upon this extraordinary act as proof of Liu Zongyuan’s character, and he contrasts it with what he sees around him: Alas, alas! Only when a scholar is in great hardship are his integrity and rightness revealed. But nowadays, people profess their admiration for one another as they meet on the streets; they run around with each other, dining and drinking and reveling, confidently faking smiles and laughter to win one another over, clasping their hands to their chests to show one another, pointing to the sun above and weeping, swearing never to turn their backs on one another in life or death—it all seems so trustworthy. But if one day the slightest hint of advantage might appear, be it as small as a hair, they avert their eyes as if they don’t know one another. If one man were to fall into a pit, the other would not extend a hand to help him, but would push him farther in, and would even throw stones down on him—it’s like this everywhere. This is something that even beasts or barbarians would not bear to do, and yet such people view themselves as having planned well. When they hear of Zihou’s [Liu Zongyuan’s] conduct, may they indeed be somewhat ashamed! 嗚呼! 士窮乃見節義, 今夫平居里巷相慕悅, 酒食遊戲相徵逐, 詡詡強笑 語以相取下, 握手出肺肝相示, 指天日涕泣, 誓生死不相背負, 真若可信. 一旦臨小利害, 僅如毛髮比, 反眼若不相識, 落陷穽不一引手救, 反擠之, 又下石焉者, 皆是也. 此宜禽獸夷狄所不忍為, 而其人自視以為得計. 聞 子厚之風, 亦可以少愧矣!17

17. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2391–93; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji 3:2579. Han Yu’s entombed epitaph deeply influenced later perceptions of Liu Zongyuan; excerpts appear in later Tang and Song anecdotes and histories. Ouyang Xiu, for example, cites Han’s text several times in his biography of Liu in Xin Tang shu 新唐書, ed. Song Qi 宋祁 and Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), 168.5132–42 (hereafter XTS). A reference to this story, though not citations of Han’s own words, appears in Liu Zongyuan’s very brief biography in Jiu Tang shu 舊唐書, comp. Liu Xu 劉眗 et al. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975), 160.4213–14 (hereafter JTS). My translation follows with some modifications that of Chen Yu-shih in Images and Ideas in Classical Chinese Prose: Studies of Four Masters (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), 60–61. With respect to the punctuation of Chinese prose texts cited in this book, I generally follow the punctuation given in the modern editions I cite; for texts taken from sources without modern punctuation, I provide it.

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Han Yu wrote the epitaph in 820, less than a year after the public humiliation of being demoted for submitting the “Memorial on the Bone of the Buddha” that criticized emperor Xianzong’s veneration of a Buddhist relic. He had frequently written about falseness and hypocrisy in social relations in the years prior to that event, however.18 His attack here gives us a vivid picture of the kinds of ritual and social behavior that elite friendship entailed: aside from going about together in company, Han Yu depicts men gesturing to one another to signal their steadfastness, swearing vows and pointing to emblems of fidelity. The emptiness of these gestures when “the hint of advantage” arose was compounded by the threat of violence; the stark image of pushing a person into a pit and stoning him mercilessly may seem extreme, but the dangerous consequences of betrayal were real. Given that political maneuvering and slander of an enemy to the emperor could end with dismissal, demotion, and even execution for highly placed officials, Han’s words evoke the disaster that could ensue if one’s sworn defenders failed in their duty. Han Yu, writing the epitaph in political disgrace, would have keenly understood the danger of faithless friends, since his own life had been spared in 819 only through the strenuous intervention of his allies Pei Du 裴度 (765–839) and Cui Qun 崔群 (772–832).19 In a case of life or death, the companionship and knowledge of friendship paled beside its moral imperative to live up to one’s promises, which Han Yu points to as the true manifestation of “integrity and rightness.” Bai Juyi’s poem and Han Yu’s epitaph reveal very different ways that writing about friendship could provoke reflection on literati identity and values. Both men are prescriptive, even idealistic, in their assessment of friendship, and each draws on personal experience to flesh out his portrait. Bai Juyi defends his reckoning from the viewpoint of a longlived sage; Han Yu sketches an anonymous, satirical vignette of betrayal and reveals his own familiarity with elite mores without pointing at 18. See Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2364, for traditional commentators’ dating of this text and their linking it to Han’s recent demotion. Hu Kexian argues that this document reveals Han’s final acceptance of Liu Zongyuan’s talent years after the Shunzong reign, but he also sees Han to be primarily writing about himself here. Hu Kexian 胡可 先, Zhong Tang zhengzhi yu wenxue: yi Yongzhen gexin wei yanjiu zhongxin 中唐政治與 文學: 以永貞革新為研究中心 (Hefei: Anhui daxue chubanshe, 2000), 259–60. 19. JTS 160.4200.

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specific targets. But the texts differ significantly in their relationship to the two men’s earlier texts and their biographies. Bai Juyi’s poem echoes and confirms statements made in other poems about his own writing (his scrolls piled up in boxes) and the loss of men known to him (whose empty gardens provoked sadness).20 It extends but in no way complicates our vision of Bai Juyi as poet or friend to others. Han Yu’s epitaph, however, presents a greater challenge. Han Yu here strongly affirms the value of Liu Yuxi’s relationship with Liu Zongyuan, yet he himself had no similar relationship to Liu Zongyuan. Indeed, he had been highly critical of the actions of Liu and others who rose to prominence as officials in Shunzong’s reign and were punished upon Xianzong’s death for their policies, which were opposed by many in the bureaucracy.21 While defending Liu Zongyuan’s steadfastness implicitly places Han Yu in the role of Liu’s friend, the extant texts that capture their relationship in Liu’s final years suggest a combative, engaged, and purely text-based connection. Yet no matter what Han Yu’s feelings towards Liu were by the time of Liu’s death, his documented performance of the responsibilities assigned to him after that death—assuming financial responsibility for Liu’s children, composing the epitaph, writing an offering text for Liu—were consistent with the obligations of friendship, and Liu Yuxi included Han in the circle of you 友 he described in his own offering text for Zongyuan. It is unwise to read too much into the appellation of 20. See, for example, two quatrains Bai composed in 833 under the title “Weizhi, Dunshi [Cui Qun] and Huishu followed one another in passing away; feeling sorrowful and pained, I composed two quatrains” 微之敦詩晦叔相次長逝巋然自傷因成二 絕 (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 4:2119), or “Moved by Past Friends’ Scrolls of Poems” 感舊詩卷 (4:2113). Bai used this same garden metaphor in his poem about Cui Qun after Cui’s death (4:2289). For an insightful discussion of Bai’s interest in gardens as spaces and representatives of their inhabitants, see Xiaoshan Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere: Gardens and Objects in Tang-Song Poetry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003), 11–50. 21. For an overview of the Shunzong officials and the events that led to their punishment, see Denis Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3: Sui and T’ang China, 589–906, Part I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 601–7. The leader, Wang Shuwen 王叔文 (d. 806), was demoted and then ordered to commit suicide, and the rest of the officials associated with the group, which included Liu Yuxi, Liu Zongyuan, and their friend Lü Wen, were punished with demotion to difficult, remote posts; with the important exception of Liu Yuxi, most died without ever returning to capital office.

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wangyou 亡友, “deceased friend,” with which Han opens Liu’s epitaph (I discuss the use of this term in other funerary texts in chapter 5), but Han Yu certainly understood that his own integrity, as well as his own grasp of the duties of friendship, was on display in this text. For Bai and Han, writing about friendship was essential to fully performing the role of a friend in the literati community.

ƒ In the following chapters, I examine mid-Tang writing about friendship according to its most pressing concerns, considering in each chapter the relationship of texts on friendship to specific mid-Tang literary trends, genres, and intellectual problems. The Tang literati life-course provides the order for the analyses, as I begin with early writing for patrons and examinations and conclude with funerary compositions on the death of friends. Chapter 1, “Contexts for Friendship in Mid-Tang Literary Culture,” examines the theoretical discourse and historical trends that fueled the new interest in writing about friendship. Beyond their awareness of the instrumentality of friendship, mid-Tang literati also made conscious use of the discourse of friendship, particularly its Confucian terms, to defend their social practice. In the first part of the chapter, I offer a preliminary survey of the key terms and values of friendship developed in the texts from the pre-Han period through the Tang that resonated powerfully with midTang writers. Despite the fragmentary, diffuse nature of the early discourse, certain terms and moral associations persisted through the Tang—in particular, the pleasure of camaraderie, the value of trust, and the importance of knowing and being known to others through friendship. The fact that the early Ru, or “classicist,” texts included friendship as the fifth and only non-hierarchical relation of the five normative social relations (wu lun 五 倫), was both a promise and a problem for later writers, who sought to defend the importance of non-familial close social ties in a medieval world that valued filiality and hierarchy. As we discover in some notable prescriptive and theoretical texts on friendship, however, the relative looseness of the medieval discourse allowed mid-Tang writers to select the elements from it that best suited their needs, and to define friendship as they chose. In the second part of the chapter, I examine the social and political shifts of the late eighth and early ninth centuries that laid the foundation

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for the epochal transformations of the Tang-Song transition—in particular, the post-Tang collapse of the great clan aristocracy, the emergence of the scholar-official stratum, and the rise in the cultural stature of the examination system. Friendship circles played a critical role in these developments during the mid-Tang period. Literati with fewer familial or financial resources used their friendship networks as social capital, and their literary talent as negotiable currency. Although the quest for examination success and offices fueled fierce competition among individuals, certain mid-Tang literati also recognized that there could be strength in numbers, and that new ideological positions or literary styles were better defended by a collective than an individual voice, as we see most prominently in the group of literati affiliated with Han Yu. The negative face of this trend was factionalism, a political threat endemic to mid- and late Tang culture; but against that threat, others sought to stake out positions from which they could wield influence for the benefit of polity and society. Fueled by the reformist, energetic political spirit sparked by emperor Xianzong’s ascent to the throne in 805, some literati chose to adopt more assertive literary or intellectual stances and find like-minded men with whom to advocate them. In chapter 2, “Building Networks: Friendship, Patronage, and Celebrity,” I examine the connections between writing for patrons and writing for peers in the early years of literati careers. Both kinds of writing were central to the quest for celebrity and success in the “arena of literature,” and they contributed to the identities that literati sought to establish for themselves and for their close friends in the competition for prestige. Differentiating oneself by adopting an outsider position, as Han Yu often did, could provide the ground for an intellectually aggressive critique of society and its mores. However, when addressing prospective patrons, Han Yu sometimes exchanged that outsider identity for other credentials, such as privileged knowledge of the tradition, innovative literary talent, or examination success. Han Yu, Li Ao, and Meng Jiao all provide intriguing examples of the ways that mid-Tang writers could use intellectual and personal knowledge of others to persuade prospective patrons of their own merit and that of their peers in the absence of influential relatives or mentors. Their shared iconoclastic interest in “antiquity” as a topic and a stylistic inspiration became a byword in their texts to one another and to influential men, and it provided them with a recognizable literary identity. Conversely, identifying oneself with a

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prestigious group, such as that of the celebrated new jinshi degree-holders or young office-holders in a prestigious bureau, could be an equally powerful stance from which to write. Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen both publicized themselves in poems written to men in their examination cohorts (which, after three triumphs on different, ever more prestigious exams, were substantial) and they parlayed celebrity into official success, at least for the first decade of their careers. Their early literary experiments with “new yuefu” and other forms were, I argue, prompted by their success in Chang’an; they confidently adopted the role of social critic because they had been acclaimed as men of talent and perspicuity. Whether they positioned themselves as outsiders or insiders to what they defined as the dominant literati culture of the capital, these men transformed the friendship circle into a critical source of identity and, increasingly, of literary creativity. Chapter 3, “Responding in Kind: Friendship and Poetic Exchange,” explores the mid-Tang taste for responsive and collaborative poetry composition in mid-Tang forms of verse exchange. Strong bibliographical evidence demonstrates the widespread popularity in the period for composing and collecting poetry in groups, whether those groups were loosely associated and socially asymmetrical or tightly linked and intimate. The practice of creating these poetry collections and circulating them among peers and patrons illustrates the new visibility of non-kin social relations during the period. Further, the fact that literati compiled most of these collections outside the imperial court or even the capital, in provincial capitals or in private lodgings, reveals that they conceived of friendship as a sociocultural space that was increasingly independent of imperial scrutiny or approval. The high-ranking official Quan Deyu’s prefaces to group poetry compositions help us understand the social and political weight that could be given to such collections: in one, Quan points to the disparate levels of status of the men whose poems formed the collection as a sign of their true understanding of an unjustly demoted official. In another, Quan uses his preface to reaffirm the aristocratic backgrounds and refined sensibilities of the authors, and draws on canonical and literary precedents to defend the practice of changhe 唱和 as the quintessential literati pursuit. The social burden of these collections did not entirely outweigh their literary potential, however, as we learn in Bai Juyi’s 811 “Preface to the

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Poems of Matching and Answering,” written to Yuan Zhen as Yuan was leaving Chang’an in disgrace. There, Bai Juyi lays out his arguments for the nature of poetic inspiration and response between two well-matched friends and poets, and the poems that followed exemplify the deep reading that each poet was supposed to pursue before “answering” (da 答) or “matching [harmonizing with]” (he 和) one another. The art of changhe verse could be played out in a poem-by-poem sequence or within the body of a poem, as in the lianju 聯句, or “linked verse,” form, in which each participant provided a line or couplet at a time to the evolving poem, and which was also popular in the early ninth century. The closer poetic engagement of lianju inspired Han Yu, Meng Jiao, Li Ao, and Zhang Ji in a series of groundbreaking long linked-verse poems in 806. These poems showcase the competition and collaboration of poets eager to experiment with difficult, obscure styles, and they represent a turning point in Han Yu’s literary development. Finally, I examine a series of changhe exchanges between Bai and Yuan on a difficult topic—their respective readings of their own past as they left the years of career success for the hardships of humble posts in far-flung places. In their evolving nostalgic dialogue, the two men moved from youthful boasting to fond sentimentality, and as the memories of their successes faded, they began to diverge in their views. In chapter 4, “To Know and Be Known: The Epistemology of Friendship,” I turn to the genre of letters to friends in order to explore the social and intellectual implications of “knowledge” claimed by different mid-Tang writers of their friends. Scholars have long recognized that prose letters (shu 書) matured as a powerful form in the hands of mid-Tang literati; this is in part because the extant texts demonstrate an unprecedented range of personal feeling and intellectual inquiry, most prominently in letters addressed to close associates. In some of these letters, the writers take an epistemological turn when the theoretical topic of knowing arises out of discussions of the relationship between writer and addressee. On the one hand, the assumption of epistemological continuity between social and discursive knowing was not new in the Chinese tradition; as early Confucian texts such as the Da xue 大學 (Great learning) and the Zhongyong 中庸 (The mean) argued, achieving moral order in the human realm depended on fulfilling the connections between “knowing others,” including friends, and “knowing Heaven.”

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On the other hand, these writers were charting new territory in their attempts to reason in such detail and consistency across their social and intellectual worlds, and sometimes their texts show the strain of this labor. Here I focus on letters that foreground the problem of understanding and misunderstanding, or knowing and not being known, between writer and recipient. In texts that argue for full understanding between writer and reader, such as letters by Bai Juyi to his friends Yang Yuqing 楊虞卿 (jinshi 810, d. after 835), Cui Qun, and Yuan Zhen, and by Han Yu to Cui Qun, we see an extraordinary confidence in the writer’s ability to know not only the recipient but also himself. These texts position the writer as both the subject and object of knowledge in friendship. In texts that highlight conflict and criticism, such as letters by Han Yu to Li Ao, Liu Zongyuan to Han Yu, and Li Ao to his friend Hou Gao 侯高, however, the gap of understanding between writer and reader seems unbridgeable. These portraits of conflict between friends add a new, personal dimension to a larger problem of mid-Tang intellectual culture—the lack of either a methodology or a cultural space in which informed disagreement about shared values could lead to consensus or change. In the context of epistemological questions, in other words, these writers’ exploration of individual experience in friendship was sometimes more frustrating than illuminating. Finally, in chapter 5, “For the Dead and the Living: Performing Friendship after Death,” I conclude by studying forms of mid-Tang funerary writing for deceased friends, from inscriptional genres such as the entombed epitaph and spirit path stele inscriptions (shendao bei 神道 碑), to performative and lyric genres such as the elegy (lei 誄) and offering text (jiwen 祭文). Funerary texts offered mid-Tang literati a unique opportunity to comment on the lives of deceased companions, and they reaffirmed discursively and ritually the existence of the circle for the community. The range of funerary genres also gave writers many voices in which to speak. The performative nature of offering texts and poetic laments made those genres potentially more emotionally powerful than inscriptional or biographical genres, because they allowed the mourners to speak their feelings directly to the deceased. Conversely, the seriousness and historical importance of inscriptional forms could disguise the novelty of claims made in those genres (a fact that Bai Juyi himself criti-

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cized, in attacks on overblown praise in inscriptions), and lent authority to even the most personal of assessments. I begin by surveying some examples of funerary texts that in their narratives commemorate the friendship between writer and deceased— such as Liu Zongyuan’s epitaph for Dugu Shenshu 獨孤申叔 (775–802) and Han Yu’s epitaph for Meng Jiao—as an overview of the ways literati could contextualize the lives of men well known to them. These texts rhetorically summon the community of zhizhe 知者—here, “those who knew [the deceased]”—to attest to the deceased’s achievements and moral character. As it related to the duties of composing funerary texts and performing burial rites, the friendship circle could thus serve as an important substitute for or extension of the deceased’s family. Turning to the genre of offering texts, I consider its performative nature of direct communication with both the dead and the living and show why this genre became such a powerful and innovative voice in mid-Tang funerary writing on friendship. I focus on three distinctly different approaches to the offering text as a site for public and private mourning: the political and polemic offering text for Lü Wen by his friend Liu Zongyuan in 811; the more personal, mournful offering text for Liu Zongyuan by Liu Yuxi in 819; and Bai Juyi’s comprehensive, poem-filled, exhaustive offering text for Yuan Zhen in 831. Finally, I examine the complementary portraits of the life of Han Yu as Li Ao, Huangfu Shi 皇甫湜 (777–ca. 830), and Zhang Ji portrayed it in their respective writings upon Han’s death in 824, to demonstrate the power of funerary texts to shape the deceased’s reputation for posterity. In the conclusion, I consider the impact that mid-Tang writing on friendship had on the broader literary culture, and I raise some additional questions for future research. With respect to the history of the discourse, these writers brought values of friendship more fully into public life than earlier writers had dared; they confronted the challenge of translating personal commitments into action and reflected on how to make the “knowing” of friendship a model for other kinds of understanding. In the process, however, they also discovered the limitations of bringing the private to bear on public life and also perceived the ephemerality of their flourishing historical moment. The political and social changes that fostered literati friendships in the decades of the mid-Tang gave way to a tumultuous era of weak imperial rule, increasingly bitter factionalism,

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and political decline. The political maneuvering and hypocrisy that Han Yu so often attacked were of course present in the Yuanhe reign, but the later battles of the cliques of the 820s and 830s put a rapid end to the reformist idealism of the mid-Tang generation, perhaps also to the notion of friendship as a social relation that could be negotiated with integrity in the context of competing allegiances. The impact of friendship on Tang literary history was profound. Clearly, writing about friendship was a significant component of the turn towards private life that characterized mid-Tang literary change. And yet the particular character of friendship as a shared experience pushed writers outside the realm of the merely personal, a move with important consequences. Although the medieval discourse emphasized likeness in friendship in figures such as tongxin 同心, “shared hearts and minds,” mid-Tang writers discovered the power of difference in friendship to stimulate competition and creativity in literature. By the same token, the canonical theory of literary composition privileged the individual writer, who responded to the circumstances and phenomena of the world with texts. The dyadic and collaborative models of literary composition that friendship popularized, however, forced the most perceptive literati to wrestle with others’ emotional and intellectual responses and thus their subjectivity. By reconstructing and examining the dynamics of their literary interactions, therefore, we are able to see past the hard boundaries of individual collections and perceive literary history in motion. MidTang writing on friendship survived as a unique artifact of a reformist age, and persisted as a cultural and literary influence on the literati stratum that emerged in the Song dynasty. Mid-Tang writers offered in their poems, letters, and laments some ideals of “true friendship” for future readers and also models of engaged, responsive writing that wrestled with the complex and irreducible experiences of others.

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Contexts for Friendship in Mid-Tang Literary Culture

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n one of his five extant poems on the theme of friendship, the midTang poet Meng Jiao reflects on the moral implications of making social connections (jiao 交). Examining Connections 審交 種樹須擇地 惡土變木根 結交若失人 中道生謗言 君子芳桂性 春榮冬更繁 小人槿花心 朝在夕不存 莫躡冬冰堅 中有潛浪翻 唯當金石交 可以賢達論

When you plant a tree, you must choose your ground— bad soil will transform the trunk and roots. In making connections, if you mistake your man, then in mid-journey, slander will arise. The junzi has a nature of fragrant osmanthus: flourishing in spring, in winter ever more lush. The petty man has a heart of hibiscus flower: there in the morning, but by evening gone. Never tread upon the hardness of winter ice; in the middle are hidden waves to overturn you. It is only with connections of metal and stone that one can converse with the worthy and the enlightened.1

1. Meng Jiao shi ji jiaozhu 孟郊詩集校注, ed. Hua Chenzhi 華忱之 (Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1995), 74–75. The other four poems are “Advice on Friends” 勸 友, “Seeking Friends” 求友,“Making Connections” 結交, and “Selecting Friends” 擇友

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In this series of images, Meng Jiao lists the qualities he seeks in his companions: good “ground,” or basic character; endurance through times of difficulty; stability and consistency in all situations; and, within truly solid relationships, the opportunity for intellectual debate and discussion. As a prescriptive piece rather than a portrait of a real friendship, Meng’s poem offers what seems like an unattainable model, and yet it reveals his anxieties about contemporary social relations and hints at a world filled with unreliable men of weak character and fickle commitments. In his brief “Admonition on Teachers and Friends” (“Shi you zhen” 師友箴), Liu Zongyuan presents an equally idealistic defense of the value of friends, and he ties it to the role of teachers in a broader argument about the steps in self-cultivation: In this generation, to be a teacher to others is something that the crowd finds laughable, and so no one in the world takes a teacher; therefore the Way is ever more distant. Those who act as a friend to others do not do so for the Way but for advantage, and so in all the world, there are no [true] friends; therefore the Way is ever more forsworn. Alas, alas! . . . If one does not take a teacher, then what will happen? How can I be complete [in my education and cultivation]? If one does not act as a friend and befriend others, then what will happen? How can I be added to and improved? 今之世, 為人師者眾笑之, 舉世不師, 故道益離. 為人友者, 不以道而以 利, 舉世無友, 故道益棄. 嗚呼! . . . 不師如之何? 吾何以成? 不友如之 何? 吾何以增?2

Liu draws an important distinction between the two roles of teacher and friend: unlike the role of teacher, the role of a you 友 is open to all, and anyone can befriend others in the Way, forming a relationship whose benefits to oneself and others are profound. Like Meng, Liu criticizes the failings of contemporary friendship, attacking his generation’s interest (Meng Jiao shiji jiaozhu, 102, 115, 120, 122). The figure “connections of metal and stone” for friendship appears in the second poem on “Singing of My Feelings” 詠懷 by the third-century poet Ruan Ji 阮籍 (Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi 先秦漢魏晉南 北朝詩, ed. Lu Qinli 陸欽立, 3 vols. [Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983], 1:497) and in the biography of Han Xin 韓信 in the Han shu 漢書. 2. Liu Zongyuan ji 柳宗元集 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, rpt. 2006), 2:530–31.

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in “advantage” or self-interest, in order to hold up a different model for social relations. The virtues that the two men praise derive from a discourse of friendship that dated back to the early classics and the late Eastern Zhou texts associated with Confucius. The perspectives expressed in their texts thus can be linked to the men’s interest in the moral values and texts of “antiquity” (gu 古) and are part of the mid-Tang turn towards that tradition, but they can also be understood as critiques of the social and political climate of the late eighth and early ninth centuries, an era when social connections of all kinds were necessary for success. But what did it mean to be a friend, a you 友, in mid-Tang elite culture, and why did friendship become so prominent a theme in mid-Tang writing? To answer these questions, we have to consider the incentives for making friendships in the mid-Tang literati community and, more importantly, evaluate the incentives for and potential perils in publicizing those friendships in writing. While the social, political, and economic conditions of the period certainly encouraged literati to develop robust social networks, they do not fully explain the interest in writing about peer relations; for that, we must examine developments in literary culture as well. In this chapter, I locate the new visibility of friendship in the history of a discourse on friendship and also link it to key developments of the Tang-Song transition. In particular, the confluence of certain social, political, and intellectual transformations—the appearance of more men from less prominent families in Tang government, the growing need for broad social networks to pass examinations and attain office, and a new cultural taste for innovation and reform—encouraged literati to claim a larger space for friendship in late eighth- and early ninthcentury culture. The writers I examine established a space for friendship that bridged the public and private spheres. From the perspective of their friendship circles, they began to consider more seriously the relevance of personal experience to larger cultural questions.3 The new presence of 3. Scholars of early modern Europe have made similar arguments for the transformation of friendship. See, for example, essays by the authors of History of Private Life, vol. III: Passions of the Renaissance (Roger Chartier, ed., Arthur Goldhammer, trans. [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989], esp. 399–491) in which the emergence of friendship is seen as part of the effort to “constitute a private life outside the constraints of the family” in the face of an increasingly regulatory state. Chartier and others situate

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friendship in mid-Tang literary culture did not fundamentally threaten existing social or political structures, but it opened up new ways for literati to make names for themselves and their peers and to use connections to their advantage. Instrumentality, however, was only one aspect of the emerging social networks. As Meng’s and Liu’s words suggest, mid-Tang texts on friendship also reveal that literati friendship was seen as a source of companionship and inspiration, of consolation and keen competition, and as a sign of moral character. To understand the personal and ideological dimensions of friendship that appear throughout the texts in this study, therefore, we must also consider in at least a preliminary fashion the older discourse that informed mid-Tang discussions. Mid-Tang writing on friendship focused on central values celebrated in earlier texts—camaraderie, trust, rightness, and knowledge. These values can be found in poems, histories, letters, and funerary texts that celebrate gathering with friends; among the most salient terms are trust (xin 信), knowing and being known (xiangzhi 相知), and many other terms built on the idea of understanding in friendship, such as zhiji 知己, zhiyin 知音, and zhixin 知心. The roots of these values lay in the earliest canonical definitions of friendship that were expanded by discussions of social relations in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States texts associated with the Ru tradition, most importantly in the Analects, the Mengzi, and the Xunzi.4 “the private” in this sense between “both the res publica and the family order” (400), and they emphasize the role of free choice in the formation of social circles. This historical scholarship is also informed by Habermas’s conceptualization of the bourgeois “public sphere” in the eighteenth century. I do not argue that mid-Tang literati friendship networks created a public sphere in the Habermasian sense, but I do claim that they expanded a limited social space for debate and a reexamination of cultural values that was, like Habermas’s public sphere, distinct from both private life and the public authority of the state and situated at their intersection. This social space was demarcated in part by the discourse I study here, but it was not merely a discursive phenomenon. Jurgen Habermas, The Social Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989). For discussions of private life in the mid-Tang, see Owen, “Wit and the Private Life,” in idem., The End of the Chinese “Middle Ages” (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 83–106; and Xiaoshan Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere, 243–53. 4. Contemporary scholars continue to debate the question of how to understand the definition of Ru in different historical periods. While many scholars stress that simply translating Ru in early texts as “Confucian” is an anachronism based on later usage

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This initial framework was fleshed out in Han texts that sought to prescribe the proper conduct of friendship for creating a stable, harmonious society. Though the discourse of friendship continued to evolve in an uneven manner after the fall of the Han, the concepts and terms established earlier provided a core repertoire that mid-Tang writers drew on frequently in depicting ideal and real friendships.

The Discourse of Friendship The study of friendship in premodern China is still in its infancy, and much work needs to be done on individual texts and narrowly defined historical periods before any single scholar might attempt a diachronic survey for the medieval period, whether from the perspective of social, intellectual, or literary history. While early medieval elites certainly cultivated and wrote about friendships in genres such as biographies, letters, exchange poems, and funerary commemorations, the discourse that can be reconstructed from extant sources remains rather fragmentary throughout the period before the Tang. The paucity and uneven distribution of the texts present a methodological as well as conceptual challenge. In the mid-Tang, when friendship became more visible in the historical and literary record, did this indicate a change in social practice, a shift in relative cultural values, a new interest in preserving records of friendship, or some combination of these factors? Or to pose the question more broadly, how can we determine what might have made writing about friendship more appealing, useful, or prominent in a given period of premodern Chinese history? and that during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods Ru were mostly ritualists, Tang dynasty literati reading the Analects, Mengzi, and Xunzi as sources for a discourse on friendship saw these texts as part of a Confucian tradition. See Michael Nylan, The Five “Confucian” Classics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 1–6, for the early contexts for Ru; for a study of late imperial developments, see Lionel Jensen, Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese Traditions and Universal Civilization (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997). For the Tang, see Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 15–20; Cheng Fangping 程方平, Sui Tang Wudai ruxue 隋唐五代儒學 (Kunming: Yunnan jiaoyu chubanshe, 1991); and DeBlasi, “Who is a Ru? The Evolution of a Tang Intellectual Category,” unpublished paper presented at the conference “Ideas, Networks, Places: Rethinking Chinese History of the Middle Period,” Harvard University, July 2009.

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In confronting these questions, recent scholarship on late imperial China offers useful insights. Scholars of Ming and Qing China have begun to examine the conditions in which the discourse on friendship expanded in the late imperial period, when many more texts survive. In the late Ming, which Martin Huang has called the “golden age of friendship,” elite male friendship emerged as an influential new social and discursive space for literati disaffected from the court.5 In a seminal article, Joseph McDermott has argued that late Ming writing on friendship indicated a “realignment and expansion of traditional moral focuses away from the family and the state, as the moral attractions of friendship opened up new ways for neo-Confucians to criticize and change their political traditions.”6 Similar forms of friendship have also become the focus of Qing dynasty scholarship. Norman Kutcher’s analysis of the more anxious and fraught role of friendship in the more repressive late Qing era demonstrates the link between political and ideological conservatism and the control of friendship in discourse.7 Comparison of these late imperial trends with the shift from medieval to mid-Tang dynamics of friendship—insofar as we can reconstruct them from the less detailed sources for Tang history—suggests an important difference. The incen-

5. Martin Huang, “Male Friendship in Ming China,” in Huang, ed., Male Friendship in Ming China (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 30–31. 6. Joseph McDermott, “Friendship and Its Friends in the Late Ming,” in Zhongyang yanjiu yuan jindai shi yanjiu suo, ed., Jinshi jiazu yu zhengzhi bijiao lishi lunwen ji 今世家族與政治比較歷史論文集 (Taibei: Zhongyang yanjiu yuan Jindai yanjiu suo, 1992): 67–96. For a discussion of Ming friendship in the context of one literati life, see Craig Clunas, Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470–1559 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004). See also the individual essays of Huang, Anne Gerritsen, Joseph Lam, and Kimberly Besio in Huang, ed., Male Friendship in Ming China, and a recent annotated translation, with an introduction, of Matteo Ricci’s “On Friendship” by Timothy Billings titled On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009). 7. Norman Kutcher, “The Fifth Relationship: Dangerous Friendships in the Confucian Context,” The American Historical Review 106.5 (2000): 1615–29; and see also Susan Mann, “The Male Bond in Chinese History and Culture,” American Historical Review 105.5 (2000): 1600–1614. For a work that discusses the intersections of friendship, homosexuality, and masculinity in late imperial China, see Giovanni Vitiello, The Libertine’s Friend: Homosexuality and Masculinity in Late Imperial China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011). All of these works on Ming and Qing friendship mark significant steps forward in the scholarship.

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tives for friendship among Tang elites of the late eighth and early ninth centuries were, at least initially, more overtly instrumental and political. The rising prestige of the examinations as a path to official service created new sites of homosocial bonding, as young men traveled to Chang’an, studied together, succeeded (or failed) in cohorts, and forged friendships sustained over decades. At the same time, the growing competition for offices intensified the need to make one’s name (ming 名) through literary writing. In that quest, social capital and cultural capital were to some extent fungible.8 Friendship circles, mid-Tang literati discovered, supported experimentation and debate and were also useful for circulating literary works and securing patrons. The fame that one man gained through his writing could be leveraged to promote his friends. Finally, and most influentially for later dynasties, innovative writers such as Meng Jiao, Liu Zongyuan, Bai Juyi, and Han Yu argued that friendship had moral and personal significance that had never been fully explored in the past; their many reflections on individual relationships as well as on the social relation in the abstract transformed the discourse of friendship. In order to set the context for these mid-Tang developments, I first present a brief summary of key terms and values of the early discourse that became especially important to the writers of this study. Then, drawing on comparative material, I sketch a few general patterns in the historical development of the discourse that seem to be relevant to midTang depictions of friendship, noting some features that seem unique to the Chinese tradition. Finally, I shift from discourse to practice, focusing on a few eras in medieval history before the Tang when we can discern connections between the practice of friendship and its discursive imprint.

8. My use of the terms “social capital” and “cultural capital” derives from the definitions of Pierre Bourdieu, laid out most specifically in “The Forms of Capital,” in Handbook of the Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. J. Richardson (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 241–58, but elaborated and used throughout much of his later work. In this and the following chapter, I consider two of the subtypes of cultural capital: “embodied” cultural capital, the consciously acquired and/or inherited cultural skills, training, and knowledge of an individual; and “institutionalized” cultural capital, the recognition afforded to individuals’ skills, talents, and qualifications given by institutional structures, in this case, the examination and selection systems and the imperial bureaucracy.

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Five Key Terms You 友, Friend and Friendship Mid-Tang writing on friendship drew from a set of terms and values that stemmed from early texts of the Ru tradition and also from stories and anecdotes about famous friendships from the Warring States through the Southern Dynasties era. Because mid-Tang writers often celebrated friendship as a sign of individual moral integrity, to understand this perspective we need to review its early conceptual underpinnings. Unlike the discourse of friendship in the classical and medieval West, in which the meanings of a very few terms lay at the center of the discourse and were debated, redefined, and retranslated for centuries (philia in Greek, amicitia in Latin, for example, later sometimes replaced by the Christian caritas),9 in the Chinese case, we find a small set of terms used early in the tradition that later writers modified and expanded, nuancing the discourse by accretion rather than revision, translation, or replacement. As other scholars have noted, the oldest term for a close non-kin social relation, the term that would become the paradigmatic Confucian term for “friend,” you, encompassed both kinship and peer relations in the Western Zhou; it was only during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras that these terms began to be used more consistently for nonkin social relations.10 In early influential definitions of the five canonical social relations (wulun 五倫)—father-son (fuzi 父子), ruler-subject (junchen 君臣), husband-wife (fufu 夫婦), older brother–younger brother (xiongdi 兄弟), friend-friend (youyou 友友)—the social relation of friend to friend was discussed in ways that differed profoundly from the other four.11 Not

9. For a summary of the impact of Christianity on the classical discourse, see Constance J. Mews and Neville Chiavaroli, “The Latin West,” in Barbara Caine, ed., Friendship: A History (London: Equinox Publishing, 2009), 73–110. This volume synthesizes a broad range of scholarship on European friendship from the past few decades. 10. For the Western Zhou use of you and pengyou as terms for non-kin friends and agnatic male relations, see Yiqun Zhou, Festivals, Feasts, and Gender Relations in Ancient China and Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 110–11, and n26. See also Martin Huang’s summary of some relevant scholarship in “Male Friendship in Ming China: An Introduction,” 4–6. 11. As Hsu Dau-lin notes, the five relations are not found in the Analects, and

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only was the friend-to-friend relation the only non-hierarchical one of the five, but it was also grounded in the idea of individual choice rather than in birth, gender, or given rank: one “befriended” the worthy (you xian 友賢), and one “selected” (ze 擇) and “chose” (qu 取) one’s friends.12 Moreover, it was frequently described as a relationship created between equals, those who shared the same Way (Dao 道), or “ambition” (zhi 志).13 Early Ru texts suggested that shared goals and values could even level economic or social asymmetries between friends. Confucius’s admonition in Analects 9.25 that one should not have friends who are not “like oneself” (wu you bu ru ji zhe 無友不如己者) not only stood in contrast to the principle of hierarchical, differentiated status underpinning the other four relations but also raised the difficult question of what likeness between peers might entail and how it might be recognized. These texts also considered the implications of friendship for the broader social sphere: the Analects, Mengzi, and Xunzi all contain passages arguing that the practice of “making friends” (jiaoyou 交友), if pursued ethically, could provide greater trust, stability, and culture

though they were discussed by both Mencius and Xunzi and in Han texts on social relations, Neo-Confucians later developed the most influential version of the framework. Hsu, “The Myth of the Five Human Relationships of Confucius,” Monumenta Serica 29 (1970–71): 27–37. Noted in Billings, 77n79. 12. The idea of choice is implicit in Confucius’s admonitions about having friends of the same quality as oneself (Analects 1.8 and 9.25); see also Mengzi 4B.24 for qu you in Mengzi zhengyi 孟子正義, ed. Jiao Xun 焦循 (Qing), annot. Shen Wenzhuo 沈文倬, 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987), 2:582. The Kongzi jiayu says of the junzi that “when within [the household], he is honest in his conduct, and without he befriends the worthy” 入則篤行, 出則友賢. 13. Mencius and Xunzi fleshed out the notion of shared qualities and likeness, as in Mengzi 5B.7, and in Xunzi’s “Da lue” 大略 chapter: “Friends are those with whom one has mutual interests; if one’s Way is not the same [between friends], how can one have mutual interests?” 友者, 所以相有也. 道不同, 何以相有也? Xunzi jijie 荀子集解, ed. Wang Xianqian 王先謙 (Qing), annot. Shen Xiaohuan 沈嘯寰and Wang Xingxian 王 星賢, 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988), 2:514; translation from John R. Knoblock, ed. and trans., Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works, Books 17–32, vol. 3 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 232. See also the Han dictionary Shuowen jiezi for its influential definition of you 友: “Friend/Befriend: To care for. [One who] shares the same intent is called a you” 友, 愛也. 同志曰友. The Shuowen definition is in fact one of the rare early sources that associates affection (ai 愛, what I normally translate as “care for”) with friendship.

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(wen 文) in human society.14 One’s choice of friends and one’s conduct toward friends were furthermore seen as credible evidence of individual integrity. Although the ideological weight of friendship in early texts varied from the political to the personal in different settings and genres, the argument that one’s conduct of friendship was an intelligible sign of one’s moral character was pervasive. The monosyllabic term you is the word used most commonly in the pre-Qin and Han Confucian texts for the ideal friend-friend relation, and in those texts, it assumes much more prominence than either the binome pengyou 朋友 or the single term peng.15 From the Han onward, we find many new binomes used to describe social relations between peers more precisely, many of them built on the you term, in a modifier-modified pattern (for example, liaoyou 僚友, “colleague,” a friend made through official service, or shengyou 生友, a friend made in youthful study), as well as the more neutral term youren 友人.16 Other terms

14. Analects 12.24: “Master Zeng said, ‘The gentleman acquires friends by means of cultural refinement, and then relies on his friends for support in becoming humane” 君 子以文會友, 以友輔仁. Lunyu jishi 論語集釋, ed. Cheng Shude 程樹德 (Qing), annot. Cheng Junying 程俊英 and Jiang Jianyuan 蔣見元, 4 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990), 3:878–79. Translation modified from Edward Slingerland, Analects (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2003), 137. 15. The Analects famously begins with peng “coming from afar” (有朋自遠方來), but this is the only occurrence of peng used by itself in the text. For the debate over whether 有 should be read as 友, see the collected commentary in Lunyu jishi, 1:5–7. The most common term for a non-kin relation in the Analects is you, used as a single term (it appears as both noun and verb) in twelve discrete passages. Pengyou is used as a compound in six passages. The importance of you as the paradigmatic Confucian term for both the ideal friend and the action of “befriending [those that are worthy of oneself]” is even more apparent in Mengzi, where it appears as noun and verb no fewer than twenty-six times, and is the sole topic of an exchange between Wan Zhang and Mencius in 5B.3. The same is true in Xunzi, where the single term you appears as both noun and verb seventeen times; in contrast, the term peng appears only five times in total, three of which are in the compound pengdang 朋黨. Given the prominence of pengdang and dang in Legalist texts, Xunzi perhaps sought to strengthen the valence of you as a morally correct form of social association in response. 16. Along with expanding the mechanics and ethics of friendship, we see in Han texts a greater range of vocabulary for describing social associations, a pattern that is consistent with the development of the classical language. To give one simple example, we can compare the range and frequency of uses of the word 友 in disyllabic noun and verb phrases for social relations in the Shi ji and Hou Han shu: the latter text

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that indicated acquaintance, if not specifically a non-kin relationship, could be used to emphasize the nature or length of a connection (gujiu 故舊, for example, a compound of two terms for “old,” indicating associations from long ago). Changing the modifier of the you term in the compound could also indicate the intensity of a connection, as we see in the story preserved in the Hou Han shu 後漢書 (Latter Han history) and, later, in the Sou shen ji 搜神記 (Record of seeking the supernatural) story of Fan Shi 範式 (style name Juqing 巨卿) and Zhang Shao 張劭 (style name Yuanbo 元伯), in which Zhang draws a clear distinction between one kind of friend, whom he calls shengyou 生友, by which he means a friend in life, and the truest sworn friend, one to whom he is bound even after death, a siyou 死友.17 Alongside these new terms, many medieval texts highlight the single term you in ways that suggest it retained its privileged, paradigmatic status as a term denoting “true friend,” and that it served to distinguished a close bond from a merely social or instrumental one. For example, the Wei dynasty poet Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210–63) suggests in poem 69 of his “Singing of My Feelings” (“Yong huai” 詠懷): “Everyone knows that making connections is easy; / but making friends is uniquely hard” 人 知結交易, 交友誠獨難.18 Centuries later, in the annotation of the Five

contains over 150 discrete uses, the Shi ji only thirty. This expansion was of course not limited to the language of friendship; see Feng Shengli’s argument that the Han saw an important growth in compound word formation, in his analysis of Zhao Qi’s commentary to Mengzi, the Mengzi zhangju 孟子章句. Feng, “Prosodic Structure and Compound Words in Classical Chinese,” in Jerome L. Packard, ed., New Approaches to Chinese Word Formation: Morphology, Phonology, and the Lexicon in Modern and Ancient Chinese (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1998), 197–260. 17. However, the unusual quality of the friendship between Fan and Zhang is underscored by the fact that their history appears in the “Singular Conduct” 獨行 biographies of the Hou Han shu. See Hou Han shu 後漢書, comp. Fan Ye 范曄, annot. Chen Yangliang 陳炴良 and Li Chuanshu 李傳書 (Changsha: Yue Lu shushe, 1994), 1164–65. The story is repeated in the Sou shen ji under the title “A Parting in Life and Death” 生死之別; see Sou shen ji, Sou shen hou ji yizhu, ed. and annot. Liu Qi 劉琦and Liang Guofu 粱國輔 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe, 1997), 324–25. Another set of friends, Chen Yi 陳義 and Lei Chong 雷重, whose paired names became a later allusion to fast friendship, also appear in the “Singular Conduct” biographies. 18. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi, 1:508. Also translated in Donald Holzman, Poetry and Politics: The Life and Times of Juan Chi, A.D. 210–263 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 113–14. As Holzman notes, the poem is unique in Ruan’s corpus due to its abstract rather than personal approach to friendship as a topic.

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Classics, the Tang scholar Kong Yingda 孔潁達 (574–648) reinforced the distinction between the merely associative quality of peng and the more profound sense of likeness implicit in you by recalling the definition in the Han dictionary Shuowen jiezi 說文解字: “Those of the same gates [belonging to the same teacher or patron] are called peng; those of the same intent [or aspirations], are called you.”19 But the binome pengyou also survived to mean “true friend” in other contexts, as we see in later Han texts such as the Bai hu tong 白虎通, which praised the personal benefits of the “Way of friendship” (pengyou zhi Dao 朋友之道).20 The language of friendship was not limited to the realm of horizontal non-kin associations, and in fact it was often appropriated for other purposes, even absorbed into compounds describing other relationships. We see this in a number of binomes found in pre-Qin and Han texts; the terms youti 友悌, indicating morally sound fraternal relations, and xiaoyou 孝友, referring to proper filial conduct (xiao) in all family relations, though chiefly the conduct of sons to fathers, are two important examples in which the you term was subordinated to the term pointing to other paradigmatic relations.21 The relationship of students to their teachers could be cast as the relationship between

19. Zhou yi zheng yi, in Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), 1:276. 20. This and other statements in the Bai hu tong suggest that a formal understanding of ethical conduct in friendship, grounded in Ru virtues, circulated at least among Han elites. In Bai hu tong, see, for example, juan 4, where the requirements of friends in the “Way of friendship” are spelled out: not only does it acknowledge that people form friendships in order to “establish themselves and make their names known” (立身揚名), but it also stipulates that friends were required to share wealth when needed, guide the friend in good conduct, praise the friend when separated, and when a friend was happy, to think of him; when in distress, to die for him. The entire passage reads: 朋友相為隱 者, 人本接朋結友, 為欲立身揚名也. 朋友之道有四焉, 通財不在其中, 近則正之, 遠 則稱之, 樂則思之, 患則死之. This is one of the strongest and most specific statements about the conduct of friends extant from the Han. Bai hu tong shuzheng 白虎通疏證, ed. Chen Li 陳立 (Qing), annot. Wu Zeyu 吳則虞, 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1994), 1:241–42. On the larger issue of Han friendship conventions, see the article by Ma Tingting 馬婷婷, “Lun Handai jiaoyou zhi li” 論漢代交遊之禮, Guanzi xuekan 管子學刊 3 (2007): 93–97. 21. The term xiaoyou is found in the Shi jing (Mao 177, “Sixth Month” [“Liu yue” 六月]), and it seems to retain the meaning of model fraternal or filial conduct through the medieval period. The category of xiaoyou first appears as a title for a subset of biographies in the Tang-compiled Jin shu, and it is also found in the Yiwen leiju.

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a group of you to their shi 師; like the fraternal versions of the teacherstudent relationship (shixiong 師兄 and shidi 師弟), shiyou 師友 was a term for men who shared the same teacher, or, alternately, a term for a teacher with whom one had a friend-like relationship.22 The most common verbs for forming social associations, jiao 交 and jie 結, seen in the Ruan Ji poem, appear to have been value-neutral and could be applied in hierarchical as well as same-status relations.23 Despite this diversification in the vocabulary of friendship branching out from the term you, early definitions of the friend-friend relation as one of the core Five Relations indelibly inscribed the single term with positive moral value and guaranteed its preeminent place in the discourse through the end of the Tang and well after. Fellowship and Its Negative, the Faction, Dang 黨 The simplest and oldest of the early values attributed to friendship is that of fellowship in feasting and companionship for study. The image of the you relationship as that formed among fellows of like interests and kind— gathered together at banquets, for example, or community rituals—can be found in many odes from the Shi jing, such as Mao 165, “Woodcutting” (“Fa mu” 伐木), that provided stock allusions for collegial gathering

22. For these three terms, see Hanyu da cidian vol. 3A, 717 and 719. We have early examples of the term shiyou; it appears in Xunzi 2.4, though there it seems to be a disyllabic compound, “teachers and friends,” a usage that is sometimes difficult to distinguish from “friend with whom I shared a teacher.” John Knoblock translates this as: “What is common and mediocre, worthless and undisciplined, is overcome with the help of teachers and friends.” Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 1, 154. However, the uses of the term in the Hou Han shu, for example, tend to designate co-students of the same teacher, and also suggest that the roles had become formalized, in references to a “Way of friends who shared the same teacher” (shi you zhi Dao 師友之道), and the “ritual” or “etiquette” (shi you zhi li 師友之禮) for that kind of relationship (HHS, 568–69). 23. Paul Rouzer has argued that in the Han, friendship seems to have been vulnerable to being reinscribed as a hierarchical relationship, particularly in the model of the patron-client relation, and thus subject to more stringent and visible ritual norms. This effort to “harness friendship’s difficulties and instabilities in the service of political power networks” was paralleled ideologically in the Han by texts that sought to define and regulate friendship within the boundaries of ritual conduct. Rouzer, “The Life of the Party: Theorizing Clients and Patrons in Early China,” Comparative Literature 58: 1 (2006), 59–69.

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later in the tradition.24 The Confucian version of fellowship transformed simple social connection into a shared pursuit of learning and mutual cultivation, as the famous opening passage of the Analects captured it: “To learn, and then have occasion to practice what you have learned—is this not satisfying? To have friends [or: a friend] arrive from afar—is this not a joy? To be patient even when others do not understand [or know one]—is this not indeed like a superior person?” 學而時習之, 不亦說 乎? 有朋自遠方來, 不亦樂乎? 人不知而不慍, 不亦君子乎?25 This and other passages affirmed the value of friendship as a component of learning and self-cultivation.26 In the process of gathering together for learning, it was also the expected duty of the friend to “demand goodness” (ze shan 責善) of his companions, to critique a friend’s behavior and guide him in his moral formation.27 Unlike Aristotelian definitions of friendship, which distinguished relationships of utility from those of virtue or pleasure, many early Chinese texts suggested that virtue, utility, and pleasure could all coincide in the intercourse of well-chosen friends. The potential problems in forming friendships, however, also emerge in these early texts, as signaled obliquely in Analects 15.22, which argues

24. Allusions to “Fa mu” 伐木, which describes a feast, are common in medieval depictions of friendship, surely in part due to the “lesser preface” statement on the meaning of the poem that begins: “‘Woodcutting’ is [a piece] about feasting friends and old acquaintances. From the son of Heaven to the common people, there have never been those who are not completed by friends” 伐木, 燕朋友故舊也. 自天子至於庶人, 未有不須友而成者. Mao shi zhengyi 毛詩正義, in Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben) 十三 經註疏 (整理本), ed. Ruan Yuan 阮元 (Qing), annot. Li Xueqin 李學勤 et al. (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2000), 5:673–75. Michael Nylan argues of this ode, “Even the minor incremental repetitions . . . mimicked the successive stages of ‘getting to know’ a good friend over the years, allowing one to savor the familiar that was ever new.” Nylan, Five “Confucian” Classics, 105. 25. Translation modified from Slingerland, Analects, 1. 26. As Norman Kutcher points out, however, key Neo-Confucians diminished the importance of the friendship bond in this context, focusing on the joy in one’s self-cultivation over the joy experienced with friends. Kutcher, “The Fifth Relationship,” 1620–21. 27. See Mengzi 4B.30, where the task of “demanding goodness” of others is in fact restricted to the friend-friend relationship and inappropriate in the father-son relationship: 責善朋友之道也. (Mengzi zhengyi, 2:599). See also Xunzi’s statement on the different roles that teachers and friends have in guiding one to good conduct, in Xunzi jijie, 1:21.

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that the superior person “forms groups [‘flocks’] but not factions” (qun er bu dang 群而不黨).28 No early texts argued that fellowship was inherently beneficial, and some texts addressed the danger of bad associations explicitly, as in Analects 16.4: “It is beneficial to have three kinds of friends; it is detrimental to have three other kinds of friends. To make friends with the forthright, the trustworthy in word, and the well informed is beneficial. To make friends with the ingratiating in action, the pleasing in appearance, and the plausible in speech is detrimental” 益者 三友, 損者三友, 友直, 友諒, 友多聞, 益矣. 友便辟, 友善柔, 友便佞, 損矣.29 Early positive depictions of horizontal social ties had a powerful negative inverse in discussions of dang 黨 or pengdang 朋黨, the alliance or faction. Just as the you term in Western Zhou texts included agnatic male relations but then narrowed to denote non-kin relationships in the texts of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras, the dang term, as Ari Levine has shown, also had a broader semantic range in its early history, when it was used for horizontal affiliations formed for good purposes. However, texts from the Warring States period through the end of the Han increasingly used the terms dang and pengdang to designate malign factions at court, giving the words a more consistently negative and political meaning in medieval texts.30 Defining a horizontal social relationship as morally positive or negative, therefore, required one to use terms with clear moral valence, as well as to give a description of the social or political context in which the relationship was sustained. The writer’s position vis-à-vis the relationship was critical. A neutral jiao in the eyes of one viewer could be depicted as a relationship between you or 28. Translators take very different approaches to this passage. Slingerland (Analects, 183) renders the phrase qun er bu dang as “sociable, but not partisan”; D. C. Lau renders it as “comes together with other gentlemen without forming cliques” (Lau, trans., The Analects [London: Penguin Books, 1979], 135.) Slingerland’s translation elides the implication of organic likeness (of the same species) among the men who come together in a qun, which I think coincides with other claims in early texts about goals and aspirations that were tong, shared or alike, between friends. 29. Nylan, Five “Confucian” Classics, 104. 30. Ari Levine, Divided by a Common Language: Factional Conflict in Late Northern Song China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008), 24–27. Levine also examines some of the critical early texts on factions to which Northern Song literati returned in search of support for their factional rhetoric, 28–41.

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pengyou by its participants or as a politically threatening dang or pengdang by others.31 Xin 信, Trust and Fidelity As we saw in the funerary text by Han Yu, in Meng Jiao’s poem, and Liu Zongyuan’s admonition, the question of trust and fidelity among friends loomed large for some mid-Tang literati, especially for those who sought moral and literary inspiration in the texts of antiquity. In early Ru texts such as the Analects, Mengzi, and Xunzi, the value of xin 信, trust and fidelity, appears as the cardinal virtue bound tightly to the paradigmatic role of you.32 In describing the sage Shun’s teaching regarding human social roles, for example, Mengzi links each of the Five Relations to a specific value that is to be performed within the relationship: “Between father and children there is affection; between ruler and ministers there is rightness; between husband and wife there is distinction; between elder and younger there is precedence; and between friends there is trust and fidelity” 父子 有親, 君臣有義, 夫婦有別, 長幼有序, 朋友有信.33 Xunzi goes further in discussing the effects of well-chosen friendship on one’s social circle: “If one obtains good men as his friends, then what he sees will be conduct marked by loyalty, trust and fidelity, respect, and deference” 得良友而友 之, 則所見者忠信敬讓之行也.34 The value of xin as it is invoked in these descriptions of friendship is unusual in that it demonstrates both active

31. The single terms could also be combined in ways that emphasized one or the other half of the moral equation: for example, in the Han shu, the term dangyou 黨友 often signifies “member of [a particular] clique” in a negative sense. The Hou Han shu, on the other hand, overwhelmingly prefers dangren 黨人, and dangyou does not appear at all; discussions of dang and factionalism were of course critical to the work. On the HHS discussions of factionalism, see Levine, Divided by a Common Language, 37–39. 32. See Analects 1.4, 1.7, and 5.26, for example, where the existence of trust between friends (through keeping one’s word, as in 1.7: 與朋友交言而有信) serves as one measure of moral integrity. For a discussion of the way in which the value of xin (“trustworthiness” in her translation) modulates in different passages regarding friendship and learning, see Wiebke Denecke, The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010), 103–10. 33. Mengzi 3A.4 (Mengzi zhengyi, 1:385–86); translation modified from Bryan Van Norden, Mengzi (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2008), 71. 34. Translation adapted from Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 3, 161–62.

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and passive dimensions: one friend can trust another, and over the course of the relationship, the quality of fidelity can grow between them. Both Mengzi and Xunzi consider the broader political and instrumental meanings of “befriending” others, and the practice of “befriending” is extended to the faithful bonds between men of different ranks, sometimes to elder or younger brothers, between states, and even, most famously, to “the ancients,” through reading their words.35 For Mengzi, the level of trust between friends depended upon the equal status and commitment to virtue (de 德) of men designated as you; the relationship could nourish trust as a general social good because true friends did not demand benefits or power from one another. Mengzi’s disciple Wan Zhang said, “May I ask about friendship?” Mengzi replied, “One does not become someone’s friend by presuming upon one’s age or social status or family relationship. In making friends, one befriends the virtue of another person, and there may not be anything else one presumes on.” 萬章問曰, 敢問友. 孟子曰, 不挾長, 不挾貴, 不挾兄弟而友. 友也者, 友其 德也, 不可以有挾也.36

This idealistic view of friendship formation was clearly meant to address the problem of instrumentality, of exploiting friendship for benefit, but it also evokes the potential instability of friendship in comparison to familial ties. This and other comments in the Mengzi treat the problem from both directions—by situating the initial formation of friendship in virtue and then emphasizing the need to perform friendship correctly with trust and fidelity (xin) to make it endure. Mengzi’s view of friendship was perhaps more egalitarian than any view advanced in the Analects or even later in Xunzi, but it was a line of thinking that mid-Tang literati found especially compelling, because it was grounded in the idea of careful choice and respect for the friend’s virtue.

35. Mengzi 5B.8 (Mengzi zhengyi, 2:725–26). 36. Mengzi 5B.3 (Mengzi zhengyi, 2:690–91); translation with modifications from Van Norden, Mengzi, 134. The early Eastern Han scholar Zhao Qi, in his commentary to Mengzi 5B.7, states, “[Wan Zhang] is asking about the Way of friendship” 問朋友 之道也.

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Although this model of friendship emphasizes the thoughtful cultivation of friends as the foundation of interpersonal trust and fidelity, other early stories of faithful bonds found in the histories, such as the bond between the Warring States assassin Jing Ke 荊軻 and his friend the lute player Gao Jianli 高漸離 or, as we see below, that between Warring States minister Guan Zhong 管仲 and his friend Bao Shuya 鮑 叔牙, emphasized the element of “brotherhood,” ties of emotional intensity that transcended questions of virtue or self-cultivation. The chivalric bonds depicted in texts about the Three Kingdoms era, such as the bond between the Shu ruler Liu Bei 劉備 and his advisor Zhuge Liang 諸葛亮, though initially defined by the hierarchical relation of lord and minister, seem to draw on this model of unswerving personal commitment as well. This model addressed the problem of trust and fidelity in yet another way, by promising an affective bond that would endure despite hardship, and it too played a part in shaping the expectations for non-kin bonds in the medieval world, particularly in the context of chivalric culture.37 In many exemplary friendships, the weight of trust and fidelity also included mutual commitment throughout changes in the friends’ respective statuses—as many funerary texts tell us, the trust and fidelity of true friendship had to be performed even after death for it to be fully realized. Yi 義, Rightness These early texts offered general statements about friendship, but they did not stipulate the conduct required by a friend in any detail, nor did they examine historical cases of friendship to elucidate the principles they proposed. Han texts on ritual appear to have been critical in consolidating the themes and language of earlier texts. They offered guidance on making correct choices in forming bonds and praised the use of carefully chosen connections as an aid to self-cultivation and as a manifestation of yi 義, “rightness” or correct and appropriate conduct, in social relations.38 37. For a discussion of late Ming and Qing literary versions of this bond in chivalric culture, see Vitiello, The Libertine’s Friend, 61–85. See also Alan Bray’s discussion of ritual brotherhood, a European analogue to the Chinese chivalric bond, in The Friend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 13–41. 38. See Nylan, Five “Confucian” Classics, 174–75, for a discussion of the dating and compilation of the ritual canons; although the Li ji surely contained material from preHan classicists, it was likely compiled and edited in the early Western Han.

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At the same time, such texts underscored the practical need for friendship in one’s social and intellectual formation, attained through studying with others. Mid-Tang men who formed friendships while preparing for examinations found many lessons in these canonical texts. For example, the “Record of Study” (“Xue ji” 學記) chapter of the Li ji (Record of ritual) drew a strong contrast between the role of a true friend, denoted by the term you, and the potential vices of mere “companions,” peng. It also emphasized the educational benefits of friendship: “If one studies alone and has no friends, one will be solitary and uncultivated, and little informed. Having [mere] feasting companions leads to opposing one’s teacher, and having dissolute companions leads to neglecting one’s learning” 獨學而無友, 則孤陋而寡聞. 燕朋逆其師, 燕辟廢其學.39 The “Conduct of a Ru” (“Ru xing” 儒行) chapter of the same compilation contains a passage regarding a Ru’s conduct in making friendships (jiaoyou 交友): The Ru has those with whom he agrees in purpose and shares the same objective and with whom he pursues the same path and shares the same methods. When they occupy the same place, then [he and his friend(s)] are happy; if one is [ranked] beneath the other, then they do not find it oppressive. Even if they do not see one another for a long time, if one hears [ill] rumors of the other, he does not believe them. His conduct [of friendship] is rooted in correctness, and he stands in what is right; thus when he is in accord, he advances [with friends], and if not in accord, he retreats. His way of making and maintaining friendships is like this. 儒有合志同方, 營道同術. 并立則樂, 相下不厭. 久不相見, 聞流言不信. 其行本方立義, 同而進, 不同而退. 其交友有如此者.40

This definition of the correct approach to friendship is grounded in emotional concord, personal fidelity, and the value of “rightness.” Moreover, it is defined as a relationship conducted without reference to the political realm, and ideally even impervious to differences in rank or status. Other references in the Li ji to the role of friendship in funerary ritual or

39. Li ji zhengyi, in Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), 13:256. 40. Ibid., 14:314. On the importance of hierarchies and the need for reciprocity in social conduct in the Li ji, see Nylan, Five “Confucian” Classics, 185–88.

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education show a similar tendency to locate friendship in the context of personal relationships, and to underscore its lesser importance with respect to filial or marital relations.41 These prescriptive statements argued for the necessity of forming bonds with peers as a way to develop intellectually and ethically as a human social actor, as long as those bonds were maintained in a manner that was consistent with a whole range of Confucian values, such as filiality, humility, rightness, and humaneness. Moreover, by more systematically integrating friendship into elite education and preparation for political office, such prescriptions also documented its new uses. Zhiwozhe 知我者, One Who Knows Me In addition to the values of fellowship, rightness, and trust and fidelity, one other significant attribute of friendship from the early discourse appealed to many mid-Tang writers. This was the value of understanding between friends, the ability of a friend to serve as “one who knows me” (zhiwozhe 知我者). The phrase is associated with the ode from the Shi jing titled “The Wine-Millet Bends” (“Shu li” 黍離), a poem composed of three stanzas that each contain a reference to “those who know me” (using Waley’s plural translation). Knowing someone, in this context, means being able to see into another’s heart and understand his feelings: 彼黍離離 彼稷之苗 行邁靡靡 中心搖搖 知我者 謂我心憂 不知我者 謂我何求 悠悠蒼天 此何人哉

That wine-millet bends under its weight, that cooking-millet is in sprout. I go on my way, bowed down by the cares that shake my heart. Those who know me say, “It is because his heart is so sad.” Those who do not know me say, “What is he looking for?” Oh, azure Heaven far away, what sort of men can they be? 42

41. For example, in funerary ritual, friends mourn for friends “outside the door of the chamber,” and they only mourn to the point where “the grass is dead on the tomb of the friend.” “Tan gong A,” Li ji zhengyi, vol. 14, 111. More generally, a friend does not enter the gate of a male friend’s home if the wife is present and the male friend is not. “Fang ji,” Li ji zhengyi, vol. 14, 198. 42. Mao shi zhengyi, in Shisan jing zhushu (zheng li ben), 4:297–300; Arthur Waley, trans., The Book of Songs, ed. Joseph R. Allen (New York: Grove Press, 1996), 56.

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In the ode, the speaker presents himself as the object of knowledge more than as the one who “knows” or understands the hearts of others, but at the same time, the poem itself becomes the means by which the speaker will be understood by readers. This kind of knowing had political as well as emotional dimensions. The Analects prominently set out the problem of “being known” by others in Confucius’s many statements about those who do or do not know him, and how the gentleman should respond to not being known and appreciated. The term zhiji 知己, which can also be translated “one who knows me” and which later became a fixed epithet for a patron and a friend, does not appear as a disyllabic term in the Analects or the Mengzi.43 Rather, the words appear five times in negative sentences, as in Analects 1.16: “Do not be concerned about whether others know you; be concerned about not knowing others” 不患 人之不己知, 患不知人也.44 This injunction not only shifts agency from the knower (the potential patron) to the one wishing to be known (the seeker of office), but it redirects students’ ambition toward understanding others, and thus toward the study of human nature and moral conduct rather than mere self-benefit. To “know/understand people” (zhiren 知人) was a form of knowing essential to good governance because it allowed rulers to assess others’ skills and use them appropriately.45 As Michael Nylan has demonstrated, the empathetic and political dimensions of knowledge in friendship converge in an influential early story, the Warring States story of the minister Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya, pieces of which are found in the commentarial traditions of the Shi jing, in the Zuo zhuan 佐傳 (Zuo tradition), then more fully in the biography of Guan Zhong in the Shi ji 史記 (Historical records) and, later, as an anecdote in the Liezi 列子.46 In 43. The history of the term before the Tang deserves a separate study and is too large to be addressed here. 44. Lunyu jishi 1:58–59; Slingerland, Analects, 7. The presence of the negative adverbs bu 不 and mo 莫 in the passages causes the inversion of verb and object in 1.16 and elsewhere. 45. On zhi ren as a form of knowing in early Chinese texts, see Christoph Harbsmeier, “Conceptions of Knowledge in Ancient China,” in Epistemological Issues in Classical Chinese Philosophy, ed. Hans Lenk and Gregor Paul (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993), 14–15. 46. See Nylan’s discussion of this story and its implications for knowing and friendship in early China, in Five “Confucian” Classics, 106–8.

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the basic outline of the story, Bao Shuya “sees past” Guan Zhong’s early poor political service to his essential character; as a result of Bao Shuya’s unwavering support, Guan Zhong goes on to be a powerful minister to Duke Huan of Qi 齊桓公, the first of the hegemons who propped up the declining Zhou state. Without Bao Shuya’s understanding and his willingness to stand by his friend through misfortune (hence, his xin 信 in the sense of fidelity), Guan Zhong would never have succeeded. Guan Zhong’s statement about their relationship is found in his Shi ji biography and repeated in the Liezi: “The ones who gave birth to me are my parents, but the one who knows me is Bao” 生我者父母, 知我者鲍子也.47 Although the pairing of Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya becomes in later texts a standard allusion for “close friendship,” the Shi ji version does not identify the two men as you or make any comment regarding their relationship.48 The Liezi story, on the other hand, opens with the statement that “the two men were very close friends” 二人相友甚戚, suggesting that the story became more popular as a tale of intimate friendship later in the tradition.49 During the period of division, this older sense of zhiren also fed the evolving practice of “character appraisal,” so prominent in texts such as the fifth-century anecdote collection Shi shuo xin yu 世說 新語 (New account of tales of the world), a practice that embodied the political and, later, the aesthetic significance of being able to evaluate character through speech, actions, and visual cues.50 47. Sima Qian 司馬遷, Shi ji 史記 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), 62.2132. 48. Ibid., where Sima Qian notes, “The world did not see as important [the fact of] Guan Zhong’s worthiness, but rather Bao Shu’s ability to know others” 天下不多管仲 之賢而多鮑叔能知人也. 49. Liezi jishi 列子集釋, ed. Yang Bojun 楊伯峻 (Taibei: Huazheng shuju, 1987), 198; A. C. Graham, trans., The Book of Lieh-tzu: A Classic of Tao (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 124. For a close study of this story in the late imperial dramatic and fictional traditions, see Kimberly Besio’s article, “A Friendship of Metal and Stone: Representations of Fan Juqing and Zhang Yuanbo in the Ming Dynasty,” in Huang, ed., Male Friendship in Ming China, 111–45. 50. My discussion here draws heavily on Nylan’s discussion of the Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya story and the Bo Ya and Zhong Ziqi story in the context of “knowing” and the Odes (106–8). For the development of character appraisal in the late Han, Wei, and Western Jin eras, see Nanxiu Qian, Spirit and Self in Medieval China: The Shih-shuo hsin-yü and Its Legacy (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2001), 20–42. See also Jack W. Chen, “Knowing Men and Being Known: Gossip and Social Networks in the Shishuo xinyu,” in Gossip and Anecdote in Traditional China, ed. Chen and David Schaberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), 55–70.

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Although the terms zhiwozhe and zhiji ascribe the “knowing” to others and position the speaker as its object, we can also find terms and models for mutual understanding in friendship (xiangzhi 相知, “knowing one another” or “knowing mutually”) that emphasize a symmetrical knowledge between subjects, in the almost transcendental mode noted above. In what became an even more famous story, that of the zither player Bo Ya 伯牙 and his companion Zhong Ziqi 鍾子期, known through its slightly different versions in the Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋 (The annals of Lü Buwei) and the Liezi, we see the assimilation of “knowledge” from one realm of experience to that of friendship. In their story, the intimate understanding of music (zhiyin 知音) that the two men share becomes a sign of the harmony of their two heart-minds (xin 心).51 The object of knowledge in the term zhiyin is thus not a person but the communal experience of music that creates the bond between two individuals. Different versions of the story have distinct endings: in the version found in Han shi waizhuan 韓氏外傳 (The exoteric commentary of Mr. Han), upon Zhong Ziqi’s death, Bo Ya breaks his zither and never plays again. As Nylan notes, this story is not simply about knowing someone’s heart or understanding music. “Bo Ya . . . has been brought to self-knowledge: recognition of his superlative talent is coupled with a realization of the enormity of the loss he has sustained in his friend’s death.”52 The idea 51. See also Nylan’s translation of the Han shi waizhuan version of the story as an example of intimate knowledge, in Five “Confucian” Classics, 107. Although the story continues to retain its affiliation to music in the Tang and the meaning of “someone who understands music deeply,” Tang poetry reveals its increasing use as a figure for “close friend.” Both meanings appear in Tang verse, and there are over 250 uses of the compound in the Quan Tang shi. 52. Nylan, Five “Confucian” Classics, 107. Cao Zhi’s “Letter to Wu Zhi,” allusions to which appear in many later texts depicting friendship, was an early influential text for this use of zhiyin: “Bo Ya broke his strings over Zhong Qi, / Zhong Ni [Confucius] overturned his bowl for Zilu, / wounded by the difficulty of encountering zhiyin, / and grieved that the men of their gates would never return” 伯牙絕絃於鍾期, 仲尼覆醢於 子路, 痛知音之難遇, 傷門人之莫逮 (Wen xuan 42.1897). As one indication of how the story was read in the Tang and Song, however, it was placed in the section on the zither, qin 琴, in the Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, as well as in the Taiping yulan and Taiping guangji. To a certain extent, this indicates the conservatism of the “encylopedia” (lei shu 類書) genre—older material was often simply copied rather than being re-categorized—but it also suggests that the primary sense of the story continued to be “one who understands music” through the Tang.

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that true friendship existed in an almost wordless communion of xin can be found in other terms for friends such as “one who knows my heart” (zhixin 知心) and “one whose heart is the same as mine,” or “who shares my heart and mind” (tongxin 同心).53 It is important to note that the problem of misunderstanding seldom arises in these stories of model friendship; as we will see in mid-Tang texts that grapple with the question of knowing in friendship in chapter 4, there were few guides in the tradition to dealing with the failure of a friend to understand and “know one’s heart.”

Historical Patterns Understanding the new visibility of friendship in mid-Tang writing requires a wider perspective than that based on the existing textual tradition alone, however; we must also consider what historical conditions of early and medieval China might have fostered greater interest in friendship at different moments. The extant writing on friendship from before the Tang allows us to discern core concepts of a fragmentary discourse of friendship that resonated in different periods, but the lack of texts such as letters or diaries that would document the conduct of particular social relationships sharply limits our view of the practice of friendship before the Song dynasty. However, recent scholarship on late classical and medieval European friendship provides useful models for understanding, in broad outline, the relationship between shifts in social and political structures and the representation of friendship in premodern texts. Despite the important differences between the European and Chinese traditions, this scholarship on medieval European friendship in turn helps clarify the importance of times of political disruption and 53. One famous example can be found in the letter attributed to the Han official Li Ling 李陵 (d. 74 BCE) to his friend and fellow official Su Wu 蘇武 (d. 60 BCE) that is very likely a later composition: “In mutual knowledge between people, what is most valued is mutually understanding each other’s hearts” 人之相知, 貴相知心 (Wen xuan 41.1847). The term zhixin appears in mid- and late Tang poetry (seventy-three uses in QTS) as both a binome meaning “friend” and a verb-object compound, “to understand [another’s] heart.”

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social transformation in shaping the role of friendship in medieval elite Chinese culture.54 The prominence of friendship in European history from the classical through the early modern period can hardly be overstated. From the work of Aristotle on, friendship in its many forms was considered fundamental for political and social order in the Western world.55 As Julian Haseldine, a historian of monastic friendship in late medieval Europe, argues, “The problem which friendship presented to ancient [Greek and Roman] thinkers—and which in turn seemed quite a natural starting point, for all the differences in circumstance, to their medieval successors—was . . . how does the institution of friendship form and regulate human society?”56 The founding work of Aristotle that theorized the role of friendship in secular society and Cicero’s exploration of late Roman friendship are only two of the earliest influences in Western theories of friendship. The Christianization of friendship in the early medieval period added spiritual and transcendental dimensions to earlier definitions of friendship as a force for social and personal virtue. By the thirteenth century, there existed a longstanding, coherent body of philosophical and religious arguments for the value of friendship, such as the importance of love in friendship (as a pathway to God in some Christian definitions), or the use of spiritual friendship (spiritualis amicitia) with others as a form of self-cultivation and religious practice.57 Furthermore, the language of friendship was commonly deployed to create networks 54. The social history of friendship in medieval and early modern Europe has also been fed both by gender studies (in particular, by studies of women’s friendships, male homosexuality, and homosociality) and interest in the role of friendship in private life. For some notable recent studies of male friendship practices and discourses, see Jacques Derrida, Les politiques de l’amitié (Paris: Editions Galilée, 1994); John Najemy, Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513–1515 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Reginald Hyatte, The Arts of Friendship: The Idealization of Friendship in Medieval and Early Renaissance Literature (Leiden: Brill, 1994); Alan Bray, The Friend (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); Julian Haseldine, ed., Friendship in Medieval Europe (London: Alan Sutton Press, 1999); and David Clark, Between Medieval Men: Male Friendship and Desire in Early Medieval English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). 55. See John von Heyking and Richard Avramenko, eds., Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), 1–8. 56. Haseldine, Friendship in Medieval Europe, xviii. 57. For the range of early medieval Christian ideals, see Hyatte, The Arts of Friendship, 43–86.

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across multiple spheres of European medieval life, from political alliances to literary exchange.58 In short, both the discourse and the practice of friendship among elite men (and women) in medieval and early modern Europe had strong philosophical and religious foundations. From a discursive perspective, the differences in the relative importance of friendship to cultural values in pre-modern Europe and China are considerable. Most striking perhaps is the difference between China and Western Europe in the relative influence of the major philosophical and religious traditions on the development of friendship ideals. Whereas in Europe, early classical and secular definitions of friendship transformed and endured through the influence of Christianity, in China, we do not see similar impacts on the discourse of friendship from Buddhist or Daoist sources before the Tang. In the extant texts of early medieval China, friendship is a negligible presence in the scriptures— though surely not the practices—of the great religious traditions.59 In fact, the extant textual and material evidence suggests that after the early period of definition of friendship in the texts associated with the Ru tradition, friendship in China remained both under-theorized as a social relation and little discussed throughout the medieval era. This is true even when we distinguish writings on friendship in the abstract—the kind of general discussion found in Confucian prescriptive texts, which was less common after the Han—from specific writings about particular dyadic relationships or, less commonly, small social circles—friendship performed in texts—which constitute the bulk of the extant medieval writing on friendship. Friendship’s lesser importance is acutely clear in comparison to the growing prominence of the discourse of filiality in medieval China, which became ubiquitous in texts and material culture, and even in

58. Haseldine, Friendship in Medieval Europe, xvii. 59. For new forms of social association that medieval Buddhism promoted, see Jacques Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History from the Fifth to the Tenth Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 267–71. The relative neglect of friendship in extant bodies of medieval writing extends to legal texts. None of the Codes through the Tang, for example, contain discussion of friendship as a status or consideration in any area of law or punishment. The regulation of conduct in friendship was likely seen as a matter to be covered by the ritual classics and, less formally, etiquette guides.

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comparison to the emerging discourses on other social roles, such as “the recluse” or “the virtuous woman.”60 As another example, extant etiquette manuals (shuyi 書儀) from Dunhuang, which set out models of address in many of the hierarchical social relationships central to the medieval world, hint at the existence of a long medieval tradition of linguistic etiquette in correspondence between friends.61 However, we have few texts that flesh out the expected conventions.62 The great anthologies and bibliographies from the Southern Dynasties seem to attest to a lesser interest in friendship in the abstract, with very few titles of individual works or collections relevant to the subject, or even to “famous friends,” as a discrete subject.63 Even in the imperially commissioned encyclopedia

60. For the appearance of these roles and their associated qualities in medieval texts, see Keith Knapp, Selfless Offspring: Filial Children and Social Order in Medieval China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005), 59–60. For the “recluse” tradition, see Alan Berkowitz, Patterns of Disengagement: The Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). For the “exemplary women” tradition of the Han, see Anne Behnke Kinney, Exemplary Women of Early China: The Lienü zhuan of Liu Xiang (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). 61. Studies of these texts include some analysis of the rhetorical conventions of correspondence between friends; see Wu Liyu 吳麗娛, Tangdai zhiyi 唐代摭遺 (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 2002), 4–30; Zhao Heping 趙和平, “Dunhuang xieben ‘pengyou shuyi’ canzhe zhengli he yanjiu” 敦煌寫本‘朋友書儀’殘者整理和研究, in his Tang Wudai shuyi yanjiu 唐五代書儀研究 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1995); and Zhao Heping, Dunhuang shuyi yanjiu 敦煌書儀研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2011). 62. One valuable guide to elite social mores in the Southern Dynasties, Yan Zhitui’s Family Instructions for the Yan Clan 顏氏家訓, mentions friendship only a few times and very briefly in discussions of other issues, such as in the context of mourning (chap. 6), learning through imitating one’s associates (chap. 7), and seeking feedback on one’s writing (chap. 9). See Family Instructions for the Yen Clan, ed. and trans. Ssu-yü Teng (Leiden: Brill, 1968), 34–35, 46–47, 92. 63. For example, in the bibliography of the Sui shu, we find ten texts listed with titles containing the terms lienu 列女, dozens of texts devoted to filiality and religious figures, and only three titles of works whose contents may have been dedicated to friendship (though the first clearly included filial exemplars and may have been restricted to them): a Xiaoyou zhuan 孝友傳 in 8 juan; Huai jiu zhuan 懷舊傳 in 9 juan, attributed to Emperor Yuan of the Liang (the Jiu Tang shu bibliography attributes Xiaoyou zhuan to this emperor also); and Zhiji zhuan 知己傳 in 1 juan, attributed to Lu Sidao 盧思道. Another example can be drawn from the fu section of the Wen xuan: of the fifty-seven fu in the anthology, only three pertain to friendship in any way: Xiang Xiu’s “Si jiu fu” 思 舊賦, Lu Ji’s “Tan shi fu” 嘆逝賦, and Pan Yue’s “Huai jiu fu” 懷舊賦, composed for his

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and literary guide from the early Tang that collected much earlier material, the Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚, the treatment of friendship is brief, found in two subcategories of the “Human” section (ren bu 人部): “Making Friends” (jiaoyou 交友) and “Severing Friendships” (jue jiao 絕交).64 This approach to friendship as a minor and complementary alternative to other forms of sociability also seems to hold true even in the competitive environment of Southern Dynasties court culture, where “friendship” took on new meanings in the court setting, as I note below.65 The marginal role of friendship in pre-Tang Chinese texts compared to either friendship in the European tradition or to the importance of other social relations in China, I suggest, first derives from structural and ideological features of medieval Chinese culture. From the perspective of the imperial political order that developed in the Qin and Han and survived, though much altered, through the Southern Dynasties and into the Tang, the fact that friendship was defined principally as a relationship among peers formed by choice suggests that it was often perceived as a potential threat to the central state and, to a lesser extent, to the integrity of the kinship group.66 But the ambiguous valence of friendship as a form of sociability stemmed from more than its perceived father-in-law and brothers-in-law. These are listed under the thematic category “Grief and Distress” (aishang 哀傷). See a brief discussion of these in David R. Knechtges, “Culling the Weeds and Selecting Prime Blossoms,” in Culture and Power in the Reconstitution of the Chinese Realm, 200–600, ed. Scott Pearce, Audrey Spiro, and Patricia Ebrey (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), 222. 64. Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢, ed. and comp., Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1982), 1: 392–99. These are preceded by the “Fraternal Feeling” (you ti 友悌) subcategory, which concerns fraternal behavior. The “severing friendships” section is roughly a third longer than the “making friends” section. It is useful to compare the Yiwen leiju to the Taiping yulan of the early Northern Song, which devotes five juan to friendship and creates a few new subcategories, such as the opening section, “Instructions on Friendship” (xu jiaoyou 敘交友), devoted to passages from the Classics and the pre-Qin “masters.” The Taiping yulan was of course three times longer than the Yiwen leiju, but the range and detail found in the Song encyclopedia’s citations suggests the new prominence of friendship as a literary topic. 65. See Qian, Spirit and Self in Medieval China, 20–42; Mark Lewis, China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 28–53. 66. Timothy Billings, in his introduction to the translation of Matteo Ricci’s essay on friendship, argues that “there has been an emerging consensus among historians that friendship has always been considered dangerous either to one’s self or to the Confucian order represented by the other four relationships” (Billings, On Friendship, 42–43).

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political dangers of factionalism and preference. Both conceptually and physically, friendship seems to have had no fixed place in medieval China—no sanctioned space within the domain of the household, or the imperial court, or any religious site, to note just a few spaces that structured medieval communities.67 When represented as a connection between men based on shared interests rather than blood or rank (women’s friendship is rare in medieval texts), on the one hand friendship was located in the external world to which one “went out” (chu 出) from the household, and was therefore able to be observed and evaluated by others.68 Yet on the other hand it was frequently portrayed as a private relationship in which individuals exchanged knowledge and affection intimately through the medium of texts that could then be shared with others. The meaning of the you 友 role thus resonated in both the public and private spheres; one’s conduct in friendship revealed one’s understanding and performance of both official (gong 公) and personal (si 私) identities.69 Because the conduct of friendship signified in multiple 67. The role of the urban entertainment quarters in the evolution of ninth-century literati identity has been examined by Paul Rouzer in Articulated Ladies: Gender and the Male Community in Early Chinese Texts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001), esp. 256–58; for the relationship between social identity, power, and space in early cities, see Mark Lewis, The Construction of Space in Early China (Albany: SUNY Press, 2006), 135–88. See also S.A.M. Adshead’s discussion of the expansion of non-kinship-based associations over the course of the dynasty, T’ang China: The Rise of the East in World History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 118–21. 68. A passage from the Han text Shuo yuan (Garden of sayings), “Establishing the Basics” 建本, attempts to assign a clear and non-threatening public, “outer” space for friendship. It explains that the “virtuous teaching of the sages that the Ru have received and transmitted” dictates that “when entering [the home], one knows how to be close to one’s family members, and when going out [into the world], knows how to respect one’s lord; within, there is the distinction between men and women; outside, there are the relations with friends. This was the virtuous teaching of the Sages that the Ru have received and will pass down in order to instruct later generations” 入知親其親, 出知尊 其君, 內有男女之別, 外有朋友之際, 此聖人之德教, 儒者受之傳之, 以教誨於後世. Shuo yuan shuzheng 說苑疏證, comp. Liu Xiang 劉向 (Han), annot. Zhao Shanyi 趙善 詒 (Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe, 1985), 69. 69. The Legalist attacks on non-kin associations—specifically, on pengdang 朋黨—attempted to make the lines between si 私 and gong 公 obligations extremely clear. The Han Feizi, for example, consistently relegates pengdang relationships to the realm of si and li 利, profit, as evils to be overcome by the consistent application of laws and regulations, and rarely speaks of social connections using the terms you or pengyou, terms with specific

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realms, even depictions of intimate friendship could have implications well beyond a dyad or circle. In moments of greater social and political instability, writing about social affiliations of all kinds, no matter how carefully writers sought to depict them as private, might have exposed literati to grave political danger.70 Moreover, the fact that the language of personal friendship could be appropriated—and sometimes exposed as false—in the political sphere, where alliances were made and broken, added to the instability and potential risk of the discourse. Despite the significant differences in the cultural prominence of friendship in medieval Europe and China, when we examine the evidence for friendship as a social practice, we can discern some similarities in historical development. In particular, the growing complexity of social associations and increasing access to political power for a greater variety of men appear to have fostered the social and political value of friendships in both regions. Recent scholarship on European friendship practices sheds light on changes that occurred during times of rising mobility, demographic upheavals, and political reorganization that were characteristic of the late medieval and early modern era.71 With respect to emerging patterns of friendship in fifteenth-century Europe, for example, historians have argued that “with the gradual disappearance of liege homage and of the hierarchical structures and mentalities of classic feudalism, there occurred a freeing up of personal and social ties that gave ‘friendship,’ variously defined, space to manoeuvre and grow.” 72 We might identify similar patterns in social organization during the transition from the Southern Dynasties to the Tang; historians have seen in the Tang a significant expansion of the types of social association people of all classes practiced, specifically those entered into voluntarily and

meaning in Ru texts. See, for example, discussions in chaps. 11 and 19 of Han Feizi jijie 韓 非子集解, ed. Wang Xianshen 王先慎 (Qing), annot. Zhong Zhe 鍾哲 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1998), 78–85, and 121–24. 70. As Alan Bray said of male friendships in early modern England, “friendship was dangerous because it signified in the public sphere.” Bray, The Friend, 59. 71. See, for example, Gerd Althoff, Family, Friends and Followers: Political and Social Bonds in Early Medieval Europe, trans. Christopher Carroll (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 72. Carolyn James and Bill Kent, “Renaissance Friendships,” in Friendship: A History, ed. Barbara Caine, 129.

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including friendship.73 In the European case, the social and political patterns of a medieval world in which both the practice and the discourse of friendship were defined as essential to social order gave way to the new political states, urban centers, and social networks of the early modern period. During the transition to early modernity in Renaissance Europe, certain writers “attempted to reconcile the concepts of private friendship and political association, and they often insisted, as had the ancients, that harmonious relations among individual citizens are the foundation for a harmonious state.”74 Friendship thereby became a central element of early modern conceptions of political organization and, later, of private life.75 Similarly, the second half of the Tang dynasty was also a period of social change that fostered the growth of new networks and new environments for social association, thereby creating a larger space for friendship and, ultimately, new arguments for its importance. Mid-Tang literati not only hoped to endow friendship with greater influence in political and social spheres (thus expanding its practical impact beyond the private realm), but also to claim a discursive place for friendship in their writing that was independent of the public, official realm. This development in friendship should be seen as an essential component of the Tang-Song transition, part of the centuries-long transformation of the shi 士 from Tang aristocratic elites whose power and prestige was centered on the imperial court into Northern Song civil bureaucrats with social and intellectual networks that flourished beyond the political center. The appearance of friendship as a key social role in the Analects, one that was further amplified in the Mengzi and the Xunzi—works produced in the political strife of the end of the Eastern Zhou—suggests a link between friendship practices and the political history of early and medieval China, including in the second half of the Tang dynasty.

73. Adshead argues that this widening of “associative reference” in Tang society was in part compensatory, replacing some familial ties with “alternative social institutions” such as guilds, religious communities, and other associations centered on activities that flourished beyond the household and in the growing urban centers. Adshead, T’ang China, 103–8. 74. Hyatte, The Arts of Friendship, 2. 75. See Chartier, “Community, State, and Family: Trajectories and Tensions,” in The History of Private Life, vol. 3, 399–401; and Maurice Aymard, “Friends and Neighbors,” in ibid., 447–91.

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Friendship often assumed greater prominence as a form of social interaction in eras when the dominant political structures were under stress or undergoing significant change. This pattern is perceptible but subtle: although we can identify moments where friendship appears more consistently in a range of medieval texts, we do not find abrupt changes in definitions of friendship or in the relative status of friendship vis-à-vis other social relations in medieval records. Instead, especially in texts from the most chaotic times of social disruption and reorganization and in the immediate wake of the upheavals, such as the late Eastern Han and early Wei eras, the changes seem incremental: we find more writing about horizontal social relations as a complementary source of elite identity, rather than as a tie that might displace the ruler-subject or father-son bond, at least in the extant texts. Without attempting a diachronic survey, here I simply note a few moments in medieval history where this kind of social and political transformation affected writing about friendship. The violent chaos that ended the Eastern Han in the late second century fueled an intense concern about the positive and negative versions of social association, in kinship, friendship, and political factionalism, and we find that concern expressed in diverse ways throughout the historical record. The late Eastern Han saw the rise of new forms of patron-client relations whose history is found on steles and in texts. Although these networks were created in the context of hierarchical affiliations and the documents tend to highlight those hierarchies, it seems likely that membership in the networks prompted new forms of sociability and language for describing them among the large client groups.76 In one example, Miranda Brown has examined the ways in which Eastern Han composers of inscriptions attempted to shift the “hierarchical and paternalistic rhetoric” that dominated these texts to acknowledge and commemorate horizontal ties between friends and colleagues.77 The late Eastern Han, Three Kingdoms, and Western Jin periods were evidently moments in which social association—both in the overtly political 76. Patricia Ebrey, “The Economic and Social History of the Later Han,” in Denis Twitchett and John K. Fairbank, eds., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 1: The Ch’ in and Han Empires, 221 B.C.–A.D. 220 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 640–43. 77. Miranda Brown, The Politics of Mourning in Early China (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 86, 102.

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version of factionalism and more personal bonds between courtiers— became more urgent and presented a new danger to the political order. On the one hand, historical texts from the period are filled with examples of men swearing bonds of fidelity to one another—though those are often depicted in the language of filial or fraternal obligation, thus as ritual kinship rather than friendship—and on the other, the internecine conflicts of the period tested such bonds at every turn. As Thomas Jansen has argued about the appearance of texts on “severing relations” (juejiao 絕交) in the third and fourth centuries, the instability of society and politics, along with the systematization of other human relationships such as the filial relation, likely heightened anxiety about representing friendship in ways that would not impinge upon other social and political obligations.78 The letter from the third-century literatus Xi Kang 嵇康 (223–62) that severed his friendship with Shan Tao 山 濤 (205–83) exemplifies this era’s dangerous intersection of personal association, knowledge, and political partisanship. In his letter, Xi Kang disavows Shan Tao’s offer to recommend him to office because, as he argued, such a gesture demonstrates Shan’s complete lack of understanding of him.79 These and other texts from the late third and early fourth centuries suggest that it was both necessary and perilous to negotiate one’s affiliations publicly in this era of internecine violence, and show that texts celebrating or even severing friendship were one means for elite men to do so. Although social upheaval and the dissolution of states clearly influenced the prominence of friendship in medieval writing, other less violent developments of the medieval period, such as the flourishing of new forms of court culture in the Southern Dynasties, appeared to give a new cachet to homosocial bonding, including to versions of friendship that produced both social and cultural capital. For example, the court-centered social occasions that prompted much literary composition in the 78. Thomas Jansen, “The Art of Severing Relationships (juejiao) in Early Medieval China,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 126.3 (2006), 350. 79. “Letter to Shan Juyuan Severing Connections” 與山巨源絕交書, in Wen xuan 43.1923–30. As Jansen suggests, Xi Kang may have also used this very public gesture of breaking friendship to ensure Shan Tao’s own safety; whether or not this was the case, it is significant that Xi Kang defends his actions on the grounds of his personal interests, particularly his religious and intellectual commitments, rather than referring to any canonical ideals of friendship.

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Southern Dynasties encouraged literati to celebrate social gathering and the elite community in their texts, even as these texts tended to conceal the mechanisms by which the community functioned and was controlled. 80 The vogue in Southern Dynasties culture for creating groups based on talent or interests—whether posthumously or in imitation of older circles—sheds light on the ways in which Southern Dynasties elites could use social affiliation to legitimate certain kinds of literary or cultural activity shared by men of different rank, lineage, or status.81 We might call this an era of the aestheticization of friendship. Examples of such groups that were constructed retrospectively on the basis of shared literary or artistic tastes include the “Seven Talents of the Jian’an” 建安七 子, the “Seven worthies of the Bamboo Grove” 竹林七賢, the “TwentyFour Friends of Jia Mi” 賈謐二十四友, and the “Eight Friends of the [Prince of] Jingling” 竟陵八友.82 Portraits of friendship in Southern Dy80. See Richard Mather’s study of literary friendship in the dangerous political dynamics of the Southern Qi, “Hsieh T’iao’s ‘Poetic Essay Requiting a Kindness’ (Ch’ou te fu),” Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.4 (Oct–Dec 1990): 603–15; and Cynthia Chennault, “Odes on Objects and Patronage during the Southern Qi,” in Studies in Early Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History: In Honor of Richard B. Mather and Donald Holzman, ed. Paul W. Kroll and David R. Knechtges (T’ang Studies Society, 2003), 359–63. 81. On this pattern in Southern Dynasties literary history, see Cheng Zhangcan 程 章燦, Shi zu yu liuchao wenxue 氏族與六朝文學 (Harbin: Heilongjiang jiaoyu chubanshe, 1998), 3–47; see also the reexamination of Liang literary circles in Xiaofei Tian, Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007), 111–61. The emergence of erotic verse in the Southern Dynasties courtly context could also be considered in relationship to the publicity of homosocial ties in the period. It seems reasonable to suggest that the new interest of male poets in composing heterosexual erotic verse points to changing conceptions of masculinity, including perhaps the question of masculine identity in male homosocial bonds. 82. All three of these groups were formed, if not after the deaths of all their members, after the time of their flourishing. For Jia Mi’s group, see David R. Knechtges, “Sweetpeel Orange or Southern Gold? Regional Identity in Western Jin Literature,” in Studies in Early Medieval Chinese Literature and Cultural History: In Honor of Richard B. Mather and Donald Holzman, ed. Kroll and Knechtges (T’ang Studies Society, 2003) 32–33, and nn. 14–16. For the Bamboo Grove group, see Holzman, Poetry and Politics, 81–82; and Audrey Spiro, Contemplating the Ancients: Aesthetic and Social Issues in Early Chinese Portraiture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 91–122. As Spiro notes (101–2), the role of friendship or companionship in the famous tomb fresco of the Seven Worthies seems far less important than the depiction of their unique qualities. For the

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nasties texts tended to be either courtly depictions of social gathering, in which the identities and ranks of individuals were foregrounded (in titles and modes of address, for example) but the specifics of relationships among individual members minimized; or a more intimate, often dyadic, version of companionship whose political implications were at least not immediately visible.83 The many Southern Dynasties collections of writing—whether anthologies that included earlier poets or contemporary collections—implicitly created affiliations among poets, giving this social trend a prominent textual dimension.84 Beyond the flourishing culture of the imperial courts, the emergence of “new social spaces and groups acting in those spaces” such as religious communities and private estates also influenced social associations across both northern and southern China.85 Here men could distinguish themselves from others and make highly visible ties with others, as in the many models of aesthetic and religious reclusion that circulated in the Southern Dynasties.86

group of literati affiliated with Xiao Ziliang, see Chennault, “Odes on Objects,” 392–94; and Thomas Jansen, Höfische Öffentlichkeit im frühmitterlaterlichen China: Debatten im Salon des Prinzen Xiao Ziliang (Freiburg: Rombach, 2000), 69–72. 83. On group formation in the Liang, see Xiaofei Tian’s argument regarding the anachronistic construction of three competing “schools” (pai 派) by modern scholars. Tian argues that a cultural and literary consensus largely prevailed among Liang elites, and that divisions among groups were far less critical than later views of the period imply (Tian, Beacon Fire and Shooting Star, 125–44). Here, I simply suggest that the language of group-formation, particularly that of groups of “friends” or men identified as sharing similar identities (such as “masters” 子 or “worthies” 賢), became more prominent in elite culture from the Eastern Jin through the end of the Southern Dynasties. 84. Southern Dynasties literati fascination for the Jian’an and early Wei court extended to their view of the period as the high point of ideal friendship, as we see also in nostalgic imitations of Cao-Wei verse that recall the friendship relations between members of that earlier court. For example, see Xie Lingyun’s series of imitations of the Cao-Wei “masters,” collected in the Wen xuan, which is prefaced by a nostalgic lament for the perfect camaraderie of that era. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi, 2:1181–84. 85. Lewis, China Between Empires, 44–51. On the importance of Xiao Ziliang’s Western Villa at Jilong Mountain as a distinctly new space for literary and religious social gatherings, see Jansen, Höfische Öffentlichkeit im frühmitterlaterlichen China, 81–86. 86. This visibility of new actors in new social spheres can be found in many texts composed outside the court context. For example, Robert Campany has examined the ways that narratives about xian 仙 (seekers of transcendence) in early medieval culture informed and reinforced the status of xian in medieval society as practitioners and mediators of esoteric knowledge. See his “Narrative in the Self-Presentation of

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As these brief examples suggest, the discourse of friendship in medieval China depended on the emergence of new political contexts and diverse social spaces that encouraged the practice of elite male friendship as well as on cultural incentives for exploring non-kin relations in literature. When the Sui and then Tang rulers reunified the Chinese empire and established a new imperial bureaucracy, to a great extent they reinforced the early medieval distribution of power, status, and wealth among the elite clans in the early decades of the dynasty. And yet the early Tang effectively created a new sociopolitical order that contained the elements of its own transformation within it.87 Despite the role of the imperial and princely courts as cultural and social centers for a wide range of would-be officials, the first half of the Tang dynasty largely perpetuated medieval social patterns of patronage and the aristocratic dominance of court culture. But the nascent social and spatial changes that would nourish mid-Tang writing on friendship—such as the rising cultural prestige of the jinshi examination, the development of areas in major cities where literati could meet outside the court, and the appearance of vibrant provincial centers—accelerated in the decades after the An Lushan Rebellion. The role of friendship in the literary culture of the early and High Tang awaits further study, and our ability to understand it will be greatly shaped by the kinds of extant texts that survive from the pre-Rebellion period, which are largely poetic and prose works, including court-centered historiography. In our explorations of mid-Tang friendship, however, we find that literati deliberately adopted elements of an old but fragmentary discourse for their own social and political contexts, forging new uses and meanings out of a very old phenomenon.

Transcendence-Seekers,” in Alan K. L. Chan and Yuet-Keung Lo, eds., Interpretation and Literature in Early Medieval China (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010), 133–64. 87. David Johnson, The Medieval Chinese Oligarchy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1977); Denis Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3: Sui and T’ang China, 589–906, Part I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 20–31; Peter K. Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours’: Intellectual Transitions in T’ang and Sung China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 32–48.

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Social and Cultural Contexts In 755, An Lushan, the military commissioner of Youzhou in the far northeast corner of Tang China, rebelled and led his armies to capture the two imperial capitals in the face of a divided and inept central court. The uprising ended the long and glorious reign of emperor Xuanzong. Although the new emperor Suzong, after deposing his elderly father, managed to suppress the rebellion, the failure of Tang institutions in confronting An Lushan had profound economic, political, social, and cultural repercussions that unfolded during the mid-Tang period. The failure of mid- and late Tang emperors to maintain control over rebellious regions brought instability and fragmentation to the empire, with serious financial and military consequences as well as rancorous political debates over correct policy. At the same time, this decentralization also led to the emergence of regional cultures and provincial centers of literary activity. Competition for bureaucratic office in the post-Rebellion era increased, as men from both the most prestigious clans and those of lesser lineages sought to pass examinations and secure posts, though there was little or no growth in the number of offices within the nine ranks of the regular bureaucracy. These post-Rebellion shifts clearly affected the practices of elite male friendship: from a sociopolitical perspective, men from less prominent lineages seeking office had to supplement their networks in every way possible, including creating friendship networks. In transforming elite culture, the decentralization of literary activity and spread of officials beyond the imperial court and into the provinces fostered the growth of literati circles and connections that thrived outside the capital.88 These incentives for creating friendship ties can also be viewed in the broader perspective of the “Tang-Song transition,” the tectonic shift in the social composition and intellectual orientation of the Chinese elite that occurred from the mid-Tang to the Southern Song, 88. Although the reign of Xianzong saw an important period of political recentralization and relative domestic stability, the centripetal tendencies of literary culture only accelerated in the ninth century. For the impact on literary writing in the post-Rebellion period, see McMullen, State and Scholars, 234–49.

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when the “aristocrats” of the Tang gave way to the “scholar-officials” of the Song.89 In his recent study of the medieval Chinese aristocracy in the ninth century, Nicolas Tackett examines the debate over dating this social shift. He challenges earlier scholarship that sought to locate its origins in the eighth or early ninth century, noting that we have little evidence from that period to indicate “that a cohesive new class of women and men had begun to threaten the old social order.”90 Using data drawn from an extensive body of ninth-century epitaphs, Tackett argues that in the ninth century, elites at all levels focused on office-holding to shore up the prestige of their lineages and that they continued to dominate both capital and provincial offices through the end of the dynasty. This stress on attaining office did not diminish the value of pedigree—as the texts examined below and in chapter 2 illustrate, literati from different backgrounds often revealed anxiety about their own and others’ pedigrees—but instead heightened the urgency for elites to sustain their family reputations and their own careers through office-holding over generations, creating what Tackett calls a “bureaucratized aristocracy.”91

89. An extensive body of scholarship on the Tang-Song transition has appeared in the past century since the initial thesis of Naitō Konan in the 1920s. On the topic of social change in the ninth and tenth centuries, see, among other titles, Mao Hanguang 毛 漢光, “Tangdai tongzhi jieceng shehui biandong: cong guanli jiating beijing kan shehui liudong” 唐代統治階層社會變動:從官吏家庭背景看社會流動 (Ph.D. thesis, Guoli zhengzhi daxue zhengzhi yanjiusuo, 1968); Patricia Ebrey, The Aristocratic Families of Early Imperial China: A Case Study of the Po-ling Ts’ui Family (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Johnson, The Medieval Chinese Oligarchy, and “The Last Years of a Great Clan: The Li Family of Chao Chun in the Late T’ang and Early Sung,” HJAS 37:1 (1977), 5–102; Robert P. Hymes, Statesmen and Gentlemen: The Elite of Fu-Chou, Chiang-Hsu in Northern and Southern Sung (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1–11; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 36–48; Nicolas Tackett, “The Transformation of Medieval Chinese Elites (850–1100)” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2008); Tackett, “Great Clansmen, Bureaucrats, and Local Magnates,” Asia Major 3rd ser. 21.2 (2008): 101–52; and Tackett, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Asia Center Publications, 2014). 90. Tackett, Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, 9. Tackett argues that the grip of the Tang great clans on the highest offices of imperial government was not fully loosened until the physical extinction of the clans during the Huangchao Rebellion and subsequent fall of the dynasty (187–234). 91. Ibid., 61–69.

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We can also see the cultivation of friendship circles in the context of these developments as a coherent response to the increasingly competitive social and political environment. Rather than being the result of a conscious effort by “new men” to rise in Tang government, the mid-Tang interest in friendship was just one part of elite men’s efforts to mobilize as many resources as they could. To a degree we do not find in earlier texts, the writers in this study, in part because of their less-prestigious family backgrounds and regional origins, seem to have viewed friendship ties as a useful way to supplement other available forms of network-building, such as patronage and marriage. In contrast to those long-established strategies, however, friendship exerted a uniquely creative power in the literary culture of the mid-Tang. In the late eighth and early ninth centuries the doors were open, if only slightly, for qualified candidates of lesser lineages to compete for places in the examinations, to seek patrons in the capital and provinces, and to win posts.92 Although the highest bureaucratic offices at the capital, including the grand councilor posts, were dominated by men of great clan background through the ninth century,93 there were occasionally mid-Tang men who achieved high rank (r. 3 and above) who, though not of great clan status, came from lineages with some history of official service.94 Two well-known examples of such men who appear in this study are Quan Deyu 權德輿 (759–818) and Yuan Zhen. Their individual success and their ability to form powerful bonds with officials who were of higher-status lineages surely encouraged other men of similar ancestry to

92. The historian Chen Yinke’s early argument that these non-aristocratic men were aligned with specific factions in the second half of the ninth century has been largely disproven by Tonami Mamoru; see the discussion of evidence in Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 639–54. 93. See Sun Guotong 孫國棟, “Tang Song zhi ji shehui mendi zhi xiaorong—Tang Song zhi ji shehui zhuanbian yanjiu zhi yi” 唐宋之際社會門第之笑容—唐宋之際社 會轉變研究之一, Xinya xuebao 新亞學報 4.1 (1959): 211–304; Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsungyüan, 9–12; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 34–38. Tackett’s research also confirms this. 94. These men fall within the boundaries of the “aristocracy” as defined by Tackett (11–12). However, I suggest that men from less prestigious lineages, despite their office-holding forebears, would also have been acutely aware of and anxious about fine distinctions—such as those in family background, social etiquette, and financial resources.

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imitate their strategies.95 Jo-shui Chen has noted that the inroads made by such men into the upper ranks of the bureaucracy were not consistent over time or examination cohort; though they “came from any part of society other than the ‘old clans,’ they did not constitute a discrete class or social group.”96 Their goal was not to wrest away the power of the highest-status elites or even to contest their values but rather to achieve more power and prestige for themselves. (This is in contrast to another group with clear ambitions to power, the eunuchs, who developed an alternate set of social and political strategies, including adoption and monopoly of certain offices, to advance their interests.)97 The rising prestige of the examination system gave men of lesser backgrounds and resources nominal access to political power. Yet in the absence of institutional reforms in the second half of the dynasty that would have created more avenues into Tang government—such as an expansion of the regular bureaucracy—competition for exams and offices only became more fierce over the course of the dynasty. But beyond the question of political impact, which is difficult to assess with the extant evidence, the examinations played an enormous role in midand late Tang culture: they provided a prominent stage for literati of diverse origins to win fame in front of their superiors, and they offered specific mechanisms for converting the cultural capital of literary talent into social capital and political office. They also created an ideal environment in which to form friendship networks.

Mid-Tang Examination Culture For young scholars, the political and social climate of the late eighth and early ninth centuries generated new incentives for seeking posts in Tang government, whether in the capital or outside it. These changes in turn affected what we might call the sociological profile of Tang literati. 95. For Quan as an important example of a high-ranking official from a non–great clan lineage, see DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 40–41. Though these two both rose to the rank of grand councilor, it may be noteworthy that neither of them lasted long in the position, each serving less than a year. 96. Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 12. 97. On the rise of eunuch power between the 770s and 820s, see Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 512–14, 598–606, 633–35.

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In considering the dimensions of the elite male community during this period, it is useful to distinguish among different stages of literati careers and consider the specific opportunities for social interaction and network building that each stage provided. To begin with, the Tang examinations played an increasingly visible role in the formation of literati identity and social relations. In recent decades, scholars such as Fu Xuancong, Wu Zongguo, Chen Fei, Seo Tatsuhiko, and Oliver Moore have demonstrated the examination system’s influence on a wide array of Tang historical phenomena, from the new poetic topics that emerged out of examination culture to the examinations as a counterbalancing political force to eunuch power.98 These studies have consistently shown that the examinations rose in value in the second half of the dynasty as a means of establishing one’s reputation and future in the capital, even for men from the great clans. Men who had in their recent ancestry officials of rank 5 or above were able to use the hereditary “protection” privilege (yin 蔭) to bypass examinations and advance to the selection process for official posts; but evidence from the ninth century suggests that even men eligible to use the hereditary privilege increasingly chose to sit for examinations instead.99 This is quite significant for our purposes, because it tells us that despite being in direct competition with one another—and surely bringing different advantages to the field—men from a wide range of backgrounds came to see the examinations as a prestigious pathway. The chances of passing the most competitive examination, the jinshi,

98. Fu Xuancong, Tangdai keju yu wenxue; Wu Zongguo, Tangdai keju zhidu yanjiu; Chen Fei, Tangdai shice kao shu and other works; Shang Yongliang 尚永亮, Keju zhi lu yu huanhai fuchen 科舉之路與宦海浮沉 (Taibei: Wenjin, 2000); Seo Tatsuhiko 妹 尾達彦, “Shi no kotoba, text no kenryoku—kyūseiki Chūgoku ni okeru kakyo bungaku no seiritsu” 詩のことば、テクストの権力—九世紀中国における科挙鵜文学の成 立,” Chugoku: Shakai to bunka 中國: 社會と文化 16 (2001): 25–55; Oliver Moore, Rituals of Recruitment: Reading an Annual Programme in the Collected Statements by Wang Dingbao (870–940) (Leiden: Brill, 2004). 99. Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 18–19, summarizes the work of Wu Zongguo, who analyzed the number of grand councilors in the post-Rebellion reigns who had passed the jinshi and/or another examination. From the time of Xianzong (seventeen of whose twenty-nine grand councilors had passed the jinshi), the percentage of degree-holding grand councilors increased through the reigns of the ninth century. Moore notes that by the late Tang, gaining a degree had become “the only respectable entry into the bureaucracy,” even for those who might have used the yin privilege (Rituals of Recruitment, 20).

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though difficult to estimate for specific years or reigns, were very slim: over the course of the dynasty, it has been estimated that the pass rate for the jinshi ranged between two and four percent of all test-takers, and that for the mingjing ranged between five and ten percent.100 However, because the competition for the limited number of posts was extreme even after one passed the jinshi 進士 and underwent the selection process (xuan 選), further examinations—such as the boxue hongci 博學宏詞 (“test of vast learning and great literary skill”), the shupan bacui 書判拔萃 (“selecting the finest [feathers] from among those who wrote judgments”), and the imperially commanded exams (zhiju 制 舉)—became an important route into office.101 All of these examinations were intended to rapidly identify promising candidates. But examination success by no means guaranteed employment “within the stream” (liu nei 流內) in one of the nine ranks of Tang government.102 For men without patrons or powerful relatives, the competition continued up the ladder and, with each rung, required constant demonstration of one’s abilities and the further cultivation of social ties both horizontally, with friends and associates, and vertically, with patrons and other supporters.103

100. Twitchett, The Birth of the Chinese Meritocracy: Bureaucrats and Examinations in T’ang China (London: The China Society, 1976), 12–15. 101. Conversely, passing multiple exams of this sort was the equivalent of being on a fast track for prestigious appointments, or at the very least being in the qingguan, “pure officials,” path. For the historical development of the decree exams and the boxue hongci and shupan bacui, see Wang Xuncheng 王勛成, Tangdai quan xuan yu wenxue 唐代銓 選與文學 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2001), 229–310. 102. Officials with offices ranked in the regular bureaucracy in the nine-rank system, whether in the capital or in the provinces, were said to be “within the stream” of regular appointment. Within the nine-rank system of the Tang bureaucracy, there were two important boundaries: between rank 6 and rank 5 and between rank 4 and rank 3. However, there were many clerical and advisory positions attached to the regular bureaucracy (again both at the capital and in the provinces) that employed literati. These were known as offices “outside the stream” (liu wai 流外), and they were the refuge for thousands of literati who either failed to pass the examinations, never sat for them, or simply were unable to find a post even after passing an examination. 103. Ideally, marriage could also be a vertical strategy, as young men used the cultural capital of examination success or literary fame to marry a woman from a higher -status family than their own, as was the case with both Yuan Zhen, whose first wife was a daughter of grand councilor Wei Xiaqing 韋夏卿, of the capital-region Wei clan, and Bai Juyi, whose wife was of the Hongnong Yang 弘農楊 clan.

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The mid-Tang struggle for examination success and official posts strengthened a number of practices that had long been in place in Tang aristocratic society, practices such as seeking patrons by paying visits to senior officials (gan ye 干謁) and presenting one’s literary works (xing juan 行卷).104 On the surface, these were ruthlessly self-promoting activities that pitted men against one another; but beneath the discourse of patronage compositions lay social activities that reinforced ties with peers. Evidence from candidates’ poems and letters reveals that degree-seekers spent long months with one another preparing for examinations. In Chang’an, they passed the summer and early autumn together composing texts to be included in the “autumn scrolls,” which needed to be ready for circulation in the months before the spring examinations.105 In their letters and other documents to patrons, of which we have many examples from the mid-Tang, literati openly declared their vulnerability in the entire process and used their literary skills to sell themselves to patrons. Candidates claimed their uniqueness amid the crowd of degree-seekers and drew on all their resources to defend their worth. In this context, references to one’s lineage, if it was esteemed, were quite appropriate; conversely, literati from less lofty lineages were hardpressed to find persuasive arguments for being considered.106 As Bai Juyi stated in his 800 letter to an influential senior official, Chen Jing 陳 京, “I am a man of humble status, and at court I have no supporters to assist me; furthermore, from my home region I have no great praise of recommendation. Why then have I come? Because my strength lies only in literary composition (wenzhang), and my hope lies only in the 104. For this practice, see Victor H. Mair, “Scroll Presentation in the T’ang Dynasty,” HJAS 44.1 (1978): 35–60; Cheng Qianfan 程千帆, Tangdai jinshi xingjuan yu wenxue 唐代進士行卷與文學 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1980); Fu, Tangdai keju, 249–80; Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 141–52. 105. Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 87–88, 141–44. See also Dai Weihua, Tangdai wenxue yanjiu conggao 唐代文學研究叢稿 (Taibei: Xuesheng shuju, 1999), 28–32, for a discussion of the types of associations men would form before, during, and after examination season. Along with class background, regional origin also influenced the formation of groups, particularly among provincial tribute candidates. 106. Tackett also notes the variety of cultural advantages that capital-based elites would have held over men from other backgrounds, such as awareness of metropolitan social etiquette, and even more prestigious accents (Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, 133–34).

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impartial judgment of the examiner” 居易鄙人也, 上無朝廷附離之 援, 次無鄉曲吹煦之譽. 然則孰為而來哉? 蓋所仗者文章耳, 所望者主 司至公耳.107 Shi Jianwu 施肩吾, another aspiring unknown, lamented his status as a provincial tribute candidate of undistinguished family background in the years before he passed the jinshi in 815 in a poem of supplication: “Within the ninefold walls of the capital, I have no relatives or acquaintances; / among the crowd of 800 [examination candidates], I alone am named ‘Shi’ ” 九重城裡無親識, 八百人中獨姓施.108 Even Liu Zongyuan, who came from a declining but still prominent northeastern clan and was not shy about advertising his lineage, deployed humble rhetoric about his literary skills (though not about his family) in his plea to one sought-after patron, Quan Deyu.109 Only rarely do we have evidence that these letters and pleas succeeded, and yet the Tang system of advancement demanded them.110 Passing the jinshi examination or another of the capital exams, however, gave the winning candidates instant celebrity. They were paraded before the emperor, ministers, and high-ranking officials, they inscribed their names and poems on the stupa at Ci’en Monastery, and they participated in large public banquets and other informal celebrations.111 This was not merely an individual transformation: the passing candidate also became part of an illustrious cohort of degree-holders. Presenting oneself as a degree-holder was a claim to prestige and talent that had been verified by the power brokers of the state, and it also invoked a new, collective 107. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2776–78. See also Fu’s analysis of this letter in Tangdai keju, 264–67. 108. That is, not only does he not have any clansmen to help him make his way in Chang’an, but his background was so obscure that there is no one with even the same surname. “Presented to the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Rites Chen Qing” 上禮部 侍郎陳情, QTS 494.5586–87; also cited in Fu, Tangdai keju, 258. 109. Liu Zongyuan ji, 909–11. See also Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 42–43. 110. See Shang Yongliang 尚永亮, Tang Wudai zhuchen yu bianzhe wenxue yanjiu 唐五代逐臣貶謫文學研究 (Wuhan: Wuhan daxue chubanshe, 2007), 275–77, for a discussion of the rhetorical approaches of these texts in the mid-Tang. Shang argues that mid-Tang patron-seeking letters show considerably more sophistication than eighth-century examples of the genre and that, while displaying literary flourishes and the requisite self-deprecation, they also address the issue of official service more frequently and directly. 111. For the ceremonies and banquets associated with examination culture, see Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 181–280.

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identity that was shared with a select group of individuals whose names, family backgrounds, and representative writings had circulated in the capital. Examination success could not erase a modest background, but it seems to have softened it with the glow of celebrity, thereby opening the way to making other influential connections. Conversely, there were few other career paths available for men without family resources, and failure to pass, even in successive tries, could mean the loss of even minimal networks and few remunerative employment prospects. In his 815 series “Songs from Qin” (“Qin zhong yin” 秦中吟), poems critiquing social and political ills of his day, Bai Juyi included a poem that conveys the strain that this competition placed on literati friends. Entitled “Grieving for a Friend” (“Shang you” 傷友), it appears to depict an actual encounter, but it also stands as an allegory of the social mobility promised by the bureaucracy and the high price paid by those who could not succeed in it.112 It runs in part: 陋巷孤寒士 出門苦恓恓 雖云志氣在 豈免顏色低 平生同門友 通籍在金閨 曩者膠漆契 邇來雲雨睽 昔年洛陽社 貧賤相提攜 今日長安道 對面隔雲泥

A lowly, lone scholar from a mean abode when out in the world, is bitterly harried. Though it is said he still retains his resolve and spirit, how can he not be brought low in face and manner? A lifelong friend from the same gates presented his documents at the golden palaces. Of old, we had a bond of glue and lacquer, but in recent times, we were sundered like clouds and rain. . . . In years past, in Luoyang, poor and humble, we supported one another. Today on the Chang’an road, facing each other, we were divided like clouds and mud.

Unfortunately, even the first stage of examination success did not guarantee immediate office, or even future office through the xuan 選 selection process, a fact that was deeply frustrating to those who had managed finally to pass an examination. When Han Yu wrote his daring

112. Bai also noted an alternate title for the piece, “Grieving for an Embittered Man of Integrity” (“Shang ku jie shi” 傷苦節士). Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:87.

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letters to ministers in 795, after failing to pass the boxue hongci exam (a higher level of exam that virtually guaranteed office for successful candidates) three times in a row (in 793, 794, and 795), he disingenuously defended himself as a writer whose only achievement to date was “reading books and writing compositions” 讀書著文 but whose works drew on the “books of the Sages” 聖人之書. More pointedly, he noted that “of the four times I presented myself to the Ministry of Rites, I obtained [a degree] once; of the three times I presented myself to the Ministry of Personnel, not one [attempt] was successful” 四舉於禮部乃一得, 三選 於吏部卒無成.113 His merit, he implies, had been adequately demonstrated in the appropriate context, the Ministry of Rites, in front of the distinguished Chief Examiner, Lu Zhi 陸贄 (754–805),114 so why then could he not gain a post? Han’s letters—which seem to have been unrequited, leading him to abandon the capital shortly thereafter—represent an extreme example of the strategies literati had to employ beyond the preliminary though prestigious stage of the jinshi or other examination. As we will see in chapter 2, an alternate method for Han Yu, Bai Juyi, and others was to garner recommendations from peers to create publicity for their own work and that of their friends.

A Decentralized Mid-Tang Literati Culture From the perspective of social mobility, the Tang examinations were a weaker force than they would become in later dynasties for two simple reasons. First, the great clans continued to monopolize the highest ranks of the Tang government through the end of the dynasty, thereby ensuring a de facto ceiling for those men of lesser backgrounds. Second, there were no financially viable career paths for elites outside official service, a fact that perpetuated the clans’ control of offices and examination success.115 113. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1238–39. 114. See Charles Hartman, Han Yü and the T’ang Search for Unity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 28–29, for a discussion of the Tang hui yao 唐會要 passage that describes the 792 jinshi examination and Lu Zhi’s associates, Liang Su and Cui Yuanhan. Han Yu’s claim to having been recognized thus extended socially far beyond the Chief Examiner or the Ministry, and included the many senior officials connected to Lu Zhi. 115. On the Tang examinations as attaining a cultural significance far greater than their social or political force, see Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 18–20. See also Tackett,

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From the perspective of cultural geography, however, from the late eighth century into the ninth century, the examinations were a dynamic force that worked in concert with other political avenues to draw literati to the capital and, through the system of appointment, circulate them around the Tang empire.116 The examinations also fostered the development of a literati community whose bonds could survive outside the capital, a community that was bound up with texts, supported by gifts and reciprocal favors, and celebrated with both ritual and informal observances. If an aspiring official were able to land a solid entry-level position such as editor in the Imperial Library (jiaoshulang 校書郎, r. 9a1), a prestigious path for jinshi degree-holders with literary talent, he would find himself in the company of other men of similar talents with whom he could connect and extend his own social circle.117 The socializing that men 132–36, for a discussion of the influence that relatives could exert on examination success and appointment to office. With respect to the economic influence of examinations as an avenue into imperial government posts, the Tang fiscal system was structured to favor official service as a means of attaining and sustaining family wealth, given that tax disincentives (in theory) discouraged the accumulation of large estates and that official salaries, paid in both cash and goods, were the significant sources of wealth for Tang elites. For non-aristocratic degree-seekers, therefore, there was every reason to pursue exam success despite the odds. The decades of the late eighth and the early ninth centuries were a deflationary era, and this also made the value of official salaries even higher, particularly for officials who served in liuwai provincial offices. (Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 517–26.) Though a given to scholars of Chinese history, salaries, not land-holdings, were the most important source of wealth for Tang elites; this is an important consideration when identifying incentives for new social associations among elites, in part because it stands in such contrast to patterns in European social history. For a discussion of the disincentives for aristocrats to hold large estates in the Tang, see Tackett, Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, 57–61. The emergence of alternate paths to power and money for medieval European elites—a career in the clergy, for example—also spurred the growth of alternate social communities and forms of association in which friendship flourished as both a social practice and an important discursive feature. On this topic, see Althoff, Family, Friends and Followers, 65–101. 116. For a study of the ways in which Chang’an acted as a magnet for literati in the late eighth and early ninth centuries and shaped their representations of literati culture, see Linda Feng, “Chang’an and Narratives of Experience in Tang Tales,” HJAS 71:1 (2011), 35–68. 117. See also Li Dehui 李德輝, Tangdai wenguan zhidu ji qi yu zhengzhi he wenxue zhi guanxi 唐代文官制度及其於政治和文學之關係 (Shanghai: Guji chubanshe, 2006), 302–6, for a discussion of exchange verse that emerged from circles of men assigned to the Imperial Library and the Jixian yuan.

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pursued outside official business hours then strengthened social contacts made through service in the bureaucracy. The young officials’ new status also spilled over into other areas of their lives, such as their choice of Chang’an wards in which to live (the east-central quarters were the most popular among young men), their carousing in winehouses and brothels, and other forms of homosocial bonding.118 But this literati community also thrived outside of Chang’an: aside from being posted to prefectures in the regular system of appointment, men were driven away from the expensive capital by examination failure and lured away by other opportunities, such as posts in the staffs of military commissioners.119 Even for the successful men who passed one or more examinations at the capital and landed a position, the uncertainty and turbulence of the examination years were followed by the frequent relocations of most Tang official careers, which could include years spent in the provinces. The common literati experience of moving in and out of the capital, whether in a prefectural post within the regular bureaucracy, or in a post “outside the stream” in the service of a military commissioner, or even in a punitively distant regional office in the hinterlands (in the case of severe demotion), only heightened men’s interest in maintaining their lifelines to their companions, to senior officials, and to a shared culture.120 Much extant literati writing shows ninth-century men using their compositions for the practical purpose of maintaining their contacts and career momentum. Being outside the capital also allowed the possibility of reinvention. During the two and a half years Han Yu spent in the provincial capi118. See Rouzer, Articulated Ladies, 249–83. 119. Dai, Tangdai mufu yu wenxue, 31–51. 120. Here and throughout, I use the term “demotion” rather than “exile” for the experience of being punished by a significant decrease in rank and being assigned a post far outside the capital. Although this experience sometimes meant the failure of the official to reassume his higher rank, often due to death in the lower prefectural post, only rarely were these extreme demotions true “exile” in that they precluded all possibility of return. As their poems, letters, prefaces, and other documents demonstrate, those so demoted always hoped for a change in fate. The frequency and significance of these moves in and out of the capital via transfer or demotion has been studied by Yu Xianhao 郁賢 皓, Tang ci shi kao quan bian 唐刺史考全編 (Hefei: Anhui daxue chubanshe, 2000); see also Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 157–94. For a recent study of the influence of political demotion on Tang literature, see Shang Yongliang, Tang Wudai zhuchen.

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tal of Bianzhou (796–99) on the staff of the military commissioner, for example, Meng Jiao, Zhang Ji, and Li Ao sought him out as a mentor. Han Yu there transformed himself from a failed young office-seeker in Chang’an to the leader of a circle of men for whom he could act as friend and teacher, with whom he could debate, lecture, and compose poems, essays, and letters. Liu Yuxi, during decades spent outside the capital because of his role in the events of 805, developed a large body of plaint literature and also turned his eyes to local life, in both his “Bamboo Branch” songs and his rich landscape verse. Bai Juyi used his first long period outside the capital, from 815 to 820, to adopt the role of the recluse (in both Daoist and Buddhist modes) in his letters and poems sent to former colleagues in the capital, and he continued to develop this role even after returning to higher office. Examination practices forged one possible collective identity for mid-Tang literati early in their careers, but it was the layering of that experience with time spent in government offices alongside other junior officials, and through extensive correspondence, travel, reading, and meetings in unexpected places with their distant peers, that led them to sustain a community across space, time, and career vicissitudes. It was not simply that the imperial court was no longer the sole important cultural center for literati, as it had been in the era of Tang Xuanzong; instead, though the goal of serving the emperor in the highest, most influential posts never lost its allure and Chang’an remained the greatest city in the empire, post-Rebellion literati sought to fashion distinct identities and literary personas that they could occupy anywhere, in response to the unreliability of capital office. Through regular rotation of senior officials such as censors and military governors in and out of the provinces, the Tang government hoped to prevent local centers of power controlled for long periods by a single man or group of men, though certain regions remained stubbornly beyond imperial control through much of the ninth century. This long-standing policy was driven by political pragmatism (to prevent regional rebellions and loss of provincial revenue) and was even more pressing from the late 780s through the early 800s, but it also had longterm cultural consequences, namely, the strengthening of a dispersed literati culture that possessed a nominal

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center, Chang’an, yet thrived beyond it.121 To summarize this in sociological terms, from the late eighth century through the last decades of the dynasty, the community of elite men with similar educations, ambitions, and interests became more diverse in social class composition, geographic distribution, and range of literary tastes. As that community changed, its members were increasingly able to assert individual and collected positions within it as creators—not simply transmitters— of their common culture. Friendship within the ninth-century literati community, conducted in person and through texts, became a powerful way to claim and maintain one’s identity as a shi 士; it also nourished a new cultural independence.122

Mid-Tang Interest in Responsibility and Reform Whereas changes in the social attitudes and practices of elites and the growing importance of examinations directly encouraged the formation of friendship networks in mid-Tang society, intellectual and literary developments were implicated in literati friendship in more subtle and uneven ways. Before investigating the interwoven development of the social practice and its literary expression in the following chapters, I must emphasize the centrality of literary writing to mid-Tang elite culture, a fact about the period that is sometimes lost from the perspective of later dynasties, where writing was only one cultural activity among many, and elite writing only one element of a multivocal elite and popular literary scene. As David McMullen has argued, “It was the practice of literature, more than any other activity in which T’ang scholars engaged, that was central to the self-image of their community, their outlook on the world, and their efforts to cure the ills they saw around them.”123 How did literati friendship play a part in promoting literary composition, this core component of Tang culture? As noted above, friendship first provided opportunities for both literary experi121. For the evolution of the Tang government’s policy towards the provinces in this period, see Charles A. Peterson’s chapter, “Court and Province in Mid and Late T’ang,” in Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 464–560. 122. On the issue of changing definitions of shi in the Tang-Song transition, see Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 32–75. 123. McMullen, State and Scholars, 210.

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mentation and self-advertising through texts to a wider public; second, it encouraged interpersonal debate and negotiation about issues that literati found most pressing, captured in literary texts that were also circulated as part of literati portfolios. Finally, the assumption of trust and mutual understanding in friendship provided the rhetorical and emotional support for writing boldly and directly about personal experience, a hallmark of mid-Tang writing. A reasonable question to raise at this point is, what changed in the period? Why were mid-Tang literati more interested in engaged debate or authentic communication with one another in such a wide range of venues than literati of the High Tang or the immediate post-Rebellion years? Aside from the social and political transformations discussed above, I would point to a new seriousness in certain quarters of midTang literary culture.124 This was especially true during the second half of emperor Dezong’s reign and the entire reign of Xianzong, when literati found new opportunities and encouragement to use their writing to establish reputations, win positions, and influence policy.125 In the 770s and 780s, responding in part to the “crisis of culture” felt in the wake of the An Lushan Rebellion, some high-ranking officials brought a reformist spirit and dedication to literary writing in a range of genres. In the works of literati like Dugu Ji 獨孤及 (725–77) and Liang Su 梁 肅 (753–93), whose concern for a renewed attention to the sages and to Confucian thinkers of antiquity inspired Han Yu and others, and men like Du You 杜佑 (735–812) and Lu Zhi, whose attention to institutional

124. On the seriousness of post-Rebellion literati, see McMullen, State and Scholars, 244–49; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 108ff; DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 19–44; Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 22–25. Li Dehui also argues that the growing importance of the Hanlin Academy in the mid-Tang period, overshadowing the more purely “literary bureaus” of the Hongwen and Jixian yuan, was itself an indicator of a general cultural shift (292–300). Hanlin scholars in the early ninth century were not merely consultative officials but played a large role in shaping imperial policy. They advanced into senior administrative posts and were placed in the military governorships of the most powerful provinces with great regularity. Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 35–58; Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 590–95; Shang Yongliang, Tang Wudai zhuchen, 270–73. 125. Dezong’s openness to critique and debate seems to have declined in the last several years of his reign, however; the traditional reading of his final decade is that he was increasingly under the control of the eunuchs. Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 598–601.

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history and the exercise of political power was intended to instruct and reform, there was a new commitment to using wenzhang as a tool to shape state and society.126 The stage of the examination system, though extremely important to literati careers, was but one corner of the larger “arena of literature” (wenchang 文場) in which elite men used their writing to achieve social and political goals. Mastery of a range of literary genres, such as the letter, the policy statement, the rhapsody, and regulated verse of varying lengths, was necessary not only to qualify for and pass examinations but also to participate consistently in official life. Although the extant prose and poetic texts suggest that most Tang literati—like most literati in earlier eras—were content to learn and reproduce conventional writing in their careers, for some the ancient mandate to “establish oneself through words” (li yan 立言) became more than a careerist goal; it was a call to reconsider the words one should bring to the task.127 Some literati saw the canonical imperative to transform culture through writing as an unfulfilled value of their age.128 The first post-Rebellion generation that included Dugu Ji and Liang Su raised questions that the generation that came of age in the late 790s and early 800s—the generation that left us the greatest number of texts on friendship—continued to discuss.129 What should the role of literary writing be in Tang culture? Could writing successfully be used to affect and reform contemporary ideas and actions, and if so, what changes might be needed to make writing more efficacious? Could literary writing give one access to the

126. McMullen, State and Scholars, 203–5, 239–40; Josephine Chiu-Duke, To Reform the Empire: Lu Chih’s Confucian Pragmatist Approach to the Mid-T’ang Predicament (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000). 127. The locus classicus for li yan is the Zuo zhuan, Duke Xiang 24, the last of the three achievements (the others being “establishing oneself through virtue” and “deeds”) that would preserve one’s name for posterity. The appropriate way to use language to establish oneself is the central topic of Han Yu’s “Letter Replying to Li Yi” (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1454). See also Liu Zongyuan’s discussion of li yan in his “Letter to Yang Ping,” Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:786–89. It is also implicit in Bai Juyi’s 815 letter to Yuan Zhen on literature (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2789). 128. On the prevalence of this question and the range of responses to it in the period, see Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 130–31; also DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 30–34. 129. McMullen, State and Scholars, 245–46; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 110–16, Joshui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 26–28.

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Way, and was such knowledge best cultivated in tandem with others in a teacher-student relationship, or in a close circle, or acquired by the individual working alone? How could one make writing both persuasive and sincere (cheng 誠)? Mid-Tang writers’ intellectual engagement with these issues in their writing shaped their political actions and their personal engagement with one another.130 These efforts to blend the literary, intellectual, political, and social dimensions of their lives are characteristic of a strain of mid-Tang idealism, even naiveté.131 But literati differed greatly in the degree to which they were able or willing to actively implement their ideals in official life. For example, in their early years in Chang’an, Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen wrote about reinvigorating literature with the responsiveness sanctioned by canonical models of poetry, particularly the response of writers to social and political issues. Bai Juyi’s view of himself as a politically engaged, morally responsible literatus continued into his service as a Hanlin scholar, where he wrote strongly worded memorials to emperor Xianzong, and he continued to do so even after he ended his Hanlin service.132 As Bai and Yuan implemented this ideal of critique in their socially conscious “new yuefu,” they also extended the practice to their writing to one another. For Yuan, this responsiveness shaped his understanding of his work as a poet: as he said in his 815 “Letter to [Bai Juyi] Letian Explaining Poetry,” during this period in Chang’an, “everything I encountered that was different from the usual” 凡所對遇異於常者,

130. The scholarship of Kawai Kōzō on mid-Tang literary change, which he has published steadily over the past few decades, investigates many of the important new areas of mid-Tang literary innovation, including “the strange,” the interest in authenticity, and a new playfulness in literature. For an introduction to his larger themes, see “The Transformation of Chinese Literature: From the High T’ang to the Mid-T’ang,” Acta Asiatica 70 (1996): 76–94; and the range of essays collected in Shūnanzan no henyō: Chūtō bungaku ronshū 終南山の変容 : 中唐文学論集 (Tokyo : Kenbun shuppan, 1999). 131. On mid-Tang idealism as an expression of the idea that the political and cultural roles literati played should be continuous, see Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 9–11, and 24–26. 132. See Eugène Feifel, Po Chü-i as a Censor: His Memorials Presented to Emperor Hsien-tsung During the Years 808–810 (The Hague: Mouton, 1961). Bai’s outspokenness was also his downfall in 815, when he wrote outraged letters calling for the prompt investigation of Grand Councilor Wu Yuanheng’s assassination, a protest that led to his demotion.

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including “anything that in official or personal life provoked me to outrage” 公私感憤, could appropriately inspire a poetic response.133 This commitment could waver or fail: the experience of political disgrace led Bai Juyi to other literary topics, and he never regained his enthusiasm for his earlier, reformist style; and as Yuan Zhen rose higher in the political hierarchy, his extant texts suggest that he used his strident tone more often to attack his opponents’ policies.134 Others, like Han Yu, Huangfu Shi, Meng Jiao, and Liu Zongyuan, explored forms of writing, in particular the plain prose style that came to be known as guwen 古文, that required a disavowal of prevailing styles and a more radical, individual dedication to rediscovering the Way of the sages.135 Han Yu’s commitment to original writing certainly lasted through his middle career, though most of his more provocative and innovative compositions appear to date from his earlier years of struggle.136 In contrast, Liu Zongyuan, who spent the last fourteen years of his life 133. Yuan Zhen ji (xiuding ben) 元稹集(修訂本), ed. Ji Qin 冀勤, 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2009), 1:406 (hereafter Yuan Zhen ji). For a study of Yuan’s more provocative claims in this letter, see Shields, “Defining Experience,” 61–78. 134. But both men’s commitment to literary innovation continued after 820 and importantly extended to their writing of official documents, where they developed a plainer prose style they labeled their “new style” (xin ti 新體). Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 58–59; Wang Xuncheng, Tangdai quan xuan yu wenxue, 196–98. 135. Although I examine texts written for and exchanged among Han Yu, Liu Zongyuan, Li Ao, Meng Jiao, Zhang Ji, and others associated with an interest in antiquity, I will not refer to the “guwen” circle or “movement” (guwen yundong 古文運 動). There was a shared interest in the ideas of antiquity and the prose styles of ancient masters among these literati, and this interest was, at various times and by a range of late eighth- and ninth-century literati, advocated in texts. However, a more coherent sense of guwen as a style and intellectual position, including the tendency to attribute philosophical consistency to the mid-Tang writers associated with Han Yu, did not develop until the early Northern Song. Studies of guwen texts and the ideas of those who wrote them are too numerous to catalogue here. Some important discussions include Qian Mu 錢穆, “Guwen yundong” 古文運動, in Zhongguo xueshu sixiang shi luncong 中 國學術思想史論叢 , vol. 4 (Taibei, 1978), 30–55; Sun Changwu 孫昌武, Tangdai guwen yundong tonglun 唐代古文運動通論 (Tianjin: Baihua wenyi chubanshe, 1984); Yu-shih Chen, Images and Ideas, 1–13 and throughout; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 131–36; Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 127–34; and DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 115–45. 136. See McMullen, “Han Yü,” 607, 645–48, for a discussion of Han’s advocacy of his ideals over the course of his later career. See also Stephen Owen’s study of Han Yu’s evolution as a poet in The Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975).

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in a remote low-ranking post and died before being pardoned (though he might have been pardoned after Xianzong’s death, if he had lived to see it), exploited the intellectual and literary freedom that political marginalization gave him.137 After his experience with political reform proved so disastrous, during the years out of the capital Liu found greater potential in writing, defining it famously as the means to “illuminate [make manifest] the Way” 文者以明道.138 As his large corpus of texts addressed to other literati testifies, rather than severing him from fruitful discourse, life in regions distant from the capital brought Liu Zongyuan new opportunities, ideas, and eager readers with whom he corresponded. More than highlighting the divergence of the era’s literary styles and ideas, mid-Tang texts of friendship tend to expose an important shared assumption about wenzhang across a spectrum of writers: that good writing required not just competence in the medieval canon but a commitment to individual expression and a willingness to reject conventional forms and language when necessary.139 The gestures towards independence and innovation found in many mid-Tang texts stemmed in part from the desire to forge a unique identity with wenzhang,140 to the point where one critic suggested that adopting a “strange” (guai 怪) literary style became the norm during the reign of Xianzong.141 But this kind of writing was not to be pursued in isolation; it required careful, responsive readers to encourage and critique innovative compositions. Whether we look to the more moderate and conventional approach to literary 137. This was Liu’s own argument about the utility of his demotion (that writing became a good default choice in the absence of political work; see, e.g., Liu’s letter to Wu Wuling, Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:824–25), and it was repeated and strengthened by Han Yu, in his epitaph for Liu. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2391–93. 138. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:871. For a cogent discussion of Liu Zongyuan’s evolving commitment to literature, see Peter Bol’s review of Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan and Intellectual Change in T’ang China, 773–819, in HJAS 56.1 (1996), 165–81. 139. DeBlasi’s characterization of the intellectual culture of the period as consisting of a mainstream and a guwen alternative fairly characterizes the responses literati offered on the issues of literary reform and the use of literature to sustain the Way. Since my focus is on a shared social practice and its literary representation, however, here I emphasize the common mid-Tang cultural ground out of which different responses (to friendship or other issues) emerged. 140. Owen, End of the Chinese “Middle Ages,” 12–24. 141. Li Zhao 李肇, Tang Guo shi bu 唐國史補 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1979), 57.

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experimentation taken by Bai, Yuan, and Li Shen 李紳 (772–846), or the radical efforts of Han Yu, Liu Zongyuan, and those associated with them, we find that they consistently called on one another to debate and defend their original ideas. To take one well-known example, it is no coincidence that in the context of the letter in which he articulated his famous position that literature should be used to illuminate the Way, Liu Zongyuan also noted the ridicule Han Yu received for his essay “On Teachers” as an example of dedication to ideals in the face of harsh criticism.142 His discussion and ultimate praise of Han’s “Biography of Fur Point,” an allegorical tale similar to the kind of tale Liu himself experimented with, is yet another example of supporting a fellow innovator.143 The record of mid-Tang literature is filled with examples of daring writing that created celebrity and brought censure to its authors; in taking these risks, these men understood well the need for allies among their peers as well as within the ranks of senior officials. By underscoring the social and conceptual common ground among mid-Tang writers, I do not intend to minimize their significant philosophical and stylistic differences. Instead, we will see that the distinctiveness of mid-Tang writers’ responses to similar problems they encountered in their relationships with other literati—recommending a close friend to a patron, negotiating a career setback with grace, commemorating the death of peers—sometimes reveals their different perspectives even more clearly. In writing to and about friends, literati often used their personal histories to contextualize political or intellectual problems, and in turn, they brought the resources of the tradition to bear on urgent issues of their own lives. In Han Yu’s letter to Li Ao chastising him for bad career advice, Han did not simply criticize Li Ao’s judgment, but took the opportunity to discuss their relations in light of the social and epistemological challenge of “knowing others” and to defend his decisions in Confucian terms. In Meng Jiao’s poem to his fellow candidate Li Guan 李觀 (766–94) lamenting his own failure and noting Li Guan’s success in passing the jinshi examination, Meng both described and enacted the sagely quality of steadfastness in the face of

142. For Liu’s fundamental agreement with Han’s position on the importance of teachers, see Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 144–47. 143. Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:569.

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adversity. When the long-demoted Yuan Zhen refused to echo Bai Juyi’s nostalgia for their youth in Chang’an in the late years of Xianzong’s reign, he implicitly rejected Bai’s sentimentality and offered a harsher, more political reading of their years spent outside the capital. And at his fellow Shunzong official Lü Wen’s death, Liu Zongyuan used Confucian defenses in his laments to rebuke the “age” that had rejected their activist vision. In all these cases, the solidarity of friendship did not silence disagreement; rather, it placed the burden even more heavily on each writer to defend his position with skill, passion, and originality, to communicate persuasively with both “those who know me” (zhiwozhe 知我者) and the wider audience of potential readers.

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Building Networks: Friendship, Patronage, and Celebrity Zengzi said, “The superior man uses wen to make friends, and uses friends to enrich his humaneness.” 曾子曰: 君子以文會友, 以友輔仁. —Analects 12.24 It is beneficial to have three kinds of friends; it is detrimental to have three other kinds of friends. To make friends with the forthright, the trustworthy in word, and the well informed is beneficial. To make friends with the ingratiating in action, the pleasing in appearance, and the plausible in speech is detrimental. 孔子曰: 益者三友, 捐者三友. 友直, 友諒, 友多聞, 益矣. 友便辟, 友 善柔, 友便佞, 捐矣. —Analects 16.4

F

or a young man new to Chang’an during the decades of the Tang emperors Dezong, Shunzong, and Xianzong, the sensory impact of the capital, with its exotic goods and displays of wealth, its grid of walls and wards teeming with Chinese and foreigners alike, could be overwhelming. But far more disorienting was the challenge of navigating the social and political mazes of the career path, defined as progress up the ranks of the Tang officiate, alongside the thousands of other men intent on the same goal. If a man came from a prestigious family, his way epigraph: The passage about three types of friends in Analects 16.4 is followed by one (16.5) that distinguishes three types of “joy” (le 樂), the third of which is having “many worthy friends” 多賢友.

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was smoothed by wealth and influence, and he was virtually guaranteed a robust social network, including patronage and a strategic marriage alliance. The man who set out without this support, however, had to establish a reputation for character and talent through his own hard work and self-promotion. In writing to recommend his follower Hou Xi 侯喜 (d. 823) to the prefect of Ruzhou, one Lu Qian 盧虔, Han Yu described these different paths and gave his opinion of their relative “value”: If one is poor and lowly and is known by no one in the world but is able to encounter the great worthies by oneself, then this is truly to be valued. But if one already has a “name” and further relies on those with power and status, that is nothing more than a matter of the marketplace—what value is there in that? . . . . Ever since antiquity, the men who cultivated themselves and sustained their integrity but never encountered a patron [zhiji 知己] are numberless. 身在貧賤, 為天下所不知, 獨見遇於大賢, 乃可貴也. 若自有名聲, 又託形 勢, 此乃市道之事, 又何足貴乎? . . . . 士之修身立節而竟不遇知己, 前古 以來不可勝數.1

In defending Hou Xi (who was indeed of humble family background), Han Yu reframed the competition for office by shifting the definition of gui—“noble,” as in aristocratic birth, but also “valuable”— to merit and talent rather than birth, and in so doing, he daringly relegated the “nobility” to the realm of the ignoble marketplace.2 Despite Han Yu’s aggressive rhetoric defending Hou, letters such as this only serve to reinforce the picture of the ninth-century social hierarchy that controlled political paths, including examination success (both at the

1. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1487; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 4:3079. Han Yu went on to flatter Lu Qian for his unique abilities as a zhiji 知己, a patron able to appreciate men of talent. He adopted a similar strategy in his better-known letter of a year later to the assistant examiner Lu San 陸傪, in which he recommended ten men (including Hou Xi), eight of whom later passed the jinshi. For a more detailed discussion of zhiji, see below. 2. Meng Jiao also used Han’s metaphor of the “market” (Meng’s term is shijing 市 井) in a few of his poems, though for him, it stood for the place where unrecognized scholars were relegated to “sell” their talents. Meng Jiao shiji jiaozhu, 83, 226, 453.

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prefectural and the national level) and attainment of office, one in which family name and kinship affiliations and the wealth that usually accompanied them determined young men’s futures. In these social and political conditions, Tang literati had to spend years, and sometimes even decades, cultivating social contacts, particularly vertical relationships with patrons, as scaffolding for career advancement; for those with literary talent and little else, circulating their writing to prospective patrons was an essential requirement. At the same time, mid-Tang texts also suggest that young men spent an extraordinary amount of time in homosocial bonding, forging ties with men of similar ages and aspirations. In this chapter I explore the interplay of vertical and horizontal social networks in mid-Tang texts, focusing on the links between the early stages of literati careers (including seeking patrons, preparing for the exams, and holding initial offices) and the forming and publicizing of friendship circles. Praising one’s fellows may seem to be a simple literary act, and yet given the ruthless competition for official posts, it was not an obvious topic of composition for aspiring officials. Certainly Tang literati before the late eighth century composed texts for and about their companions, but the relative prominence of social circles and close friendships in mid-Tang texts was quite new, and it is clearly linked to the instrumental value of social networks in the Tang bureaucratic system. In a parting preface addressed to an examination candidate who had failed three times at the metropolitan exam, “Preface Seeing Off Wei [Zhongli 中 立] the Seventh, the Flowering Talent, after Failing the Exams, [urging him to] Seek out Beneficial Friends” 送韋七秀才下第求益友序, Liu Zongyuan emphasized the importance of you 友 as advocates in the pursuit of “being known”: Some would have it that Student Wei’s failure to pass is the fault of those in power [yousi 有司, referring to the officials in charge of the examinations]. I say that is incorrect. The Guliang says: “If one’s mind is firm, then one will succeed, but if one’s reputation is not known, that is the fault of one’s friends.3 If one’s reputation is known, but those in power do not then

3. This also alludes to Xunzi 29.3: “Thus if at home one does not cultivate oneself, that is one’s own fault; but if one goes out into the world and one’s name is not known, that is the fault of one’s friends” 故入而行不脩, 身之罪也; 出而名不章, 友之過也.

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appoint you, that is the fault of those in power.” There are limits to what people can observe and hear, and there is a degree to which even [one’s] spirit and will cannot attain [by themselves]. The Way of antiquity was such that if one’s reputation was not known, one did not fault those in power—how is that not even more true today? Now you, Student Wei, are joyful and forthright within, but you do not wish to vaunt yourself without. This intent is incorrect. Just as Confucius did not flee fame in order to effect his Way, so must Student Wei rely upon his writing, select his friends carefully, and set his heart on finding favor with those in power—is this not the Way of the ancients? Since you are about to set off, I write these words for you, in order to move you and also thereby influence your friends, so that [even] the misguided ones will know not to blame those in power. 或以韋生之不勝, 為有司罪. 余曰,非也. 穀梁子曰: 心志既通, 而名譽不 聞, 友之過也. 名譽既聞, 而有司不以告, 有司之過也. 人之視聴有所止, 神志有所不及. 古之道, 名譽未至, 不以罪有司, 而況今乎? 今韋生樂植乎内, 而不欲揚乎外, 其志非也. 孔子不避名譽以致其道, 今韋生仗其文, 簡其友, 思自得於有司, 抑非古人之道歟? 將行也, 余為 之言, 既以遷其人, 又以移其友, 且使惑者知釋有司也.4

Although Liu Zongyuan’s definition of you in this text was clearly broader than “close companions,” suggesting a range of associates, he persuasively defended the practical value of a network of you in order to make one’s name known.5 Moreover, the composition itself demonstrates the utility of such texts: Liu’s preface itself was strong enough to serve as a recommendation that Wei could circulate among his peers and among “those in power” in his next attempt at the examinations. The failure to find others to promote oneself was the sin of mere self-recommendation, or zijin ziju zhi zui 自進自舉之罪, as Han Yu called it; a network of social connections that included friends was at least better than that unfortunate state.6 4. Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:628–29. The text is not dated, but the more famous letter to Wei Zhongli dates from 813. Liu used a shorter version of the same citation from the Guliang zhuan (and the same general advice) in a 798 letter to another failed examination candidate (3:876). 5. Mair, in “Scroll Presentation in the T’ang Dynasty,” cites an earlier part of the letter in which Liu Zongyuan points out the hypocrisy of officials who, flooded with hundreds of scrolls from candidates, claim to have not overlooked anyone of talent (49). 6. Han Yu used the phrase in his first of three “Letters Presented to the Ministers” 上宰相書, Han Yu quanji jiaozhu 3:1241; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:619. See P. A.

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As the scholar Fu Xuancong has noted, it is no surprise to find that the activities that appear most often in accounts of literati life in Chang’an from this period are the pursuit of patrons and the taking of pleasure outings in the company of peers.7 The constant appearance in so many mid-Tang texts of these enterprises and the networks they created has a complicated relationship to the facts of social history. As to the pursuit of patrons, Tang biographies tell us that it was by no means limited to the early years of examinations; in fact, the need for connections among higher-ranking officials only increased the further one went up the career ladder, as groups of prospective candidates grew more competitive and available positions remained few. Thus, from a young age Tang literati cultivated composition skills in a wide range of forms to impress and to curry favor; mastered letters of self-presentation, recommendation, formal notes of gratitude, prefaces written as favors for superiors, poems of farewell to officials, even eulogies for people they had never met; and continued to produce such texts throughout their careers. Elite social gatherings had long been important places for literary composition and poetic exchange, sites of networking and self-advertisement; and as the court-centered culture of pre-Rebellion Tang China gave way to a more decentralized elite culture in the mid- and late Tang, these gatherings occurred well beyond court and capital, flourishing in prefectural centers as well.8 In addition to the opportunities for socializing presented by banquets and festival day celebrations, the centrality of occasion to the poetic tradition and the long history of feast poetry meant that elite social outings and their participants were disproportionately represented in the literary record, especially in poetry exchanges and collections. The diverse uses of literary writing made the social interactions of mid-Tang literati highly visible in the texts of men from all backgrounds. The political climates of the late reign of the emperor Dezong and the early reign of Xianzong also encouraged writing about one’s social Herbert, “Decree Examinations in T’ang China,” T’ang Studies 10–11 (1992–93), 11–14, for a discussion of the practice of ziju, “personal application,” in the Tang and certain intellectuals’ opposition to it. 7. Fu, Tangdai keju, 75–76, 259ff. 8. For a discussion of the impact of decentralized literary activity on mid-Tang culture, see Li Dehui, Tangdai wenguan zhidu, 293–309.

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connections in poems and other texts, though in quite different ways. The prospects for men seeking positions in the regular bureaucracy were dim in the last decade (795–805) of Dezong’s reign, and upward mobility or influence from the bureaucracy was frequently thwarted. The weakness of the regular bureaucracy during this period did nothing to diminish the numbers of men seeking to join it, which only heightened levels of competition (and failure) among younger literati. The ascent of Xianzong to the throne in 805 brought a new energy and optimism to those hoping to enter the stream of official service through the examinations, even though it did not create a significantly larger pool of positions.9 For the small group of men who were able to move beyond the metropolitan examinations, the selection procedures for subsequent positions that the majority of aspiring officials had to pass (sometimes multiple times in a career) redoubled the weight of recommendations from high-ranking officials. As Penelope Herbert notes, “Each candidate had to name in his dossier five metropolitan officials as guarantors. . . . Anecdotal material shows that the system of guarantors frequently violated the spirit of its classical precedent and became a free-for-all in which candidates touted for references and would-be sponsors angled for promising protégés.”10 Aside from the competition for posts in the regular bureaucracy, this period also saw the growth of positions “outside the stream” of regular appointment to one of the nine ranks; these, too, required recommendations and contacts among superiors, whether locally or in the capital, and could serve as a path to positions “within the stream” over time.11 The fundamental scarcity of offices in the late eighth and early ninth centuries and the obstacles faced by men without strong preexisting networks only sharpened the need they felt to develop social connections of all kinds, but particularly with influential patrons. Literary writing was a critical mode of entrée into those networks. The prominence of friendships and social circles in mid-Tang texts raises further questions about incentives and objectives beyond the merely 9. Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 589–98, 624–29. 10. P. A. Herbert, Examine the Honest, Appraise the Able: Contemporary Assessments of Civil Service Selection in Early Tang China (Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies Monographs, Australia National University, 1988), 30. 11. Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 41–43.

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utilitarian, however. In the relentless quest to be noticed by those in power, how could a literatus describe his peers as anything but competition? What benefits might there be in publicizing one’s circle? Was writing about friends merely aimed at creating politically influential factions, a literary extension of political maneuvering?12 Writing about men identified as you 友 or using other terms for close companions raised questions of social identity that often overlapped with political and social goals. Here I focus on the rhetoric used for circles of friends rather than descriptions of intimate dyadic relationships, and I examine two approaches to writing about friends that engaged problems of identity, approaches we might label differentiation and identification (or assimilation). In differentiating a circle of acquaintances, some literati might define a coterie by its members’ opposition to prevailing tastes, whereas others might seek to identify themselves entirely through the symbols and values of contemporary culture.13 Han Yu and his group became famous in their early careers for standing in opposition to a conventional writing style and mainstream cultural values; conversely, Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen (and many others) advertised their ranks, activities, and social connections in ways that both highlighted and reaffirmed their celebrity within the milieu of established values. Although the latter approach appears to have been by far the most common, both strategies had far-reaching social and cultural implications, in that they allowed literati to make new claims about the relationship between individual talent and group values,

12. The threat of factionalism, though largely under control during Dezong’s and Xianzong’s reigns, became a destructive force in Tang government from the late 820s through the end of the dynasty. On the influence late Tang factionalism had within the examination system, see Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 89–100, 202–18. Moore also notes (208n78) Liu Zongyuan’s complaint in a 798 letter about factionalism within the National University (Taixue 太學). Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:868. 13. DeBlasi, in Reform in the Balance, adopts a similar approach to discussing midTang literary culture, locating Bai and others in the “mainstream” of intellectual and literary life, and defining Han Yu and his circle as the “alternative” approach. Here, I focus more narrowly on the representation of individual and group identity and inter-group social relations, and therefore adopt terms more commonly used in social psychology, particularly in the areas of social identity and social categorization theory. See Michael A. Hogg, “Intergroup Relations,” in John A. Delamater, ed., Handbook of Social Psychology (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2003), 479–501.

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claims that sometimes challenged more broadly held contemporary standards. Moreover, these strategies were not mutually exclusive over time. Where Han Yu at one point might claim uniqueness for himself and his group, at other moments, such as in his letter recommending Hou Xi, he might appeal to a patron’s sense of shared values and judgment, hoping to rhetorically assimilate the patron into Han’s circle of cognoscenti. If differentiation and identification can be seen as actions performed within a given social context for specific social and political purposes, we might also think of them as a way to take positions within a cultural field, with those who sought to differentiate themselves claiming a conceptual outsider position with respect to the dominant literati culture, and those who identified with current values hoping to plausibly adopt the position of insiders.14 In both cases, competition for cultural capital (and its accompanying social and political rewards) was the driving force. Sometimes the respective positions corresponded to holding or lacking office—Han Yu’s critiques of hypocrisy and misunderstanding were certainly the most vehement when he was unemployed or felt his talents to be under-utilized—but not always.15 The positions were also mutually reinforced within circles, through the repetition of phrases and terms within the texts of the group, and those reputations became influential beyond the immediate peer group as the men became better known. Positions adopted by groups or representative members could shift, blend, and change over time as well. As David McMullen has argued, Han Yu’s most strident arguments regarding guwen and his writing about that early small circle decreased over time, as he rose in rank and influence and his network of associates widened.16 14. In my approach to the cultural field of the mid-Tang, I draw on Bourdieu’s Field of Cultural Production and also incorporate perspectives from the sociologist Randall Collins and his work on intellectual history, Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998). 15. The rhetorical force of Han Yu’s outsider position, found in early texts such as his letters presented to the grand councilors, certainly derived from his failure to land a good office or to pass the boxue hongci examination after passing the jinshi in 792. See Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 122–24, on the relationship between the earlier generation of literati, which included Liang Su and Li Hua, and that of Han and his circle. See also Owen, End of the Chinese ‘Middle Ages,’ 15–17, for a discussion of the mid-Tang interest in establishing a unique, singular identity. 16. McMullen, “Han Yu: An Alternative Picture,” HJAS 49.2 (1989), 607, 624, 656–

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There were obviously positions and styles that were more amenable to fame than others, and as the example of the High Tang poet Li Bai so clearly demonstrates, a reputation for literary brilliance did not guarantee political success. The celebrity of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen—which they themselves eagerly documented in poems composed between 800 and 810 and referred to long after those years—continued to grow through their many imitators, as Yuan Zhen noted in a letter of 819 and again in his preface to Bai Juyi’s 824 collection.17 By talking about themselves and their circles in the many letters, prefaces, and poems they wrote over time, literati sought to solidify their reputations and shape their futures. Early in their careers, therefore, writing about friendship gave literati an opportunity to accrue social capital through networking and advertising, helped them land positions for themselves and their peers, and allowed them to stake out identities within the culture. Although joining a circle might mean consistently embracing a particular position or style, as in the case of Han Yu and his group’s defense of “antiquity” as a critique of contemporary culture, literati could also choose to adopt insider or outsider positions at different times, for new goals. We find a compelling example of this in Yuan Zhen and Bai Juyi’s poems of social criticism, the “new yuefu,” the first of which were composed at the height of the men’s early success in the capital. In 806, Bai and Yuan (who were thirty-four and twenty-seven, respectively) were among sixteen men to pass a highly prestigious decree examination under the new emperor Xianzong that examined candidates on policy recommendations.18 In preparing for that examination, they had written dozens of brief “policy papers” (ce 策), which Bai later collected as the Ce lin 策林, “Forest of Policy Papers,” many of which presented plans for 57. However, funerary texts remained throughout Han’s life an important context for writing about his friends individually. 17. Statements that refer to their shared fame as writers are found in Bai Juyi’s 823 poem sent to Yuan Zhen, which reads: “From the Changqing [reign] forward, the language of decrees became elevated and ancient; as for poetry, in the Yuanhe its style became fresh and new” 制從長慶辭高古, 詩到元和體變新 (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 3:1532); and Yuan Zhen’s statements in the preface to Bai Juyi’s collected works of 824 (Yuan Zhen ji, 2:641). For a discussion of Yuan’s claim about imitators and what it implied for his own work, see Shields, “Defining Experience,” 61–78. 18. Xu Song 徐松, comp., Dengke jikao 登科記考, ed. Zhao Shouyan 趙守儼, 3 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984), 856–57. Yuan Zhen placed first in the list.

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reform.19 After passing the examination, each man achieved a position from which he could make recommendations and offer critiques of government policy, Bai Juyi most influentially from the position of Hanlin Academician, a post he held from 808 to 809. One could hardly find better examples of literati promise in 809 than these two men, whose success in multiple exams had won them both fame and office. It was in these promising political circumstances that the two men, along with Li Shen, began to compose their “new yuefu,” which were defined by Bai as ballads of political criticism that traced their roots to the odes of the Shi jing.20 These polemical pieces were consistent with certain reformist positions articulated in the earlier policy papers, but they also satirized the wealthy and powerful, which would have been inadvisable to all but those who felt very secure in their offices.21 The insider status of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen in 809, a consequence of their examination success and subsequent positions, allowed them to adopt an outsider position—in this case, the authoritative voice of social criticism. Moreover, their targets were suitably generic—rapacious merchants, hypocritical officials, abandoned singing girls—so that they could assume the pose of informed critic without endangering relationships with particular individuals.22 Most useful for this discussion are compositions from the early years of literati careers, when the stakes for forming friendships, patron connections, and reputations were extremely high; but over time many literati sought to broaden the meaning of their jiao 交 well beyond

19. See DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 78–86. 20. According to their own statements, Yuan was the first, along with Li, to compose new yuefu. For Bai’s definition, see Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:136; for Yuan’s, see Yuan Zhen ji, 1:319. In 817, Yuan composed more new yuefu and wrote a longer preface, “Preface to the New Yuefu to Old Titles” 樂府古題序, explaining their origins and affiliations (Yuan Zhen ji, 1:291–92). 21. For Yuan’s early reformist positions see Angela Palandri, Yuan Zhen (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977), 31–43. See also Bian Xiaoxuan 卞孝萱, Yuan Zhen nianpu 元稹年譜 (Qi Lu shushe, 1980), 150–51; and Zhou Xianglu 周相錄, Yuan Zhen nianpu xinbian 元稹年譜新編 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2004), 78–79. 22. Owen also notes that with these yuefu Bai was setting himself apart from both the “lofty euphony” of prevalent regulated verse style and the “strange diction” of the style promoted by Han Yu. See his chapter on Tang literature in Kang-i Sun Chang and Stephen Owen, eds., The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 334.

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utility, and they defended their relationships, particularly the closest ones, as signs of personal integrity. They were often careful in describing the relative closeness or distance of a relationship and the grounds on which it was formed. Moreover, these definitions could be nuanced or adapted, whether in terms of intimacy or relative status within the relationship, to adhere to the different conventions in terms of style register or formality of various genres and occasions. There was flexibility within a social circle for a man at one moment to label one of his peers as a “friend” 友 or with the more formal and political term “[one] whom I know” (suozhi 所知), and at another moment, to adopt the position of elder, teacher, or mentor towards the same person, expressing a master-disciple relationship. Other kinds of connections, particularly marriage relations, often developed over time to expand the repertoire of roles within a dyadic relationship or a circle. For example, in 785, Quan Deyu married the second daughter of Cui Zao 崔造 (737–87), one of his patrons; despite their patron-client relationship and a twenty-year difference in age, letters from both men documenting the marriage negotiation are filled with formal references to the language of equal friendship from the Analects and the Shishuo xinyu.23 Relationships could also grow new layers over time: Han Yu married his niece to Li Ao, thereby making a man he already called both his friend and student a relative by marriage as well. These different social positions were signaled in texts by terms of address and labels for men in one’s circle of acquaintance. Many examples of shifting terms to indicate discrete social relations can be found in Han Yu’s corpus; when referring to his circle rather than specific individuals, for example, he frequently used terms that reinforce collective identity over any single dyadic relationship. He labeled men in his circle both you 友 and tu 徒, “those of the same kind,”24 or ersanzi 二三子, “my two or 23. Quan Deyu shi wen ji 權德輿詩文集, ed. Guo Guangwei 郭廣偉, 2 vols. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2008), 2:638–41. This rhetoric stands in contrast to Quan’s more (appropriately) humble language in his offering text for Cui, in which he emphasizes Cui’s superior rank and age, and calls him a zhiji. Ibid., 2:783–85. 24. Han’s use of tu 徒 in the sense of “fellows, companions” usually implies a group of equals, Han’s “gang” of like-minded men, those who accompany him, as opposed to his students, mensheng 門生. For some examples of this sense of tu in his poems, see “Drunk, Presented to Secretary Zhang [Shu]” 醉贈張秘書 or “Seeing Off Master Ling”

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three fellows,” or wuzi 吾子, “my son(s)/student(s)/fellow(s),” terms that echoed Confucius’s references to his students in the Analects.25 At times, this flexible terminology could be used to imply an ideological position. When Han Yu advertised to patrons the men who came to study with him, his recommendations were grounded in the claim to “know/understand people” (zhiren 知人), one of the roles of a “superior person” (junzi 君子) but also that of the teacher (shi 師), a role Han Yu was critically reinventing.26 The risk of this strategy, of course, was that a prospective patron or chief examiner could disagree with Han’s opinion of “those whom he knew,” and the force of the rejection would then be doubled to repudiate both Han and his mentees. The potential benefit of the strategy for Han was to have his judgment and his integrity as a “knower” confirmed by those in power. Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, in contrast, frequently defined their relationship with each other and with other men in their circle of acquaintance as equal and lateral—one friend mirrored and echoed the other—and this definition also had goals beyond advertising a shared celebrity. For Bai and Yuan, the constant reaffirmation of shared identity and equal achievement allowed them

送靈師 (for wutu 吾徒), and “Sharp Sword” 利劍 (where he uses tulü 徒侶). Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:149, 306; Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:202, 390. 25. The phrase ersanzi 二三子 appears six times in the Analects, addressed to the group of men around Confucius. Translators differ in their choices: Legge and Slingerland translate it as “my disciples,” and D. C. Lau uses “my friends.” The Analects uses wutu 吾徒, but not wuzi 吾子. Han Yu used wuzi in both singular and plural cases; in his letters responding to Zhang Ji’s criticism of his lack of seriousness, for example, Han Yu repeats wuzi constantly throughout the letter to refer to Zhang as well as to the group that included Zhang, a pattern that emphasizes both the two men’s familiarity and Han Yu’s relative position of superiority in the teacher-student relationship. He uses wuzi in a similar manner in a letter to a young supplicant known to him and (then-deceased) Li Guan, seemingly as a way to emphasize the intellectual connection between himself and the young man, created by their shared acquaintance with Li Guan (which he describes in the letter), and their relative positions (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1526–27). 26. For Han’s approach to teaching and education, see McMullen, “Han Yü,” 623– 32. See also Chen’s discussion of the role of teacher in Liu Tsung-yüan, 144–47. Chen notes, “For the mid-T’ang educated public, Han Yü’s conception of teacher was unusual and quite strange. Han, Liu, and their fellow comrade in the Confucian revival, Lü Wen, pointed out that, after the Han dynasty, ‘teacher’ or ‘teacher-pupil’ had become a much neglected and despised social relationship” (145).

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to disguise the real competition between the two of them, and between them and others in their examination cohorts. In writing about those considered as close companions, however, these different sets of writers shared a notable similarity: in early-career texts about friendship, we rarely see affection or personal feeling being invoked in describing one’s circle or particular relationships. This feature of writing about friendship stems not only from the fact that the connections were relatively recent and perhaps superficial, but also from the likely audiences for these texts. Claims about “knowing people” were not only potentially very public, they were also testable; hypocrisy and false claims, however common, could be easily exposed. The early years of an official career therefore required great discretion, whether in making claims about oneself or in advertising one’s social relations. In trying to understand the potential impact of accounts of friendship, we must keep in mind that this was a very small world. In all the “million” people of late eighth- and early ninth-century Chang’an that Han Yu invoked in one text, there were only a few thousand people who could have influenced his future, and fewer with whom he could hope to forge useful connections early in his career.27 From one perspective, then, the strategies of identification and differentiation with social circles mirrored the individual quest on a larger scale, and therefore carried the same potential benefits and risks. It is true that the downsides of negative publicity were less urgent for the circle of friends than for the individual, except in cases of grave political misdeeds such as the extraordinary case of the clique in power during Shunzong’s reign. Becoming famous in this context was thus a high-risk enterprise for individuals: the higher one flew, the farther and more publicly one could fall, and the more permanently one’s reputation might be damaged. Fame was somewhat less

27. An examination candidate like Han would seek patrons from among the highest-ranking officials he could impress (at or above r. 5), most importantly the Chief Examiner or his assisting officials in the Ministry of Rites, where the examinations were administered, or officials in the Ministry of Personnel, responsible for the selection procedures. For information about the population of Chang’an at this time, including contemporary scholars’ views of Han’s estimate of a “million” inhabitants, see the discussion in Victor Xiong, Sui-T’ang Chang’an: A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China (Ann Arbor, MI: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 2000), 196–201.

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dangerous for circles or groups, which appear to have been more loosely affiliated during the reigns of Dezong and Xianzong.28 Moreover, in situations where one was demoted and sent out of the capital, for example, the patrons and friends who remained in power could still be mobilized to good effect, since others could write letters and present petitions on one’s behalf, as Bai Juyi did for Yuan Zhen after his 810 demotion, or as Pei Du did for Han Yu after Han’s 819 demotion for presenting his memorial on the Buddha bone. Even if we are unable to recreate the social circulation of mid-Tang documents with precision, we should think of texts on friends and friendship as always available for transmission and, for as long as the texts survived, as an ongoing influence on literati reputation. In order to understand the strategies and implications of texts that promoted relations with peers, therefore, we should also consider some strategies that literati used for self-advertisement to influential officials.

Seeking a Patron: Writing for the zhiji If the accusations of hyperbole and falsehood found in many Tang texts are to be believed, self-promotion was a delicate task that few Tang literati achieved gracefully.29 The Tang practice of self-promotion—essential to the political system throughout the dynasty—was heartily condemned in later dynasties, and even modern scholars sometimes seem at a loss to explain it.30 Many letters extant in the Quan Tang wen preserve 28. The evidence for this is largely negative; with the important exception of the group of men led by Wang Shuwen during the several months of the Shunzong reign, severe punishments of officials do not seem to have been extended to mere friends or members of a circle of literati. The example of the Wang Shuwen clique’s downfall surely served as a warning to literati during Xianzong’s reign. The factionalism of the 820s and later decades altered that pattern. See Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 639–69. 29. For a recent study of letters from literati seeking patrons in the context of midTang literary genres, see chapter 4 of Alexei Ditter, “Genre and the Transformation of Tang Dynasty Writing” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2009), 96–130. 30. One scholar of epistolary genres has suggested that the only thing “genuine” 真 about these texts was the authors’ desire to get ahead through flattery. Zhao Shugong

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the fulsome language of patron-seeking, and anecdotes in the standard histories and other accounts, such as the Guo shi bu 國史補 and the Tang zhi yan 唐摭言, confirm the excesses to which men would go to curry favor. In the past several decades, historians have reconstructed the steps of self-recommendation that became common literati practice in the eighth and ninth centuries. Prospective examination candidates, for example, would often begin by writing to a prospective patron asking for an audience, often sending compositions with or just after the letter (a practice known as xing juan 行卷). The compositions sent in advance could be augmented after the visit, and a copy was also required to be submitted to the examiner before the candidate sat for the examinations (a procedure known as na juan 拿卷).31 We can only imagine the difficulty of attracting the attention of the most eminent and busy patrons, or presiding examiners and their assistants, men such as Liang Su and Quan Deyu, without the benefit of introductions or preexisting connections. As Oliver Moore has noted, “When they did not know their hosts, Tang candidates operated amid a disconcerting world of polite estrangement.”32 One such self-promoting letter often commented on by scholars is that sent by Li Guan to Lu Zhi before Li’s success in the 792 examinations over which Lu presided. Li Guan politely reminds Lu Zhi that he had previously submitted a few minor pieces (a poem and a rhapsody), but that with this new letter, he was sending works that would demonstrate his greater literary range, including a letter on military matters, a eulogy, a record of a military feast, a description of a visit to the Temple of Confucius, two stele inscriptions, and two other letters.33 趙樹功, Zhongguo chidu wenxue shi 中國尺牘文學史 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe, 1999), 194. See also Mair, “Scroll Presentation,” 47–48. 31. See Fu’s discussion (drawing on Cheng 1980) of the difference between the xingjuan that were circulated less formally to prospective patrons and the najuan presented to the examiner at the Ministry of Rites (Tangdai keju, 259–64). Although most of his notes on the topic date from the second half of the ninth century, Wang Dingbao’s Tang zhi yan 唐摭言 includes anecdotes about the practice of seeking patrons for examinations, including stories about candidates’ faux pas. See Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 141–52. 32. Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 149. 33. QTW 533.16b–18a; see also Fu, Tangdai keju, 264–65; and Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 142–43.

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More remarkable than the range of genres Li included was his insistent question: “I wonder if you, Vice President, have had the chance to read through [a particular text] yet or not?” 不知侍郎嘗覽之耶, 未嘗覽之 耶?34 In addition to giving Lu a catalog of his work, Li Guan fills the letter with allusions to filiate himself to Lu Zhi’s intellectual interests, which surely furthered his case.35 Though less obsequious than other such letters, Li Guan’s text reveals the need for young men to be bold, specific, and persistent in promoting themselves. But even securing an influential patron early in one’s career did not guarantee success. In the following preface by Li Ao to his “Fu on Being Moved by Thoughts about My Patron” (Gan zhiji fu 感知己賦), we see that fate could sabotage even the most promising beginning: In Zhenyuan 9 [793], I first arrived in the capital as a tribute candidate for the examinations; in the ninth month of that year, I took all of my compositions and paid a visit to Right Rectifier of Omissions Mr. Liang of Anding.36 At that time, Mr. Liang’s word was influential throughout the world, and not a day went by but that he was flooded with men seeking the jinshi degree with compositions and who submitted them at his gates. Mr. Liang understood people’s failings,37 yet once he had given me an audience, he continued with me in the Way of people who truly know one another. He said that I had the “lingering air of the ancients,” and anticipating that my reputation would be eternally enduring, he assented with lavish praise. I first thought that it was just superficial support, and that I 34. See Ditter, “Genre and the Transformation of Tang Dynasty Writing,” 138, for another discussion of this letter. 35. Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 143 and n11; McMullen, State and Scholars, 62. One example of these allusions was his use of the statement Mencius attributed to Confucius, that “those who would fault me will do so from the Spring and Autumn; those who would know me will also do so through the Spring and Autumn” (Li reverses the order in which the phrases appear in the Mencius, 3B.9). Li suggests that he should be “known/understood particularly well” (te zhi 特知) by Lu in similar fashion. 36. Bian Xiaoxuan et al., eds., “Li Ao pingzhuan” 李翱評傳, in Han Yu pingzhuan 韓愈評傳(Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 1988), 483–85; JTS 160.4205–9; XTS 102.5280–83. 37. “Understood people’s failings” 知人之過 perhaps alludes to Zhuangzi, ch. 4, “In the Human World” 人間世: “His knowledge is sufficient to allow him to understand people’s failings, and yet he does not understand why they are at fault” 其知適足以知 人之過,而不知其所以過. Zhuangzi jiaoquan 莊子校詮, ed. Wang Shumin 王叔岷, vol. 1 (Taibei: Academia Sinica, 1988), 145.

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t wo had not yet been really favored by him. Then, in the eleventh month, Mr. Liang met with illness and passed away. As I went about with friends and officials, everyone said to me, “I’ve often heard your name from Omissioner Liang.” Only then did I understand that it was not merely superficial support. At that time, I felt that those candidates who were first to advance, in being especially solicitous in encountering people, all ought to share this feeling [the desire to promote the worthy]; I didn’t yet perceive the difficulty of finding one who appreciates and understands me [i.e, a true patron, a zhiji 知己]. Mr. Liang passed away five years ago now, during which time I’ve studied the meaning of the phrases and teachings of the sages’ documents, till I’ve composed tens of thousands of words, several times over what I first presented to Mr. Liang. Although I would not claim to have the same virtue as the ancients, I am not ashamed in my heart [of my own writing]. Each year [of the past four], I have taken the exam at the Ministry of Rites, and each time my compositions have been found wanting, my fame obscured by the tastes of the times, and everyone has said that this is certainly what I deserve. Only now do I understand that those who were first to advance, in being especially solicitous in encountering people, did not all share this feeling. Now, after this experience, I understand the difficulty of obtaining a patron. 貞元九年, 翺始就州府之貢舉人事. 其九月, 執文章一通, 謁於右補闕安 定梁君. 是時梁君之譽塞天下, 屬詞求進之士, 奉文章造梁君門下者, 蓋 無虛日, 梁君知人之過也. 亦既相見, 遂於翺有相知之道焉, 謂翺得古人 之遺風, 期翺之名不朽於無窮, 許翺以拂拭吹噓. 翺初謂面相進也, 亦 未幸甚. 十一月, 梁君遘疾而歿. 翱漸遊於朋友公卿間, 往往皆曰, 吾久 籍子姓名於補闕梁君也. 翺乃知非面相進也. 當時意謂先進者遇人特 達, 皆合有是心. 亦未謂知巳之難得也. 梁君歿於茲五年, 翺學聖人經籍教訓文句之旨, 而為文將數萬言, 愈 昔年見於梁君之文, 弗啻數倍. 雖不敢同德於古人, 然亦常無怍於中心. 每歲試於禮部, 連以文章罷黜. 聲光晦昧於時俗, 人皆謂之固宜. 然後知 先進者遇人特達, 亦不皆有是心也. 方知知巳之難得也.38

The term zhiji 知己 had a range of meaning in the Tang: although it could sometimes indicate a close friendship (which became its more common usage in later eras), in prose texts from the mid- and late Tang 38. QTW 634.1a–2b. See also Kunugi Tadashi 功刀正, ed., Ri Kō no kenkyū 李翱の 研究:資料編 (Tokyo: Hakuteisha, 1987), 13–15.

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we find it more often used, as here, to indicate the political, instrumental sense of “one who knows [my talent and potential].”39 The roots of the term lay in the Analects passages in which Confucius instructs his disciples not to worry about being known, but to seek to be worthy of being known, in which “being known” meant, as here, “being understood to be worthy of employ.”40 Li Ao’s avowed intent here is to praise his former patron Liang Su, who had been the assistant to Lu Zhi from 790 to 792, overseeing the “Dragon and Tiger” list of jinshi candidates in 792 that included Li Guan. But the text also provides an unusually panoramic view of the social dynamics of patron seeking and loss. Li Ao’s true reason for writing the preface and rhapsody does not emerge until the second section: once he lost his patron Liang Su, Li Ao failed to pass the examinations four years in a row. This text is thus intended to be yet another piece of self-advertisement in Li Ao’s portfolio. Rather than dwelling on the details of his own qualifications, which were implicitly affirmed by Liang Su’s patronage, and risking the charge of arrogance, Li Ao transforms the preface into a coming-of-age story in which he matures in his understanding of the “way of knowing one another” (xiang zhi zhi Dao 相知之道) practiced by Liang towards Li. The text also illustrates the visibility of the patron-client relationship in Chang’an within both vertical and horizontal networks. After 39. Of the seventy-three instances of the term zhiji I have found in the Tang prose texts of the Quan Tang wen and its supplements, fifty-eight of them date from the post-Rebellion period, and the vast majority of the instances clearly refer to someone regarded as a superior, a patron, or a person in a position to assist the writer. Furthermore, the rhetoric of the “true zhiji” seems to have been shared among mid-Tang literati associated with a revival of Ru ideas. The term is frequently used by Lu Zhi, Quan Deyu, Liang Su, Li Ao, Li Guan, Han Yu, and Liu Zongyuan (there are twenty-nine occurrences of the term in texts by these writers). The meaning of “patron” associated with zhiji is conveyed in texts that, for example, thank the zhiji, lament the inability to “encounter” (yu 遇 or feng 逢) a zhiji, and refer to being recommended (jian 薦) by a zhiji. Two late Tang texts providing evidence that the “patron” meaning was common later in the ninth century are Du Mu’s 杜牧 (803–52) “Letter Submitted to the Zhiji” 投 知己書, and his “Offering Letter Accompanying Literary Pieces Presented to the Zhiji” 上知己文章啓. Among the more than 200 instances of the term found in the Quan Tang shi, the balance of meaning seems more evenly distributed between the overtly flattering “patron” and that of “close friend,” though the connotations are often difficult to determine in poems. 40. See Analects 1.16, 4.14, 14.32, 15.18.

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Liang Su’s death, Li Ao encounters Liang’s approval on the lips of all the “friends and officials” (pengyou gongqing 朋友公卿) whom he goes about with. But Liang Su’s approval was not merely a social achievement; Li Ao represents himself as a follower of Liang’s ideas. Aside from being a high-ranking official, Liang was, with men such as Dugu Ji and Lu Zhi, an advocate of Ru values and of the kind of literary writing that claimed to draw on antiquity to order the world.41 Thus in one stroke, Li Ao deftly publicizes his former relationship with Liang Su, demonstrates his ability to master the rules of this complex social environment, and puts Liang’s assessment of his talent—that Li Ao possesses “the lingering air of the ancients”—back into circulation. Li Ao finally managed to pass the jinshi in the year of this composition, 798.42 Li Ao’s preface describes one rather unusual way that a young man without capital connections might create a good name (ming 名) to wield in the arena of literature, where examination candidates competed. His personal history also reveals the extent to which such a strategy was unstable, subject to unforeseeable setbacks. Less obvious is the way in which Li Ao critiques the system of preference. By reconsidering the meaning of zhiji, he exposes the shallow “understanding” of the people around him. As we saw Han Yu do in his letter for Hou Xi, Li Ao challenges others’ assessments by changing the terms of the debate; he presents himself (and Liang Su, his “knower”) as truthful, direct, and percipient in a society where people were all too easily swayed by current tastes.43 More radically, and in anticipation of arguments he would make later in his career, Li Ao claims that the ability to know, recognize, and understand the true value of others was not dependent on status or wealth but rather lay in one’s character. As we shall see in the following prefaces, letters, and poems, this was a common strategy for Han Yu, Meng Jiao, and Li Ao not only for describing themselves but 41. McMullen, State and Scholars, 245–46; see also Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 118–22. 42. See T. H. Barrett’s discussion of this episode in Li Ao: Buddhist, Taoist or Neo-Confucian? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 60–61. As Barrett notes, “the blatant appeal to the memory of Liang Su seems to have done the trick.” 43. Ditter has examined the rhetorical practice of the “third party interlocutor” in letters to patrons, arguing that the technique was extremely useful in providing praise of the letter-writer from “outside” the writer’s own perspective (“Genre and the Transformation of Tang Dynasty Writing,” 127–30).

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also for promoting their friends. In their best texts, their position was powerful and persuasive because it was not merely defensive. Instead, they responded to contemporary standards with a coherent set of counter-values, based on “the Way of antiquity,” that they defended again and again in a wide range of genres and exchanges. The network of texts they composed within their circle—intended to circulate beyond the circle—thus created a coherent, shared reputation that they could trade upon when they wished.

Selling Meng Jiao: Friendship and Patronage In one of the earliest datable poems in his corpus, Han Yu critiques the shallowness of social activities in the capital with one’s peers, specifically the practice of partying, or “going about together in company” (jiaoyou 交遊 or 交游). Those Who Go About Together in Chang’an: One Poem Sent to Meng Jiao 長安交游者贈孟郊

Han Yu 長安交遊者 貧富各有徒 親朋相過時 亦各有以娛 陋室有文史 高門有笙竽 何能辯榮悴 且欲分賢愚

Among those who go about together in Chang’an, the poor and the rich each have their fellows. When close comrades come to visit, each set has something to suit their pleasure. In the rooms of the humble, there are literature and history; within the gates of the mighty, there are pipes and fifes. How can you distinguish the prospering from the worndown? I’d rather separate the worthy from the fools.44

From the opening couplet through the last line, Han Yu’s poem advertises his opinion of superficial capital society. He is not merely 44. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:5–6; Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:10–11. See also Owen, Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü, 41–42.

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making distinctions among kinds of individual friends—separating the “beneficial” from the “detrimental” companions on the basis of their particular amusements—but as we saw him do in the letter for Hou Xi, he is also recasting the values of “humble” and “worthy” for his own purposes. The title signals that Han Yu does not find fault with the activity of jiaoyou itself (as his own texts and those of his friends attest, he was fond of pleasure outings and drinking) but with its varying quality. By the close, Han Yu has explained that the “pleasures” (yu 娛) of his circle of worthies were the study of literature and history in the company of one’s “fellows” (tu 徒)—with the implication that Han liked to serve as the master of ceremonies—rather than the seeking of other kinds of pleasure with a band of roving young men. When linked with Han Yu’s portrayal of himself and others in his circle in letters of 795 as men who “are unable to go along with the times,”45 this poem gives us an early glimpse of the position Han Yu developed throughout his first years in Chang’an and later in Bianzhou in the company of Meng Jiao, Zhang Ji, and Li Ao. Han Yu’s interest in differentiation as a strategy for promoting himself has been well documented by other scholars; but fewer scholars have studied the extent to which Han Yu used texts in many genres to promote the talents and interests of his friends. The small number of companions they depicted as belonging to the circle mattered: no matter what the size of his group might have been, the use of “my two or three fellows” 二三子 implied the notion of an exclusive set of men drawn together in a common pursuit. However, if they wished their compositions to be taken seriously as signs of literary and intellectual talent rather than as the posturing of gadflies or clowns, Han and his circle needed to define themselves in more concrete terms, and to explain their esteem for one another on the basis of something more substantial than personal liking.46 The task then became how to turn their self-defined “worthy” 45. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1241. 46. The letter from Pei Du to Li Ao in which Pei complains about Han Yu’s lack of seriousness is the best piece of evidence that Han Yu ran the risk of being seen as clownish or merely outrageous. Zhang Ji’s famous criticism of Han’s behavior in his two letters of 799 also suggests that Han’s levity threatened his reputation. The Pei Du letter cannot be dated reliably, but most scholars believe it to be relatively early (perhaps late Zhenyuan reign) in Han’s career. QTW 538.5461–62. See Hartman, Han Yü, 367n109, for a summary of the relevant discussions of the letter.

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companionship into usable social connections and, ultimately, official positions. To shed light on the ways in which they worked to build this reputation, we can examine a cluster of texts that Han Yu and his friends wrote to recommend the talents of Meng Jiao in the years from the 790s to the early 800s. For Han, Li Ao, Zhang Ji, Meng Jiao, and Li Guan, these years were intellectually fruitful if frustrating in terms of career progress; despite the fact that Han and Li Guan both passed the jinshi examination in 792 (and Meng failed), Han Yu’s three-time failure in the subsequent boxue hongci exam meant that he was stuck in place. Among the members of this group, Li Guan’s family background and early success was most notable.47 He passed the jinshi in the famous “Dragon and Tiger List” with Han Yu, under Liang Su’s tutelage. His literary and political promise were never realized, however, due to his early death in 796 at age twenty-eight.48 Meng Jiao’s career, on the other hand, was completely stalled by his continued failure to pass the jinshi. In 792, Meng Jiao was a forty-one-year-old provincial candidate (xianggong 鄉 貢) from the southeast who arrived in Chang’an for the jinshi examination with few influential family connections or patrons to rely upon. From the evidence of his own texts and texts about him, it seems that he had only poetry with which to recommend himself. To illustrate some of the available strategies for promoting Meng Jiao, first I examine a letter by Li Guan from either late 792 or early 793 that recommends Meng Jiao and another candidate to Liang Su, which must have been written just before Liang’s death. Next I turn to a 792 poem by Han Yu praising Meng Jiao, and a letter from Li Ao to the military governor Zhang Jianfeng 張建封 (734–800) recommending Meng 47. Li Guan’s dates are proposed by Cen Zhongmian 岑仲俛in Tangji zhiyi, in his Tangren hangdi lu (wai sanzhong) 唐人行第錄 : 外三種 (Shanghai, 1962), 430–34. Cited in Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 88n34. The Xin Tang shu gives his clan affiliation as the Zhaojun Li, but Han Yu gives Longxi Li in his funerary text; Peter Bol has suggested that the editors confused Li Guan with another protégé of Liang Su’s. Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 366n106. 48. Despite his early death, there are a surprising number and variety of texts extant in his corpus: fifty-two pieces in four juan of the QTW (juan 532–35). Han Yu composed Li Guan’s entombed epitaph, in which he describes how he and Cui Hongli, Li Guan’s “friends” 友人, took on the responsibilities of burial and textual commemoration. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1214–19.

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and others; and finally, I consider Han Yu’s famous parting preface for Meng Jiao of 801, in which he attempts a more lyrical and ideological defense of Meng, Zhang Ji, and Li Ao. These written efforts by his fellow literati to promote Meng Jiao should be woven into the history of their own individual quests for position, which were occurring simultaneously. In 795, frustrated by his failure to advance, Han Yu submitted his famous letters to the grand councilors, a bold attempt to gain a position by selling himself at the top of the hierarchy. In 796, having failed in these efforts to win a post in the capital, he went to Bianzhou to serve in the administration of Dong Jin, where he remained until 799. In this same period of time, Meng Jiao failed the jinshi again twice but finally passed in 796; after traveling for some months afterward, he joined Han Yu in Bianzhou in 797.49 We know from the preface to his rhapsody that Li Ao had also failed to pass the jinshi for several years before 793. Then between 794 and 795, Li Ao traveled first to Xuzhou, where he met Zhang Jianfeng, and then to Bianzhou, where he became a permanent member of Han Yu’s close circle. It was due to Han Yu’s tutelage that Li Ao finally passed the jinshi examination in 798.50 Thus we have a substantial pattern of interaction, recommendation, and mutual admiration in texts exchanged between Han and Meng from at least 792, texts by Li Guan composed before his death in 794, and texts exchanged among Han, Meng, Li Ao, and Zhang Ji from 796 on. Although the evidence for the efficacy of any of these texts—that is, their success in landing patrons or positions for author or subject—is sometimes scarce, their coherence reveals a core rhetoric and ideology about talent and individual worth that their authors were developing over time, in personal and literary conversation with one another. Behind the strategies adopted in these texts lay an argument drawn from Ru sources, the Analects most influentially, aimed at defending the practice of individual recommendations of the worthy and “those whom one knew” to those in power. Allusions to Analects 13.2 often appear in such discussions: Zhonggong, who was serving as a steward for the Ji Family, asked the Master about governance. 49. Meng Jiao shi ji jiaozhu, 539–59. 50. Bian et al., “Li Ao ping zhuan,” 472–74.

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The Master said, “First appoint your supervising officials, then overlook their petty faults and promote those who are worthy and talented.” “How can I recognize those who are worthy and talented so that I can promote them?” “Just promote the ones you know. As for those whom you do not know, will others allow them to be passed over?” 仲弓為季氏宰, 問政.子曰: 先有司, 赦小過, 舉賢才. 曰: 焉知賢才而舉之? 曰:舉爾所知, 爾所不知, 人其舍諸?51

In the case of Meng Jiao, defending the worth and talent of the person who was “known” and praised by this group of letter and preface writers presented a number of challenges. In addition to his advanced age and failure to pass the examinations, Meng Jiao apparently had no prose of any significance and was known exclusively as a poet, and a difficult one at that. In the letter to his patron Liang Su recommending Meng, we see how Li Guan attempts simultaneously to flatter Liang, praise Meng Jiao and Cui Hongli, another candidate, and deprecate his own abilities, while using the humilific language and arguments common to such letters. When I had not yet made my name, you looked down from on high and praised me, such that others both near and far thought that I was a student in your gates. But how could taking the role of a student at your gates and living up to what had been said be called a simple or trivial matter? Did I truly dare to hope for it? Did I truly not dare to hope for it? Still, every time I think of gentlemen whose abilities are greater than mine, I recommend them to you, relying on your profound understanding of virtue. I always have this in mind. Now, [I present] one Meng Jiao and one Cui Hongli, who have both arrived at the examination field. They are isolated and without companions. They each have attempted the examinations many times, which is truly lamentable. Of Meng’s poetry, the best of his pentametric verse has no match in antiquity. In even his merely good verse, he is greater than the two Xies. 然觀嘗以未成名前, 高見揄揚, 遠邇之人以觀為執事門生. 然作公門生, 當人此言, 豈曰易乎? 豈曰蕩乎? 誠敢望耶? 誠不敢望耶? 然每思念士有 51. Translation modified from Slingerland, 138–39. Han Yu cites this particular Analects passage in his letter recommending ten men to Lu San. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu 3:1513–21; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:892–905.

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勝己者, 而上薦之執事, 以恃知德之深也. 常用為心. 今有孟郊者, 有崔宏 禮者, 俱在舉場. 靜而無徒, 各以累舉, 可嗟甚焉. 孟之詩, 五言高處, 在 古無二. 其有平處, 下顧兩謝.52

This portrait of Meng Jiao as the talented but solitary and overlooked poet of genius became the standard defense for those who sought to promote him. To this description of Meng as a poet, Li Guan later adds a few lines that praise Meng’s wen as a whole (though not referring to particular texts), stating that his works were “extraordinary” (qi 奇) and that his actions were “pure” (zhen 貞). Li’s argument is simple: given that Meng and Cui were so unjustly ignored despite their manifest talents, Liang Su’s support of them in the examinations would be a disinterested and therefore even more virtuous act. Liang would be known as the man who had “crafted” (jiang 匠) the two men for success. Li Guan’s recommendation thus appeals to Liang’s pride: just as I have succeeded in winning acclaim as a “student of your gates,” he implies, these men will do the same. It is not clear to what extent Liang Su might have known or appreciated Meng Jiao’s talents. However, in the 792 examinations, when Liang Su served as assistant to Lu Zhi, Li Guan and Han passed but Meng Jiao did not, a fact Meng commemorated in a morose poem addressed to Li and Han.53 In his letter, Li Guan does not attempt to link himself with Meng Jiao in social terms; a posture of impartial assessment seems to have been necessary for writing to a patron he had only just recently acquired, and Li and Meng had also not been acquainted for long.54 However, Han Yu felt no such restraint in his several poems from the 790s in praise of Meng Jiao, taking full advantage of the occasions to articulate ideas the two men shared and to describe the depth of their attachment. Unlike prose letters of recommendation, the rhetorical posture of a poem addressed to Meng 52. QTW 534.2b–3b. 53. Meng Jiao shi ji jiaozhu, 328–30. 54. Meng had advanced as a provincial tribute candidate in 791 and thus had only recently arrived in Chang’an. See the “fulu” in Meng Jiao shi ji jiaozhu, 538–39. Even in his short life, however, Li Guan seems to have been quite interested in friendship both on a personal level and in the abstract; in his “Discussion of the Difficulty of [Making] Connections” 交難說 (QTW 535.1a–2a) and “Epitaph for an Old Friend” 故人墓誌 (QTW 535.12a–14a), he reflects on the qualities of true friendship and laments its rarity.

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gave Han Yu much more freedom in which to praise lavishly, with less concern for social positioning or even rational claims. Han Yu’s “Poem To/ About Master Meng” 孟生詩, cited by Li Guan in his letter, is the earliest extant text to laud Meng Jiao as a champion of “antiquity.”55 At this time, Han was beginning to explore in verse some problems that deeply interested him—most importantly here the relationship of “antiquity” to the composition of poetry. The unusually long (fifty-four-line) poem is an early attempt at narrative verse,56 and in it Han Yu engages “antiquity” both topically and stylistically. Aside from repeating the term gu no fewer than four times in the first four lines, Han Yu experiments with prose-like syntactic structures, uses parallel constructions infrequently, and sprinkles particles and pronouns somewhat inconsistently throughout, in an effort to create an archaic tone. Just as Han mocked the shallowness of the wealthy who “go about in Chang’an,” the lexical and linguistic choices of this poem stand as a challenge to the smoothness of regulated verse, the poetic standard for the examinations and elite social exchange. As in that earlier poem, he opens with an air of complete confidence in his understanding of Meng and of the meaning of “antiquity”: 孟生江海士 古貌又古心 嘗讀古人書 謂言古猶今 作詩三百首 窅默咸池音

Master Meng is a gentleman of rivers and seas, of ancient mien and ancient heart. He has so often read the books of the ancients one may say that for him antiquity is like today. He has written poems, three hundred in number: profound and obscure are the tones of the Xian Pool [Collection].57

The jarring effect of the repeated gu in the opening nearly obscures Han Yu’s point, which he clarifies in the third couplet: Meng Jiao has so fully realized “antiquity” that his poems are naturally like the original

55. Two further examples of poems praising Meng are “Drunk, Detaining Dongye [Meng Jiao]” 醉留東野 and “Recommending Gentlemen” 薦士; Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1: 36–38, 1: 355–63; Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 58, 527. 56. Owen, Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü, 42. 57. Han Yu may have given this title to Meng’s collection, after the name of a musical piece attributed to the Yellow Emperor. See Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:8 n4.

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“three hundred poems” themselves, the Odes. But Han Yu goes on to record Meng Jiao’s failure to find an audience, and he even suggests that this kind of person is perhaps misguided in even seeking a place in the capital: 舉頭看白日 泣涕下霑襟 朅來遊公卿 莫肯低華簪

He raised his head to look at the bright sun, and wept tears that soaked his collar. He went about paying visits to ministers and officials, but none would lower their elegant hairpins to see him.

Han Yu’s portrait of Meng’s desperate search for patronage first depicts Meng as an object of pity and commiseration, an extreme example of the talented man who languishes unappreciated. But then Han turns to question the very enterprise of seeking a post through the examinations, and suggests that Meng, with his special talent, is being wasted in the brutal quest for advancement: 奈何從進士 此路轉嶇嶔 異質忌處群 孤芳難寄林

Why would one seek the jinshi? This path winds about precipitous peaks. One of unique substance scorns to be stuck in the crowd; the lone fragrant one finds it hard to lodge in the forest.

Han Yu closes by pointing Meng Jiao towards the patronage of Zhang Jianfeng, the military governor of Xuzhou. Han recommends Zhang Jianfeng to Meng in the same high terms he has just employed for his friend: “I spoke [to Meng] of the Shepherd of Xu [i.e., Zhang]: / for his love of antiquity, all under heaven admire him” 我論徐方牧, 好古 天下欽.58 By attributing to Zhang (whether truthfully or speciously) the broad intellectual, literary, and moral foundation of gu that he and Meng share, Han attempts to incorporate the potential patron into their circle. With this long poem, he announces his current literary and intellectual concerns, praises Meng, serves as his friend’s stern but dedicated advisor, and flatters Zhang Jianfeng, thereby rhetorically uniting the three of them in the virtuous enterprise of “using” a worthy man. The fact of

58. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:6–11; Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:12–18.

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Han’s friendship with Meng Jiao is here subordinated to the greater goal of promoting Meng’s talent and interests. A few years later, in yet another text written on Meng Jiao’s behalf, a letter addressed to Zhang Jianfeng, Li Ao takes great pains to detail his acquaintance with Meng and, more importantly, to examine the grounds on which he is able to recommend his friend to others.59 The letter has been preserved with the title “Recommending Those Whom I Know to Zhang [Jianfeng] of Xuzhou” 薦所知於徐州張僕射書, a title that aptly states Li Ao’s intent, alludes to the important Analects passage concerning recommendation, and clarifies his status as “knower” of the three men he discusses in the letter—Meng, Zhang Ji, and Li Jingjian 李景儉 (jinshi 799). Li Ao takes a more explicitly ideological approach than did Li Guan: he opens in a sweeping manner, grounding his recommendation in the historical importance of trust and fidelity (xin), and knowing people so as to employ the worthy (yongxian 用賢) correctly, as illustrated by the story of the Warring States Duke Heng of Qi and his advisor Guan Zhong, among others. He appeals to Zhang Jianfeng’s rank and his understanding of the patterns of history: “Therefore, those who occupy the seats of power and shed the benefits of their virtue upon the people—what do they labor most to do? They labor to select the worthy, so that when they find such men and place them above, all the world is transformed thereby” 然則居上位流德澤於百姓者, 何所勞乎? 勞於擇賢, 得其人措諸上, 使天下皆化之焉而已矣.60 In his status as a low-ranking peer of the men he is presenting to Zhang (Li Ao was at this time in Bianzhou with Han Yu, though unemployed), Li Ao must also defend his own credentials as a recommender and a “knower.” Li Ao implies that both Li Guan and Han Yu had achieved some fame but had no luck with Zhang: “For you to have learned about both of them and yet not to have been able to use either of them, I find truly regrettable for you!” 執事皆得而知之, 皆不得而用 之, 翱實為執事惜焉, Li Ao says.61 In this letter, however, Li Ao has new 59. The letter cannot be dated precisely, but it must have been written between 796, when Li Ao was first acquainted with Zhang in Xuzhou, and 799, when Zhang fell ill (and died in 800). See Bian et al., “Li Ao ping zhuan,” 473–75. 60. QTW 635.19a. 61. See Ditter, “Genre and the Transformation of Tang Dynasty Writing,” 122.

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men to propose for Zhang’s consideration, and Meng Jiao comes in for the bulk of the praise: Here [recommended in this letter] we have Meng Jiao of Pingchang, who is a pure gentleman. I have heard that you have known about him for a long time. Meng Jiao’s composition of pentametric poetry is such that he encompasses all the styles of poets since Li Ling and Su Wu of the former Han, the Jian’an talents, and the two Xie [Lingyun and Tiao] of the Southern Dynasties. When recommending Jiao to Omissioner Liang [Su], Li Guan said, “Meng Jiao’s pentametric verse at its best is unmatched since antiquity; his ordinary poems are greater than those of the two Xies.” Han Yu has a poem sending off Jiao that says, “He has written poems, three hundred in number: / profound and obscure are the tones of the Xian Pool [Collection].” These two men [Li Guan and Han Yu] were both knowledgeable about language—how could they deceive the people of the world? Jiao suffers adversity and hunger, and he has been unable to securely provide for his kin, traveling everywhere but failing to find a place. He wrote a poem that says, “Eating weeds, my guts feel more bitter; / I force out a song, but its sound has no pleasure. / When I go out, there are obstacles, / so who could say that Heaven and Earth are broad [and full of opportunity]?” His hardship is this extreme! 茲有平昌孟郊, 貞士也. 伏聞執事舊知之. 郊為五言詩, 自前漢李都尉蘇 屬國及建安諸子南朝二謝, 郊能兼其體而有之. 李觀薦郊於梁肅補闕書 曰, 郊之五言, 其有高處, 在古無上, 其有平處, 下顧二謝. 韓愈送郊詩曰, 作詩三百首, 杳默咸池音. 彼二子皆知言者, 豈欺天下之人哉? 郊窮餓不 得安養其親, 周天下無所遇. 作詩曰, 食薺腸亦苦, 強歌聲無歡. 出門如 有閡, 誰謂天地寬? 其窮也甚矣!62

Li Ao continues with a tightly woven Confucian argument about the need for those in power to distinguish and employ the worthy, and about the rare occasions when the truly worthy encounter discriminating officials. He adds, for good measure, the suggestion that “no one can predict in future years” whether Meng “could be taken up by some other man, and become greatly established in the world, or live out a short life

62. QTW 635.19b. The lines cited are the opening lines from Meng’s “Presented to Cui Chunliang” 贈崔純亮, dated to 793, composed after another failure to pass the jinshi. Meng Jiao shiji jiaozhu, 267–70.

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and die—neither of these [possibilities] can be known” 郊將為他人之 所得而大有立於世, 與其短命而死, 皆不可知也.63 Li Ao concludes by saying that if Zhang does not “use” Meng, it is Zhang’s loss, since he, Li, has made the strongest argument possible. Note that Li Ao recycles phrases and images from earlier recommendations of Meng Jiao: he cites Li Guan’s letter to Liang Su directly, refers to Meng Jiao’s poems with the same description used by Han Yu in the “Poem to Master Meng,” and finally cites directly from one of Meng’s poems (which presumably would have been enclosed with the letter, along with other poems by Meng). In writing this and other texts that praised Meng Jiao on the basis of this coherent set of values—reverence for antiquity, sincerity, resolution in the face of hardship, direct speaking—the members of the group were also solidifying their positions, drawing the circle of acquaintance tighter, and hoping to gain recognition for all. The decade following Han Yu’s triumph in the 792 jinshi examination was filled with obstacles and difficulties for many of the group, however, including Li Guan’s death in 794 at the age of twenty-eight, which Han Yu, writing as Li’s friend (youren 友人), commemorated in his epitaph.64 After failing in the selection examinations, Han Yu finally obtained an unranked position as a judge (tuiguan 推官)65 in the office of Dong Jin, the military governor of Bianzhou, in 797, where Li Ao and Zhang Ji soon joined him. Meng Jiao, who finally had passed the jinshi in 796, was unable to gain a post and joined the company in Bianzhou in 797 as well. Under Han’s tutelage there, Li and Zhang both prepared to take the jinshi and passed, Li in 798 and Zhang in 799. But in 799, the troops at the garrison at Bianzhou rebelled, killing Dong Jin and occupying the town, and Han Yu and his family barely escaped the violence, fleeing to Xuzhou and the court of Zhang Jianfeng. At Zhang’s court, Han Yu assumed a secretarial post for a year (Li Ao visited him and married his niece in 800), a period of time in which he was frustrated and bored. The circle was then scattered, and Han Yu assumed his first post 63. Ibid., 635.21a. 64. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1214–19; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1637–45. 65. As Hartman notes (Han Yü, 35), this position did not confer rank in the ninerank system (because of his success in the jinshi, Han already had rank but no post), and therefore Han was also appointed nominally to the position of editor in the Imperial Library (jiaoshulang 校書郎) and given the lowest possible rank, r. 9, fourth class.

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of significance in 801, in the Imperial College in Chang’an. During that time, Meng Jiao was still unable to obtain office; his failure must have seemed all the more complete in the face of his advanced age (nearing fifty), his poverty, and the relative narrowness of his literary abilities. The efforts of the group had produced little concrete result. Han Yu’s famous prose farewell (songxu 送序) to Meng of 801, “Preface Seeing Off Meng Dongye,” takes an approach to defending his companions that is broader, more historically aware, and grounded in a new view of Heaven, going well beyond Li Ao’s Confucian utilitarian arguments (“using the worthy”) or even his own commitment to Meng’s air of “antiquity.” The farewell preface begins with a historical review of the premise that all phenomena and people “call out” or “sound forth” (ming 鳴) to express their conditions when thrown off balance. Han draws examples from the workings of wind upon water and the sounds of insects in autumn, tracing the act of “sounding forth” down through the sages of antiquity, and reaching to the great writers of the past and present. In the conclusion, Han Yu integrates his historical, literary, and social arguments to claim his companions Meng Jiao, Li Ao, and Zhang Ji as contemporary examples of worthy men who are “sounding forth” without yet being heard or recognized.66 He places Meng Jiao in exalted company: Since the Tang came into possession of all under Heaven, Chen Zi’ang, Su Yuanming, Yuan Jie, Li Bai, Du Fu, and Li Guan all had that about which they sounded forth. One who comes after them is Meng Jiao, style name Dongye, who is sounding forth with his poetry. His greatest pieces go beyond [the poetry of] the Wei or Jin, as he ceaselessly strives towards antiquity; the rest approach that of the Han. Among those who go about with me, Li Ao and Zhang Ji are the most outstanding. The sounding forth of these three fellows is truly great, and yet I wonder if Heaven will harmonize with their tunes, and will permit them to sound forth the flourishing of the state? Or will [Heaven] impoverish and starve their bodies, fill their hearts with sorrow and reflection, and make them sound forth about their own misfortune? The fate of these three is held by Heaven. If they are highly placed, how could they be happy—if they are placed 66. For another translation and analysis of this preface, see Hartman, Han Yü, 230–33.

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in low posts, why should they grieve? Since Dongye seems discontent at going off to serve in the South, I have said [i.e., explained in this preface] that it is commanded by Heaven in order to set his mind at ease. 唐之有天下, 陳子昂、蘇源明、元結、李白、杜甫、李觀皆以其所能鳴. 其 存而在下者, 孟郊東野以其詩鳴. 其高出魏晉, 不懈而及於古, 其他浸淫 乎漢氏矣. 從吾遊者,李翱、張籍其尤者也. 三子者之鳴信善矣. 抑不知 天將和其聲而使鳴國家之盛 邪? 抑將窮餓其身, 思愁其心腸, 而使自鳴 其不幸邪? 三子者之命, 則懸乎天矣. 其在上也奚以喜, 其在下也奚以悲? 東野之役於江南也, 有若不釋然者. 故吾道其命於天者以解之.67

As with his poem to Meng Jiao, Han Yu wrote this preface with many purposes in mind. It serves the instrumental function of praise and recommendation for Meng, Li Ao, and Zhang Ji, and therefore is appropriate to circulate among prospective patrons. At the same time, Han Yu takes this occasion to examine the connection between human conditions and their literary responses: he explicitly links adversity to the quality of one’s accomplishment, beginning with Confucius and ending with Meng and his companions. Han Yu adopts a remarkably catholic view of the genres of “sounding forth” of his historical exemplars; simply because Meng Jiao uses poetry to express himself does not make him any more or less valuable than his ancient predecessors. On the contrary, Han Yu’s filiation of Meng Jiao and earlier Tang poets to a long cultural heritage that includes Sima Qian, Qu Yuan, and the poets of the Shi jing is intended to recast Meng’s talent in an entirely new light. Here Meng is no longer, as we saw in Li Ao’s letter, merely a talented poet of verse in the pentasyllabic line; instead, he is a member of a pantheon of those who “sounded forth” out of moral conflict. In this text ostensibly addressed to Meng Jiao, Han Yu can abandon the rhetorical strategies of earlier recommendation letters—in which he, Li Guan, and Li Ao had to display their knowledge of the persons they were recommending and their praise of the addressees’ intelligence— and propose a more sweeping theory of cultural value. The belief that hardship was morally redemptive, a fire that hardened one’s resolve and sharpened one’s talent, was one that Han Yu had invoked before when he described himself in his letters to the grand councilors of 795, or in 67. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1464–73; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1074–97.

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his description of Meng Jiao’s poetry. Here, however, by linking humble suffering more directly to cultural and literary achievement, Han Yu creates a lineage of “sounding forth” for Meng and the others that attributes a noble purpose to their obscurity. Moreover, in his account of Confucius, Han Yu creates a role for himself: “After the Zhou had declined, Confucius’s disciples sounded forth/praised him, and their sound was great and far-reaching. As it was transmitted [in the Analects], ‘Heaven is going to use your Master as a wooden clapper.’ Was this not indeed true?” 周之衰, 孔子之徒鳴之, 其聲大而遠. 傳曰, 天將以夫子為木鐸. 其弗信矣乎?68 By praising Meng Jiao, Han Yu takes on the role of one who is shan ming 善鳴, “good at sounding forth,” and implies that he is acting as the “clapper” who will arouse the world with his ideas. The preface also takes a new turn in the discourse of “knowledge” and “knowing others” so vehemently argued in recommendation letters. Though he speculates on the men’s futures, Han Yu concedes that their fates lie with Heaven, thus outside his full knowledge. However, he concludes by claiming to explain the values of the past and Heaven’s workings to Meng Jiao and, by extension, all the readers of the preface. The epistemological conclusion of this argument, though not fully elaborated in the preface, is subtle: Han Yu implies that he can directly and individually apprehend the Dao of the sages, not simply as it existed in the past but as it is manifest today in men known to him.69 These early poems, letters, prefaces, and other texts by Han Yu and his circle in defense of Meng Jiao reveal a web of social connections, political striving, and intellectual exploration with multiple audiences and goals. Recalling the structure of competition for posts in the delicate early years after the examinations, we must acknowledge how counter-intuitive, even risky, it was for these men to promote Meng so strenuously. There was almost no potential gain in recommending an older poet from the southeast, someone who had only passed the jinshi late in life after many failures, with no distinguished family background, marriage connections, or any wealth, and with only an iconoclastic if powerful talent to his name. We could speculate that there was some benefit to Han Yu, Li Guan, and Li Ao in circulating their 68. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1464; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1075. 69. See Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 125–31.

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well-written texts about Meng to prospective patrons or other readers, in that they thereby advertised their literary abilities and intellectual interests to a broader readership; yet their deep commitment to Meng transcended shallow instrumentality, and it endured even after his death. The texts they composed with and about one another succeeded in mapping out a collective identity, one to which they all contributed and that they differentiated from others of their age, as well as a rhetorical space in which they could advocate new ideas concerning knowledge, antiquity, and the value of wen. As this identity became better established through texts and social association, other literati, such as Han Yu’s later students and followers, could also participate by invoking the same rhetoric, adopting similar intellectual positions, and claiming acquaintance with members of the group. Although they began their acquaintance in the search for mutual aid, over time Han Yu and his companions came to discover more complex meanings in their intellectual, literary, and personal fellowship.

Becoming Bai Juyi: Friendship and Celebrity The need aspiring literati felt to distinguish themselves amid a throng of competitors pervades the patron-seeking letters and plaintive poems of the mid-Tang period, and it even appears in critiques of literati conduct and style, some of which were written by the aspirants themselves. In his letter to prospective patron Chen Jing in 800 (also cited in chapter 1), Bai Juyi not only boasts of his literary ability but also attempts to turn his lack of recommendations or connections into assets, another way of setting himself apart from the crowd: Now those who request an audience at the Rectifier of Omission’s gates are like trees in a forest, and those who present their texts to you are like clouds—they are numerous, but merely numerous. If you listen to their words, they are all the same words; if you observe their intention, they are all the same intention. What is it? Uniformly, it does not go beyond the hope of puffing themselves up and preening [before you]. I, Juyi, am not this way. The reason I do not request an audience but only offer up my

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texts is simply that I wish to submit that which [will prove] my sincerity, and to substantiate that which might be doubted. It is not like the crowd of literati who seek to puff themselves up and preen. 伏以給事門屏間請謁者如林, 獻書者如雲, 多則多矣. 然聽其辭, 一辭 也, 觀其意, 一意也. 何者? 率不過有望於吹噓翦拂耳. 居易則不然. 今 所以不請謁而奉書者, 但欲貢所誠, 質所疑而已. 非如眾士有求於吹噓 翦拂也.70

The key rhetorical strategy Bai adopts here is to downplay the importance of the face-to-face encounter and showcase his texts—rather than his person or social connections—as the best evidence of his quality. Although Bai Juyi’s sketch of his competitors is certainly exaggerated, it does illuminate a basic fact of mid-Tang literary culture: its dominant social and political practices were indeed aimed at reinforcing conformity to conventions of all kinds. Even if they were often honored in the breach rather than the observance, the formal and informal procedures of the Tang examination system and bureaucracy were intended to recruit, promote, and evaluate men regularly on the basis of narrow standards of social background, conduct, and achievement. Modified over the decades of the dynasty, the body of state rituals and social activities in which literati participated served to reinforce those standards and, by extension, to sustain a range of stable collective public identities. To take again the example of the xuan process, candidates who presented themselves for selection to office were required at the first stage to present a dossier that contained, among other items, the names and offices of men in their patriline; information about relatives by marriage; physical appearance; and the details of their previous assessment records and/or their previous examination degree. The subsequent assessment demanded that the candidate not only compose “judgments” (pan 判) but also demonstrate good calligraphy (shu 書), “deportment” (shen 身), and “speech” (yan 言), which included clothing, comportment, and refinement of address and accent.71 This as-

70. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2776–77. 71. The subsequent stages of the assessment tested “virtuous conduct” (dexing 德行), “talent” (cai 才), and “acquired merit” (lao 勞). See Robert des Rotours, Le Traité des Examens, traduit de la “Nouvelle Histoire des T’ang” (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1932; rpt. San

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sessment could be particularly hard on provincial candidates like Bai; though intelligence and good training could level the playing field for the first two qualifications, candidates might not easily attain the kind of “deportment” that suited capital mores or even be able to disguise a strong regional accent or style of speech. Beyond this initial stage in the process, seeking and attaining office in the Tang required men to perform a succession of roles in a ritual and bureaucratic script that had been enacted for decades, even centuries. Aspiring mid-Tang officials were required both to distinguish themselves within the confines of available cultural forms and to uphold appropriate ritual and social norms. Literary writing was the one sphere in which innovation appears to have been allowed, if not officially encouraged.72 This feature of Tang culture had an enormous impact on the ways in which literati created and advertised their social networks over the course of a lifetime. Through formal and informal interactions, the examination practices of the ninth century created visible, cohesive peer groups at the early stages of careers; successive offices then provided new peer groups and social identities. Friendships and circles grew naturally out of the cohorts and official bodies through which one moved over time. The scholar Ma Zili has recently examined the ways that successive posts shaped the social roles (shehui juese 社會角色) of mid-Tang literati and the influence of those roles on the writing that literati produced over time. The fact that mid-Tang officials were so extraordinarily mobile over their careers and had to adapt rapidly to changing social and political contexts, even enduring unexpected demotions, placed a high premium on adaptability and a greater dependence on private reading and composition, and it increased their efforts to maintain social connections through writing.73 In general, he argues, capital positions closer

Francisco: Chinese Materials Center, 1976), 43–44; Herbert, Examine the Honest, 31–35. See also Tackett’s comments on the advantages that capital-based elites likely held in these areas of assessment, Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, 133–34. 72. Denis Twitchett has argued that even in the compositions produced for Tang examinations, there was a surprising amount of latitude in content and style, as well as no prescribed interpretation of the Classics, particularly in comparison with the postSong standards. Twitchett, The Birth of the Chinese Meritocracy: Bureaucrats and Examinations in T’ang China (London: The China Society, 1976), 13. 73. Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 8–24. Individual chapters focus on the Hanlin,

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to the emperor and his ministers tended to promote more conservative writing and debate, whereas prefectural posts, which were much lower in prestige, allowed greater literary and intellectual freedom, and also encouraged specific forms of writing, such as letters, “accounts,” exchange verse, and other genres that emphasized encounter and exchange.74 Ma also highlights the seriousness with which mid-Tang officials discussed their official duties, something that distinguishes the period from, for example, the corrupt and cynical climate of the 830s and beyond. Much research remains to be done on the ideology of the Tang bureaucracy and the subcultures of particular offices over time; however, it is clear that the “roles” that mid-Tang officials learned to play would have created strong bonds and a shared sense of identity among men who served in the same locations and posts. Extensive historical scholarship on the Tang examination system gives us the best view of how state ritual and patron-sponsored social activities worked together to create collective identities even at the very beginning of an official career. In his analysis of the ritual events in the examination calendar, including the seasonal presentation of candidates, the wine-drinking ceremony, and ceremonies of gratitude and feasting after examination success (or failure), Oliver Moore has demonstrated some of the ways that this ritual behavior shaped relationships among literati. Some of the rituals, such as the presentation of candidates, were highly public and visible; others, such as the ceremony of gratitude (xie’en 謝恩) that successful candidates performed before their examiners, were more private, selective, and intense. Moore writes of the ceremony of gratitude: A rite of passage allowed to a privileged few, it held forth to the graduand at the start of his political career the prospect of forging a close tie with a major political figure. It is no surprise that this highly personalized cere-

bureau chief positions, remonstrance posts, and prefectural posts. Although Ma’s approach is nominally sociological, he tends to conflate the social and political in his analyses of these roles. 74. Aside from the obvious differences in topics one could write on in different posts, the kind of office one held also affected form and style. One example that Ma discusses in his chapter on the Hanlin is the continued dominance of pianwen in official prose documents, versus the freer prose styles allowed in informal writing. Ibid., 53–57.

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monial gathering fostered an emotional attachment far more intense than the grand public ceremonies earlier in the programme.75

Here, Moore emphasizes the influential bond between patron and client, but the shared performance of the rite by the cohort of graduands would also have underscored their membership in an elite group. Although young men shifted roles as individuals in the process of these rites of passage—a tribute candidate from the far southeast would take on an entirely new identity as a jinshi graduand, for example—the roles themselves were fairly static and changed slowly over the course of the Tang.76 After examination results were posted, subsequent spring feasts and banquets continued to celebrate and affirm the men’s entry into a new sphere in concrete ways. Sponsored by both the imperial government and private patrons, many of these banquets occurred at the Winding River Park (the Qujiang 曲江) in the southeast corner of Chang’an, a location that held great cachet.77 Successful candidates in higher-level exams such as the boxue hongci, the shupan bacui,78 or the infrequent, prestigious decree examinations (zhiju 制舉) numbered even fewer than those for the jinshi examination, and they too went through similar public and private rites of recognition.79 Letters, poems, and funerary texts from throughout the ninth century document the ties that members of examination cohorts forged with one another during the examination years, and the identity of a tongnian 同年, “same-year,” peer endured until death as a mark of public acclaim. 75. Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 186. 76. See also Moore’s discussion of the relative statuses of candidate roles, such as the tribute candidate and the student of an imperial academy, in his examination of a tribute candidate from the southeast, Ouyang Zhan 歐陽詹 (d. 801), a member of the 792 “Dragon and Tiger List.” Ibid., 111–20. 77. See Fu, Tangdai keju, 314–36; Li Bincheng 李斌城 et al., Sui Tang Wudai shehui shenghuo shi 隋唐五代社會生活史 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1998), 59–69 for a general discussion of banquet types in Chang’an, and 66 for the jinshi banquets; Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 230–80. 78. The shupan bacui, more commonly abbreviated as bacui, and the boxue hongci, abbreviated to hongci, were special examinations for accelerated appointment. See Rotours, Traité des examens, 220–21; Herbert, Examine the Honest, 41–43. 79. Rotours, Traité des examens, 6–7; see also Herbert, “Decree Examinations in T’ang China.”

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The official, public identities conferred upon literati early in their careers were reinforced by informal social experiences. In addition to the texts that discuss the important rituals of the examination ground, many poems, prefaces, and stories document a lively world of informal homosocial bonding. We might think of these texts as windows onto the activities of the smaller, sometimes overlapping circles of friends that formed within the larger groups. Han Yu alluded generally to the pleasures of the wealthy in order to define his small circle against them; but Bai and Yuan, as celebrities in Chang’an, lovingly described the range of jiaoyou that they pursued in company with their “fellows” (tu 徒) of similar rank and fame. Many of Yuan Zhen’s poems written to his tongnian or to men with whom he had served in office just before and during his decade spent in Jiangling and Tongzhou (810–20) chronicle in great detail the amount of time they spent in “wild” (kuang 狂) behavior, engaging in drinking games (the “wine rules,” jiuling 酒令), gambling, singing, and pursuing singers and courtesans in the pleasure quarters of Chang’an. Young literati seem to have cultivated this playboy (fengliu 風流) image as part of a confident pose not only to diminish the seriousness of the political “game” they were playing, but also in a self-conscious, mocking attitude towards that game. Although the records of the examination procedures highlight the importance of gratitude and reverence paid to superiors in order to maintain social and political hierarchies, the many descriptions of extracurricular “revels” (xingle 行樂), as well as accounts of time spent with courtesans in mid-Tang stories of romance, capture the cultural value and the competition of this other literati sphere, and convey its influence in self-advertising and celebrity.80 The strategy of identification was therefore one that literati could use in many ways. Beyond the official sphere in which one was formally designated a member of a new high-status cohort, there were also many unofficial means to identify with elite groups, whether through practicing a popular literary style, cultivating aristocratic social connections, marrying a woman from a higher-status clan,

80. For two analyses of the Beili zhi 北里志, the late Tang text that most fully documents the world of the pleasure quarters, see Rouzer, Articulated Ladies, 249–83; and Linda Feng, “Unmasking Fengliu 風流 in Urban Chang’an: Rereading Beili zhi (Anecdotes from the Northern Ward),” CLEAR 32 (2010): 1–21.

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carousing in a highly visible way in the entertainment quarters, even acquiring expensive clothes, horses, or lodging, to the extent those were within one’s means.81 In poems from their early years in the capital, Bai and Yuan often portray themselves and their fellows as members of an elite even among those already deemed talented by the officials in power. In a poem composed at a formal banquet in 801, the year after his jinshi success, Bai Juyi dramatizes the sense of cohort identity created by post-examination festivities: Feasting on a Winter Day with Various “Same-Years” in Luoyang, at the Forest Pavilion of the Zheng Family, Given the rhyme-word xian 東都冬日會諸同年宴鄭家林亭, 得先字

Bai Juyi 盛時陪上第 暇日會群賢 桂折因同樹 鶯遷各異年 賓階紛組綬 妓席儼花鈿 促膝齊榮賤 差肩次後先

In the height of our bloom, in company we ascended the ranks; on a day of leisure, we gather as a flock of worthies. The cassia branches were snapped, all from the same tree; the orioles soared upward, each in different years.82 The ranks of guests show a profusion of tassels and seals; the singers on their mats are magnificent in flowered hairpins. Kneeling crowded together levels the successful and humble; shoulders of different heights mark former from latter [cohorts].

81. Financial prospects for men who did not come from wealthy families were something of a catch-22 throughout the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Promoting oneself in order to gain patrons and pass the exams took resources, but there were few sources of income outside official salaries available to unknown young men without means. In the context of persistent deflation (and the relative rarity of moneylending in the period), men were hard-pressed to improve their status without money. Literary compositions, particularly funerary texts, became an important source of income for some mid-Tang writers, including Han Yu. 82. The cassia branches represent the graduands, who all had some relationship to this “tree,” or patron, in all likelihood Zheng Yuqing; the ascent of the oriole becomes a prominent metaphor for examination success in the Tang, particularly in poems of the ninth century.

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122 助歌林下水 銷酒雪中天 他日昇沈者 無忘共此筵

t wo Accompanying songs—[like] water flowing from the forest; vapors of wine—[like] snow filling the heavens. In other days, we who will rise and decline: Let us never forget that we shared these mats.83

Bai Juyi points to the material manifestation of the men’s success in the privileged setting (a private pavilion), the ornate insignia of the guests, and the expensive attire of the women performers; he also cleverly notes the power of these gatherings to simultaneously “level” men in terms of wealth or rank and “mark” them by cohort. The men’s talent, in other words, has triumphed over other attributes such as birth and has redistributed status accordingly. The closing couplet demands that, whatever the future may hold, the celebration can be seen as a reaffirmation of their tongnian identity, even though this gathering includes cohorts of different years and, though Bai is not entirely clear on this point, probably of different examinations. This formal encomium, aimed at patrons and guests alike, was certainly performed at the banquet itself (since Bai notes that he was assigned a specific rhyme word, a common practice in such settings), and it necessarily emphasized the official, shared dimensions of their experience over the personal or individual. However, in poems exchanged with peers in their cohorts, literati could draw on the informal social features of this experience, as we see in the following set of poems by Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen. The two poems are both addressed to Geshu Heng 哥舒恆, a fellow successful candidate of the 803 shupan bacui examination. The poems may both be “responses” (chou 酬) to the same poem by Geshu Heng (which is not extant)—the difference in rhyme category between the two poems suggests that they are not responses to the same poem but does not decide the issue. Whatever the case may be, the content of the poem(s) that Bai and Yuan read must have been roughly similar. These poems demonstrate the ways that the significance of being in a tongnian cohort could be sustained over time as well as the utility of reinforcing tongnian ties, particularly if the men in that year’s group had been espe83. Bai Juyi jianjiao 2:717–18. I adopt two variants in the poem found in both Wenyuan yinghua and Quan Tang shi; in line 5, 綬 for 珮, and in line 7, 榮 for 貧.

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cially famous. As these poems circulated, readers or listeners would have been reminded of the men’s collective fame and promise. The annotation to the poems (here indented) seems to have been added by Bai and Yuan at a later date in order to explain relationships and occasions to future readers. Responding to Geshu [Heng’s Poem] Presented to Me 酬哥舒大見贈

Bai Juyi Last year, Geshu and I, along with others, eight in total, passed the examinations, and now I write this about the feeling of meeting and parting [with them]. 去年與哥舒等八人同登科第. 今敘會散之意. 去歲歡遊何處去 曲江西岸杏園東 花下忘歸因美景 尊前勸酒是春風 各從微宦風塵裏 共度流年離別中 今日相逢愁又喜 八人分散兩人同

In pleasure outings of this past year, what places did we go? To the western banks of the Winding River, and the eastern Apricot Garden. Beneath the flowers, we forgot to return—because of the beautiful scenes; in our cups, we urged each other to drink—this was the “air” of spring. Each of us followed our petty posts amid the wind and dust; and all of us spent the passing year apart from one another. Today we meet each other, saddened, then happy again: of the eight of us parted and scattered, at least two are together.84

Responding to District Defender Geshu [Heng]’s Poem Sent to Our Fellow Graduates 酬哥舒大少府寄同年科第

Yuan Zhen 前年科第偏年少 未解知羞最愛狂

The previous year’s exam graduates were all just youths— we’d never known what it was to be shy, and loved most being wild.

84. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 2:724–25.

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九陌爭馳好鞍馬 八人同著彩衣裳

Along the nine paths [of the city] we raced on fine saddled horses; the eight of us together wore the bright-colored robes and cloaks.

Among the successful candidates of that year were the hongci candidates Lü Jiong, Wang Qi, and the bacui candidate Bai Juyi, the pingpan candidates Li Fuli, Lü Pin, Geshu Heng, Cui Xuanliang, and myself; these eight all brought honor to their parents. 同年科第: 宏詞呂二炅, 王十起, 拔萃白二十二居易, 平判李十一復禮, 哥舒 大恆, 崔十八玄亮, 逮不肖, 八人皆奉榮養.

自言行樂朝朝是 豈料浮生漸漸忙 賴得官閒且疏散 到君花下憶諸郎

We told ourselves that such revels would happen day after day. How could we know our frivolous life would bit by bit grow busy? I’m lucky that my work is slow, and I even have time to relax— so here beneath your flowers, I recall our group of gallants.85

Here we see two dimensions of the social life of literati who had attained office: the active, boastful “wildness” of the playboy and the reflective, expressive “leisure” (xian 閒) of the official on his day off. The first mode, the pursuit of pleasure in the company of illustrious peers, highlights competition and display, from racing on horseback to drinking at parties in the public parks of the Winding River and the Apricot Garden, all the while wearing the bright clothes that signified their status. The second mode is necessary for understanding the meaning of the first—as Yuan Zhen says, the official who has time to idle away can recall and appreciate the pleasures he and his fellows had enjoyed in days past. This mid-Tang version of leisure is important in Chinese cultural history because it is neither the stillness of the recluse nor the idleness of the aristocrat at his estate; instead, it is the “in-between” time of the employed official, a mark of elite status, which could be spent (like money) on poetry, meetings with friends, and, as in later periods, the connois85. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 74; Yuan Zhen ji, 1:207.

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seurship of a range of arts.86 However, the social sphere of these poems is not yet that of the personal realm of dyadic friendship that would appear so often in later exchanges between Yuan and Bai Juyi; rather, it stands poised between the official world of political success—the eight men on display for their literary talent in the capital—and the garden of Geshu Heng, in which the friends would meet. Both poems lay a path towards the more intimate space of friendship: they begin in the broader setting of the “nine roads of the capital,” the Winding River, and the Apricot Garden, and end with the meeting of two men (in Yuan’s case, perhaps more than the two of them) in Geshu Heng’s garden. In the quiet, social space of the garden, the original tongnian group becomes particularized and personalized, and shifts in tenor. The following poems tell a similar story about the men’s early days from the more distant vantage point of 809, after both men had spent a few years in office; from that perspective, their fengliu revels seem even more vivid and competitive. Presented to Editor Lü Third87 贈呂三校書

Yuan Zhen I passed the examination in the same year as Editor Lü, but later we were parted for seven years. In the eighth month of the fourth year of the Yuanhe reign, we met by chance and stayed the night together in the Taohua quarter [of Luoyang].88 與呂校書同年科第後為別七年. 元和己丑歲八月偶于陶化坊會宿. 同年同拜校書郎 觸處潛行爛漫狂

When in the same year we were both honored as Editors, we stole around everywhere in debauched wildness.

86. For Bai Juyi’s later cultivation of gardens, and a discussion of the cultural meaning of the garden space in the Tang and Song, see Xiaoshan Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere, 11–50. See also Yang’s discussion of “leisure” in Song poetry in chapter 5, where “leisure” was the term for time experienced out of office. Bai and Yuan’s usage here is somewhat different, indicating free time available while still in service; however, the category “poems of leisure” (xianshi 閒適) that Bai created within his collection includes poems written while in office, when demoted to the south, and in his late quasi-retirement in Luoyang. 87. “Lü Third” is likely an error for “Lü Second” (see the title of Bai’s poem, below). Yuan Zhen ji corrects the title to 呂二. Yuan Zhen ji, 1:228. 88. This preface appears to be a later addition.

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共占花園爭趙辟 競添錢貫定秋娘 七年浮世皆經眼 八月閑宵忽並牀 語到欲明歡又泣 旁人相笑兩相傷

We all took our places in the flower garden to fight for Miss Zhao;89 we competed to raise strings of cash to conquer Qiu Niang. Seven years of this floating world have passed before our eyes; in the eighth month, an idle night suddenly finds us in the same bed. We talk until first morning light, in happiness, then in tears— outsiders laugh at us, but we two grieve for each other.

Moved, I Present [a poem] Matching Yuan Ninth’s to Lü Second [on the occasion of their] Rooming Together and Talking Over the Past90 和元九與呂二同宿話舊感贈

Bai Juyi 見君新贈呂君詩 憶得同年行樂時 爭入杏園齊馬首 潛行柳曲鬥蛾眉 八人雲散俱遊宦 七度花開盡別離 聞道秋娘猶且在

When I saw the poem you recently presented to Master Lü, I recalled the times of reveling with our “sameyears.” Fighting to get into Apricot Garden, riding together on horseback, we’d steal along the willow banks, contending for moth-browed girls. Since the eight of us scattered like clouds, we’ve all been wandering officials;91 in the seven times the flowers have bloomed, we’ve all been parted from one another. But I’ve heard it said that Qiu Niang is still there—

89. In the name Zhao Bi, bi 辟 may be an error for bi 嬖, concubine or favorite. See Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 165; Yuan Zhen ji 1:228. Given the parallel placement of Qiu Niang, a known Tang entertainer, in the next line, it likely refers to an entertainer surnamed Zhao. 90. Bai’s poem is also dated to 809. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:843. 91. Okamura Shigeru argues that this “eight men” refers to the group of eight mentioned by Yuan in another poem, eight of the 803 shupan bacui graduates. Okamura 罔 村繁, ed., Haku shi monju 白氏文集 , vol. 3 (Meiji shōin, 1988), 167.

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and even today from time to time she asks about [Yuan] Weizhi!

The occasion for these poems was a chance meeting between Yuan Zhen and a tongnian friend from the 803 examinations, Lü Jiong 呂炅, in Luoyang in 809. After coming out of mourning for his mother in early 809, Yuan had just been appointed to a new and promising position in the Censorate.92 Of Lü Jiong we know little, but Han Yu has a poem dated to 811 that recounts the strange story of Lü’s brief conversion to Daoism, which involved abandoning his family and new wife, and his eventual return to secular life.93 Bai Juyi was in a much better situation than either of his two friends: in 809, Bai was a Reminder of the Left (r. 8a), a remonstrance position, and, more notably, a member of the Hanlin Academy.94 At this stage, they are able to retrospectively tease one another about their earlier competition, now that they are all past the initial years of examinations and securing office. In these poems that reflect on the early Chang’an years, Bai and Yuan suggest that all of them were intently playing two highly visible roles—the young official and the playboy—by pairing the roles explicitly in their opening couplets and elaborating on the levels of competition those roles entailed in the following couplets. Political and sexual contention coexist in these descriptions even as the men’s activities define them as members of a tightly knit band. Yuan Zhen’s juxtaposition is the starkest: against the honor of appointment to the post of editor, he sets the image of stealing about in “debauched wildness” (lanman kuang 爛漫狂). He follows this with the language of combat: they “take their ground” (zhan 占) and “fight” (zheng 爭) for beauties, raising money to “conquer” (ding 定) them. In contrast, Bai’s description seems rather tame; although he alludes to the struggle among men to get into the Apricot Garden,95 his version of competing for women does not involve 92. Roughly two months after this meeting, Yuan’s wife, Wei Cong, died. Bian, Yuan Zhen nianpu, 109–16. 93. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 2:546–48. 94. Hanabusa, Haku Kyoi kenkyū 白居易研究, 48. 95. Bai’s reference to the Apricot Garden may in fact be meant to emphasize competition among men rather than competition for women, since “seeking flowers” (tanhua 探花) in the Apricot Garden was an important event in the spring of the examination

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strings of cash. Yuan Zhen concludes by commenting on the relationship between Lü and himself, and the coincidence of their meeting: seven years later, the “idle night” in which they might have chased singing girls in their youth instead brings them together in the same bed (bing chuang 並床). Yuan’s reference to the laughter of observers heightens the intimacy of the friends’ communion and also suggests their hard-won understanding of their bond in contrast to the “outsiders” around them. The “idleness” of the night and their isolation in a crowd creates both the moment and the atmosphere for a new kind of social connection. Where in Geshu Heng’s garden, sadness is quickly replaced by happiness at meeting or recalling the cohort, in Yuan’s poem, the events of recent years have heightened the meaning of old ties. Bai Juyi responds to Yuan Zhen’s melancholy with a much more light-hearted perspective from Chang’an. In his penultimate couplet, Bai Juyi refers to parting and the passage of time, and then offers a sharp reminder that time has not passed the same way for them as it has for others. Bai Juyi’s “I’ve heard it said . . .” sounds disingenuous—he may in fact have heard it from Qiu Niang herself. His teasing final line, “And even today from time to time [Qiu Niang] asks about Weizhi!” not only reminds Yuan that the pleasures of Chang’an are still dazzling, but also says that Yuan is not entirely forgotten, despite his few years out of the scene. Taken as a whole, Bai Juyi’s response is both compassionate—he is “moved” (gan 感) to write a matching poem for a poem not originally presented to him—and challenging. With his final couplet, Bai reinserts the competition for status in front of women back into the dynamics of male friendship,96 and as the friend who is writing from Chang’an, he implicitly reaffirms the publicity value of that “wild debauchery” in the capital.97 By referring to their leisure in poems to Geshu Heng, Lü Jiong, and one another, Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen reveal that the life of a low-rankritual year that followed the Winding River banquets. For a discussion of “flower-seeking,” see Fu, Tangdai keju, 310–15, and Moore, Rituals of Recruitment, 236–44. 96. See Ping Yao, “The Status of Pleasure: Courtesans and Literati Connections in T’ang China (618–907),” Journal of Women’s History 14:2 (2002), esp. 37–44. 97. In a poem sent to Yuan, Lü, and six other friends who were successful in the 803 examinations, Bai suggests that they had enormous amounts of leisure time in this period (“in three fortnights, I’ve gone into the office twice” 三旬兩入省). Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:265–69.

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ing official was not always very busy, and socializing with friends became the chief activity that filled the time. Drinking, gambling, and visiting brothels were common activities for young men of their rank and status, but, as the following poem by Bai Juyi suggests, enjoying the scenery in the company of peers could also be the source of vivid aesthetic experiences. At the Beginning of Summer, Going to Kaiyuan Temple Together with Several Editors to Spend the Night and Appreciate the Moonlight 首夏同諸校正游開元觀因宿玩月

Bai Juyi 我與二三子 策名在京師 官小無職事 閒於為客時 沉沉道觀中 心賞期在茲 到門車馬迴 入院巾仗隨 清和四月初 樹木正華滋 風清新葉影 鳥戀殘花枝 向夕天又晴 東南餘霞披 置酒西廊下 待月盃行遲 須臾金魄生 若與吾徒期 光華一照耀 殿角相參差 終夜清景前 笑歌不知疲 長安名利地 此興機人知

I and a few of my fellows are famous for our policy-writing throughout the capital. We have minor posts, with no real work to do— more idle than when we were visitors. Retreating deep into a Daoist temple, our hearts delight at meeting here. Arriving at the gates, carriages and horses turn back; as we enter the courtyard, temple attendants follow. In fresh, mild air, early in the fourth month, trees and greenery just now blooming and lush, the wind blows fresh on the shadows of new leaves; birds cling to the branches with remaining blossoms. Towards evening, the sky again clears as a few rosy clouds roll away to the southeast. Setting out wine on the western porch, we await the moon, slowing our drinking. Moments later, the golden spirit comes forth,98 as if it had a meeting with me and my companions. Its brilliant splendor sets everything gleaming— corners of temple buildings uneven against one another. All through the night in this clear scene, we laugh and sing, never feeling weary. Amid all the famous splendid places in Chang’an, how many people understand this inspiring experience?99

98. The phrase jinpo 金魄, “golden spirit,” is a figure for the full moon. 99. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:271–72. Bai placed this poem in the “leisure and seclusion,” 閑適, category of his collection.

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In subtle contrast to the tongnian identity of the earlier poems, although Bai Juyi makes it clear that this is a gathering of men of the same rank, office, and talent—“famous for our policy-writing throughout the capital”—over the course of the poem he redefines the group by their ability to “know,” or understand and appreciate, the inspiration provided by the moment and place. Bai Juyi’s reference to a “few of my fellows” (二三子) plays the same role as in Han Yu’s poems, which is to underscore the selectivity of the group and to position himself as its leader. As in the earlier poems, the leisure of being underemployed, low-ranking officials creates the time for pleasure outings, but here, the social and the aesthetic spaces converge and complement one another. Once in the temple, Bai points to the transient beauty of the scene —the foliage is “just now” at its greenest, and the sky clears suddenly, making way for the moon. Bai suggests that the moon itself arrives only after they have prepared for the viewing by setting out wine, “as if it had a meeting with me and my fellows.” This allusion to Li Bai’s “Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon” 月 下獨酌—the text that Bai Juyi echoes in a playful way throughout the poem—reveals important differences between Li Bai’s clever gathering of himself, moon, and shadow and Bai Juyi’s depiction of his coterie outing. In his poem, Li Bai begins by drinking alone (du zhuo 獨酌) because he has “no one with whom to be intimate” (wu xiang qin 無 相親), and thus he proceeds, most unconventionally, to create a new aesthetic and social experience by making companions of the moon and his own shadow, 暫伴月將影. At the end of Li Bai’s poem, the temporary companions disband: “When still sober, we share our pleasure together, / once we’re drunk, we go our separate ways” 醒時同交歡, 醉後各分 散.100 In Bai Juyi’s depiction of a moonlit outing, on the other hand, the companionship of the select friends is the necessary condition for what is first an aesthetic realization—treasuring the perfect “clear scene”—and, by the end, a new definition of the group’s identity as connoisseurs. From the opening lines, the poem rejects the playboy image that we saw in other poems: rather than being part of the crowds in Chang’an’s other

100. This poem is the first and most famous of a series of four to this title. Li Bai quanji jiaozhu huishi jiping 李白全集校注彙釋集評, 8 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1996), 6:3267–68.

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“splendid places” like the Winding River, where one went to see and be seen, he and his friends choose to hide themselves away in a temple courtyard for an exclusive encounter. But in his closing couplet, Bai Juyi widens his perspective outward again, and places the group explicitly back into the capital. In this poem, the competition between the fellows of earlier days has been replaced by a shared “inspiration,” an epiphany that their status as officials—men of leisure, talent, and aesthetic sophistication—allows them to experience.

ƒ Mid-Tang texts on social circles from early literati careers reveal the peculiar constraints on the initial formation of friendships that went beyond the need to cultivate patrons and other social connections. Family background, wealth, and regional provenance determined many of the youthful connections men formed; examinations and offices then provided new contexts and identities, and new possibilities for friendship. Whether in the case of Han’s lines drawn to separate his group from others or Bai and Yuan’s circles that enclosed and reinforced their cohorts and cliques, the poems and letters they wrote about one another worked to underscore the reputations they had achieved or hoped to be known for. Beyond demonstrating the ways that a group identity could inform individual reputations, these poems, letters, and prefaces reveal the writers’ experiments in representing friendship within an environment that stimulated authentic writing, whether in the mode of Meng Jiao’s difficult, “ancient” style or Bai Juyi’s more elegant one. The two kinds of group identity I have described here, in other words, converged in their ability to create a social and cultural space that was rhetorically located outside the official, public domain but still remained open and sensitive to the view of that audience. The authors of the texts examined in this chapter were largely concerned with establishing identities to present to others, as part of building cultural capital in the early stages of careers, and they advertised their social ties as part of that work. In the following chapter, by contrast, we see in the form of responsive poetry the dynamic literary interaction that occurred within those circles, and the results of creative and sometimes contentious engagement with other writers. Although

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they were just as aware of the larger audience for their work, writers who collaborated with one another in responsive verse were inevitably drawn inward, compelled to engage each other’s perspectives and poetic talents more intently as they conducted an intimate conversation in verse.

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ch apter thr ee

Responding in Kind: Friendship and Poetic Exchange In the Dao of the noble man, there is a time for going forth and a time for staying still, a time to remain silent, and a time to speak out. But when two people share mind and heart, their sharpness severs metal; as for the words of those sharing mind and heart, their fragrance is like orchids. 君子之道, 或出或處, 或默或語, 二人同心, 其利斷金. 同心之言, 其 臭如蘭. —Xici commentary for Hexagram 13, “Tongren,” Yi jing

I

n Chang’an in the spring of 828, Bai Juyi, Liu Yuxi, and Zhang Ji gathered together for festivities in the Apricot Garden, a popular destination for examination candidates, their patrons, and others interested in enjoying spring in the Winding River Park. All three men were in their fifties, but their careers had taken very different paths until that point. After two decades of demotion to low-ranking provincial posts, Liu had just been recalled to Chang’an in 827 and was trying to make his way in a city and under a government that had changed tremendously since the Shunzong reign. Zhang Ji, known to both men but not especially intimate with either, had only recently advanced to a higher office,

epigraph: Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), vol. 1, Zhou yi zhengyi, 325–26. Translation adapted from Richard John Lynn, The Classic of Changes: A New Translation of the I Ching as Interpreted by Wang Bi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 217.

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thanks to Han Yu’s recommendation.1 Bai Juyi, on the other hand, was quite wealthy and secure, famous as a poet and a bon vivant. Bai Juyi seems to have initiated the poetic exchange, presenting a poem to Liu about the event; Zhang Ji also presented a poem matching Bai’s rhymes; Liu responded to Bai. At some point, Yuan Zhen received a copy of the exchange (or perhaps only Bai’s poem) and composed his own response. The four poems are teasing on the surface but wistful just beneath it, alluding to past successes, years of hardship, and friends no longer in their company. Presented to Director Liu beneath the Flowers at Apricot Garden 杏園花下贈劉郎中

Bai Juyi 怪君把酒偏惆悵

I wonder why, when you drink, you are so very

曾是貞元花下人

you once were a man beneath the flowers in the Zhenyuan reign. Since you parted from the flowers, how many things have happened? The east wind has brought us twenty-four springs.2

melancholy— 自別花來多少事 東風二十四迴春

Presented to Director Liu Along With Vice-Director Bai at the Apricot Garden 同白侍郎杏園贈劉郎中

Zhang Ji 一去瀟湘頭已白

When you left the land of the Xiao and Xiang, your hair was already gray;

1. Zhang Ji had just attained the post of Director of Studies in the College of the Sons of State (Guozi siye 國子司業), r. 4b2, which apparently was the highest post he held in his lifetime (most scholars agree on the year 830 as the year of his death). Zhang’s career progress was impeded in the first decade of Xianzong’s reign by serious eye problems, which caused him to take leave of his office in 816. He returned to office by at least 824, and returned to office in Chang’an in 826, as Director of the Bureau of Receptions (zhuke langzhong 主客郎中), r. 5b, a post in which he was succeeded by Liu Yuxi in 828. See Wu Yingying 吳鶯鶯, “Zhang Ji yu Han Yu, Bai Juyi de jiaoyou ji changhe” 張籍與韓愈, 白居易的交遊及唱和, Xiangtan shifandaxue xueyuan xuebao 23.6 (2001), 78–79. See also Ji Zuoliang 紀作亮, Zhang Ji yanjiu 張籍研究 (Huangshan shushe, 1986), 25–26; and Jiao Tijian 焦體檢, Zhang Ji yanjiu 張籍研究 (Kaifeng: Henan daxue chubanshe, 2010), 52–54. 2. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 3:1756.

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and on this morning you see afresh the apricot blossom spring. Dispatched wanderers of years gone by—they must be numberless; but of those come again beside the flowers, how many are there?3

Responding to Letian’s Presentation [of a poem] beneath the Flowers at Apricot Garden 杏園花下酬樂天見贈

Liu Yuxi 二十餘年作逐臣 歸來還見曲江春 遊人莫笑白頭醉 老醉花間有幾人

For more than twenty years, I was an outcast official, now returning, I see again a Winding River spring. Revelers, do not laugh at the drunken white-haired men— of those aged and drunk among the flowers, how many are there?4 Responding to Bai Letian on Apricot Flower Garden 酬白樂天杏花園

Yuan Zhen 劉郎不用閑惆悵 且作花間共醉人 算得貞元舊朝士 幾員同見太和春

Master Liu should not be melancholy for no good reason, but instead should be with them, drunk among the flowers. Reckoning up the fine men of the old court’s Zhenyuan reign, how many officials are there together to see this Taihe spring?5

This exchange illustrates some of the essential dynamics of responsive poetic composition in the early ninth century. Combining wit

3. Xu Lijie 徐禮節 and Yu Shucheng 余恕誠, ed., Zhang Ji ji xinian jiaozhu 張籍集 繫年校注 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2011), 2:758–60. 4. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 2:1081–82. 5. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 924; Yuan Zhen ji 1:364.

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with gentle self-mockery while competing for the best final line, the four poets use the loose heptametric quatrain and the most common rhyme words—“man” (ren 人) and “spring” (chun 春)—to reflect on the arrival of spring and the departure, through demotion and death, of many of the men they had known. The order of responses is significant here: both Liu and Zhang reply to Bai Juyi’s fondness for counting things (“twenty-four springs”) by noting how few of their fellow “white-haired” men were there. They position themselves in relationship to one another as well: Liu openly refers to his own years of being “outcast,” and Zhang underscores Liu’s late-life return. But Yuan Zhen, writing from his governorship in Hangzhou, responds to Bai’s poem more wryly, with a contrast between the promise of the Zhenyuan era, when all four men had passed the jinshi or the mingjing examinations, and the changed world of the Taihe reign. He also implies that Liu should be grateful for his turn of fortune. By situating the quatrains in the Apricot Garden, the site of celebration for the successful young men they had all once been, the poets underscore their sense of luck as well as their sense of loss. When read together, the poems complicate the initial scene of springtime camaraderie with unique, sometimes melancholy perspectives on the passage of time. As this exchange and others will show, the literary inspiration stimulated by friendship derived from different opinions as well as matching ones. The Song bibliographic records of literary collections from the late eighth and early ninth centuries reveal that composing poetic exchanges with peers and compiling those poems in small collections became widespread practice during the mid-Tang. The extant prefaces and the scant details we have for the many lost collections also give us evidence that the practice flourished among men of different ranks, regions, and ages. As I noted in the introduction, in his offering text composed for Yuan Zhen at Yuan’s death, Bai Juyi boasted that over the course of thirty years of friendship he and Yuan had exchanged “nine hundred” poems back and forth.6 Thanks to their diligence in preserving their poetry and prose, almost six hundred of those exchange poems are still extant.7 But

6. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3621. 7. The extant changhe poems exchanged among Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, and then between Bai and Liu Yuxi (all he, chou, and da response poems) dwarf the numbers of

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though Bai and Yuan may have been the most famous for it, the practice was not confined to their dyadic friendship. In the bibliographic records of Tang poetry collections described as containing changhe 唱和 verse there are thirty-one titles of collections that can be dated to the period 780–835, out of forty-one titles for the entire dynasty.8 These exchanges appeared under many different titles and forms. With origins dating back to the early medieval period, the changhe form was an exchange in which one poet would compose a poem (the chang, original “sung” verse) and one or more poets would he, “match” that poem using the same regulated or unregulated form, the same number of lines, and often some form of rhyme matching. The responding poem sometimes used words from the same rhyme group, sometimes used the same rhyme words in a different order, or—in its strictest form—used the same rhymes in exactly the same order as the originating poem. In addition to this responsive form, the mid-Tang also saw a new interest in the collaborative lianju 聯句, linked verse, a form that also had early medieval precedents, in which poets composed couplets or quatrains in alternation to create a single poem. There are hundreds of poems with titles indicating “matching” (he 和), “responding” (chou 酬), and “answering” (da 答) to be found in the extant collections of individual mid-Tang poets, testifying to the importance of poetry as social communication in medieval elite society. Perhaps more widely than earlier moments in Chinese literary history, mid-Tang literati society buzzed with poetic conversation, exchange, and play. This new flourishing of exchange poetry illustrates the post-Rebellion decentralization of literary culture in numerous ways. Extant prefaces to exchange collections record that this type of poetic exchange was often situated outside the imperial court and the capital, and the poets

similar compositions between any other set of poets: the Bai-Yuan exchanges total 584 poems; the Bai-Liu exchanges, 489. 8. Among these thirty-one, ten involved Bai Juyi. See Chen Shangjun 陳尚君, “Tangren bianxuan shige zongji xulu” 唐人編選詩歌總集敘錄, in Tangdai wenxue congkao 唐代文學叢考 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1997), 203–25. See also Jia Jinhua 賈晉華, Tangdai jihui zongji yu shirenqun yanjiu 唐代集會總集與詩人 群研究 (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2001). Jia’s work focuses on the poetic production of discrete groups, and sees the collections as representative of the membership of groups and their styles.

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included in a single collection could vary significantly in political rank. These prefaces also reveal that collections were less frequently attached to a formal occasion or imperial command, a practice common in early and high Tang court poetry, and more often centered on the interests of the participating poets, however those were defined.9 Although there were earlier precedents for poetry writing and collecting that existed between the official and the private realms, such as the poems by Wang Wei 王 維 (701–761) and Pei Di 裴迪 (716–?) composed at Wang’s estate,10 we do not find evidence that this was prevalent among elite poets until the late eighth century. In addition to matching and responding to poems written by their contemporaries, mid-Tang poets could even reach back in time and match poems from the past (either their own past or others’), a practice known as zhuihe 追和.11 More notably, this poetic trend highlights the period fascination with the social, dynamic uses of literary writing—literature used not merely for competitive display but also for intellectual and aesthetic conversation. Some scholarly attempts have been made to reconstruct the collections of changhe verse that are no longer extant. However, it seems that most of the poetry that filled the small collections has been lost, as have most lianju except for those preserved in individual collections, most prominently in the largest corpora of the period—those of Han Yu, Meng Jiao, Bai Juyi, Yuan Zhen, and Liu Yuxi.12 Thus we have to turn 9. On this point, see Li Dehui, Tangdai wenguan zhidu, 360–62 and 378–81, where he considers the relationship between the decentralization of literati culture and literati identities. 10. For a study of Pei Di’s poems in this exchange, which are often neglected by scholars, see Ding Xiang Warner, “The Two Voices of Wangchuan ji: Poetic Exchange between Wang Wei and Pei Di,” Early Medieval China 10–11.2 (2005), 57–72. 11. The most comprehensive study of changhe shi practices to date is Zhao Yiwu 趙以武, Changhe shi yanjiu 唱和詩研究 (Lanzhou: Gansu wenhua chubanshe, 1997). A good introduction to the mid-Tang practices (including lianju) is Tang Yinfei 湯吟 菲, “Zhong Tang changhe shi shulun” 中唐唱和詩述論, Wenxue yichan 2001.3: 49–58. 12. See Chen Shangjun, “Tangren,” for details on the contents of these collections. See Hanabusa, Hakushi monjū no hihanteki kenkyū, 312–13, for a discussion of the order of the Yuan-Bai changhe collections. Hanabusa also lays out in chronological order all the extant changhe verses from the two men’s collections, 325–55. For a comprehensive discussion of the history of compiling collections of individual poets (bieji 別集) in the Tang, see Nugent, Manifest in Words, 236–84. Although Bai and Yuan wrote a great deal about the compilation of their own collected works, we unfortunately have little

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to a wide range of texts to reconstruct the social, political, and literary meanings that mid-Tang literati found in composing and collecting collaborative verse. As we saw in letters to patrons on behalf of friends, the poets who participated in or composed prefaces for collections of changhe or lianju certainly did so as a way to enhance their standing in elite circles by publicizing their own social connections and talents. What varied greatly were the rewards to be gained for this kind of publicity. The extant prefaces and bibliographic notices for collections reveal that although some literati made collections with peers with whom they served in office (such as the San sheren ji 三舍人集 [The three secretaries’ collection] composed by three officials at the Secretariat, which may have originally been titled Hanlin geci 翰林歌詞 [Lyrics from the Hanlin Academy], in reference to the three men’s service in that office),13 other collections were the work of men of quite disparate status (such as the one compiled by the older minister Linghu Chu 令狐楚 and the lower-ranking Liu Yuxi in 833).14 Politically asymmetrical exchanges and collections are stronger evidence for instrumentality than are those created with close friends or colleagues. When powerful officials such as Quan Deyu or Pei Du chose to collaborate with lower-ranked men by composing poems with them or writing prefaces for their collections, they testified to the growing importance of literary fame in ninth-century elite culture even for men at the highest echelons of Tang government. High-ranking officials brought the weight of their political influence to these exchanges; conversely, low-ranking men of greater poetic talent could flatter their superiors and shine in reflected glory.15 These poetic collaborations thereby produced social, political, and cultural capital that was distributed unevenly among participating literati. evidence for how poets might have broken apart (if that is the appropriate way of conceptualizing it) a changhe or lianju collection and preserved those poems in individual collections in the Tang. It seems likely that some poems were retitled when being preserved in bieji and were therefore “lost” as poems from a changhe exchange. 13. Chen Shangjun, “Tangren,” 208. 14. Ibid., 212–13. See Liu Yuxi’s preface and postface to this collection in Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3.1496–99. In the preface, which was written before Linghu’s death, Liu emphasizes the discrepancies of rank and career success between the two men. However, in citing Linghu’s letter asking Liu to make a collection, Liu makes clear that Linghu intends their collection to be competition for the previous year’s Liu Bai changhe shi ji. 15. On this point, see Nugent, Manifest in Words, 210–12.

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This diverse evidence also shows that mid-Tang friendship circles helped to promote the popularity and expand the aesthetic potential of collaborative verse beyond its obvious instrumental uses. Aside from the fact that gatherings of friends often inspired poetry composition (and competition), certain cultural expectations of friendship also shaped the poems, a fact frequently emphasized in prefaces. When invoked to describe a poetic collection, the discourse of friendship rhetorically allocated the power to speak evenly among poets, in spite of differences in talent or rank. At various moments, Han Yu, Meng Jiao, Bai Juyi, and Yuan Zhen all argued that because friends chose one another for their worth, and because true friendship ignored asymmetries of age and status, literati friends could have an equal voice in exchanges. At the same time, a level playing field encouraged poets to compete energetically with one another. Whether a poet chose to emphasize affirmation or rebuttal, he 和 or da 答, depended on the particular relationship and the poets’ literary and social goals. For example, Bai spent decades composing changhe verse with Yuan Zhen, whom he called his “literary friend and poetic adversary” (wen you shi di 文友詩敵). After Yuan’s death, Liu Yuxi took his place as Bai’s friend and chief poetic adversary, and they composed dozens of exchanges, such as those collected in the Liu Bai changhe shiji 劉白唱和詩集.16 In his “Explanation of the Liu and Bai Exchange Verse Collection” (Liu Bai changhe ji jie 劉白唱和集解), Bai depicts the creative combat of two well-matched changhe opponents: Liu Mengde of Pengcheng is a great master of poetry, bristling with poetic armament, and few dare to face him. But I, not assessing my strength, often went against this. Our harmonizing and responding were the same in tone, and in both camaraderie and combat, our strengths were matched; thus we went back and forth, unable to stop even if we wished to. In this way, when one of us composed a piece, he would first show the other the draft. Once that person had looked over a draft, then inspiration would

16. Bai discusses the collection and the friendship that led to the composition of the poems and the making of two small collections (the Liu Bai changhe shiji, which contains 138 poems, and the two-juan collection Liu Bai Wu Luo jihe juan 劉白吳洛寄和 卷) in his 832 letter to Liu Yuxi (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3696). For an analysis of both the Bai-Yuan changhe and Bai-Liu changhe poems, see Chen Caizhi 陳才智, Yuan Bai shi pai yanjiu 元白詩派研究 (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2007), 234–48.

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arise [in the other poet], and once inspiration arose, a piece would then be completed.17 彭城劉夢得, 詩豪者也. 其鋒森然, 少敢當者. 予不量力, 往往犯之. 夫合 應者聲同, 交爭者力敵, 一往一復, 欲罷不能. 繇是每製一篇, 先相視草. 視竟則興作, 興作則文成.

The dialectical energy of changhe verse, as Bai depicts it, sprang from the dedication as well as the equal matching of both opponents; from that starting point, the originating poet’s verse could serve as the necessary xing, “inspiration,” for a composition in response. Although he depicts this as a poetic battle at the outset, Bai does not frame the outcome as victory or triumph but rather as poems being “completed,” cheng, suggesting a coherent process. And though he has his nephew copy out a version of the collection of 138 poems for Liu, Bai Juyi concludes in this text that the poems were worthy of being shared more widely than within the two men’s families.18 The metaphor of combat, so enthusiastically deployed at the outset of Bai’s preface, gives way to images of completion, compilation, and preservation by the end. Bai Juyi’s “explanation” of their collection also implies that in the case of changhe poetry the friendship circle often collapsed to a dyad; although poems were sometimes multiply “matched” (he), “replied to” (da), or “responded [and presented] to” (chou) by other poets, as we saw in the opening exchange, the most common version of changhe composition occurred between two poets. The dyadic relationship could heighten the aesthetic and emotional intensity of exchanges, since the formal conventions of changhe and lianju also worked at least in theory to raise the expectation of close engagement among literary friends. Any poem presented to another poet was available to be “matched” or “responded to” by the other; and once a habit of exchange had been established within a pair or group, it could carry on for years, according to the poets’ whim. The more stringent turn-taking of the lianju form, in contrast, seems to have forced participants to contribute equally to a composition within a bounded moment in time. In the best examples of changhe and 17. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3711. 18. On the relationship between this kind of copying and the creation of larger individual collections, see Nugent, Manifest in Words, 255.

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lianju, the dialogic expectations—the necessary line-by-line alternations in mood and language of each participant, as well as the correct use of the chosen tonal pattern and rhyme structure—required close attention to the details of the fellow poet’s work. Beyond their formal difficulties, collaborative and responsive verse problematized the concept of the subject in medieval lyric poetry. If the canonical mandate of poetry, shi, was to express an individual’s response to experience, then how was that complicated by poets attempting to represent shared experience in alternating voices, as in changhe, or, as in lianju, to conceptualize together in a complementary, progressive fashion a single poetic experience? When practiced among friends, changhe and lianju verse blurred the boundaries of poetic subjectivity, the lines between the speaking self and the reader or addressee that were quite clear in traditional lyric poetry. Among friends, therefore, such poetic exchanges could raise difficult questions about individual identity and control, as poets sought not only to inscribe personal impressions and feelings while “responding” but also to shape the responses of their fellow poets. Mid-Tang poetic exchange and collaboration dramatized both the intimacy and tensions of literary friendship in a way that few other genres could capture.

Mid-Tang Perspectives on Poetic Exchange and Friendship Although the vogue of collaborative and responsive poetry existed in many diverse social settings in the mid-Tang, the extant prefaces and discussions of such exchanges suggest that the discourse informed many writers’ attempts to defend the practice of friendship. In this section I will examine three different models of poetic exchange that were composed in the same five-year period, between 806 and 811, to illuminate the ways in which the discourse could be used, and to consider the implications of the practice for medieval literary theory. Two prefaces by Quan Deyu, both composed for now-lost collections of poems, reveal the potential political uses of changhe verse collections even in the context of friendship. Bai Juyi’s preface to a set of poems that he composed

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in response to poems by Yuan Zhen as Yuan set off to a new post in disgrace explores the difficulty of extrapolating from the affective model of poetic response (the poet responding to the circumstances of his world with poetry) to a secondary level of response—how one poet might appropriately “match” or “respond to” a close friend’s poetic representation of experience. The three prefaces also configure exchange poetry among friends in three quite different social forms: the first is conceived by Quan around a single poet, Tang Ci 唐次 (?–806), at the center of a poetic hub containing many others. In the preface to the second collection, Quan praises the fidelity of two poets’ dyadic friendship represented by the poems of the collection, and he then claims solidarity and friendship alongside them. In the third text, Bai Juyi considers the problem of his poetic role in an intimate dyadic relationship, when his assumptions about his and Yuan’s mutual understanding are tested by their exchange of poems. These discrete social configurations were only a few of the possible organizations for changhe verse collections, but they give us an excellent view of the range of meaning poets discovered in them. The view of Quan Deyu on poetic exchange is especially useful given that he was the consummate mid-Tang literary statesman, an insider with decades of official service and literary composition. Born in 759 in the middle of the An Lushan Rebellion, he rose to prominence in the 770s and 780s and thrived under both Dezong and Xianzong until his death in 818, even briefly occupying the role of grand councilor under Xianzong, despite the fact that he was neither from a great clan nor ever passed an examination.19 DeBlasi, examining Quan’s commitment to what he has named the “literary mainstream” of mid-Tang culture, has 19. Quan Deyu’s biography in Jiu Tang shu contains few exact dates for his early posts, but some have been proposed by scholars in recent years. For three useful introductions to Quan’s life and works, see Jiang Yin 蔣寅, “Quan Deyu yu Zhenyuan houqi shifeng” 權德輿與貞元後期詩風, in Chen Pingyuan and Chen Guoqiu, eds., Wen xue shi 文學史, vol. 2, Zhongguo gudai wenxue shilun (Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 1995), 118–41; the introduction to Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 1–22; and Yan Guorong 顏國榮, Quan Deyu yanjiu 權德輿研究 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2006). For Tang Ci, see JTS 190.5060–62, and also Quan’s offering text for Tang, in Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 2:764. Quan also wrote an epitaph for Tang’s younger brother, which mentions Quan’s long friendship with the Tang family, including a marriage between a Quan female cousin and Tang Ci’s brother (Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 1:378–79).

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argued that Quan’s defense of an “accommodative spirit” towards reform and literary innovation allowed him to flourish within rather than at odds with the inherited tradition.20 As his extensive body of poetry and prose suggests, Quan was a prolific writer, known among mid-Tang literati for his commitment to wen—both the act of wen that was literary composition and the broader sense of the inherited cultural tradition, si wen 斯文.21 Upon hearing of Quan’s promotion to grand councilor in 810, Han Yu wrote: “Now the men of wen will receive their proper employment, / and the Way of wen will widely prevail” 文人得其職, 文道當大行.22 Quan’s popularity as a composer of prefaces for collected works and funerary texts—compositions that required him to provide a balanced overview of a life and a body of work—also reveals that other literati held his critical judgment in high regard. His talent for assessment was essential to one of his most influential political roles: during his three years’ service as chief examiner, when he evaluated the compositions of hundreds of candidates, he personally oversaw the success of more than seventy men in the examinations.23 As Han Yu wrote in his funerary inscription for Quan, Quan’s reputation for fairness as an evaluator stemmed in part from the measured quality and the classical foundation of his learning and literary composition; his disregard of social background in evaluating worth was also important in this regard.24 In these two prefaces, we see Quan defending exchange poetry composed between men of very unequal status as well 20. DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 34–38; see also his “Striving for Completeness: Quan Deyu and the Evolution of the Tang Intellectual Mainstream,” HJAS 61.1 (2001): 5–36. 21. As Yan and Guo explain, the fact that Quan’s collection was lost from some point in the Song through the Ming is certainly in part responsible for his relative neglect in literary and historical scholarship on the mid-Tang. 22. Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 2:766; Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:527. 23. Many of Quan’s other posts required assessment and evaluation of men for office: for example, he moved from r. 6b1 to r. 5b1 in 800, when he was made Director of the Bureau of Merit Titles; after his service as chief examiner, he was appointed the Vice-Minister of the Bureau of Rites (r. 4a) in 805; and then served two terms as Vice-Minister of Personnel between 806 and 815. He held almost no advisory or policy-making posts, despite his brief (slightly more than one year, and apparently undistinguished) service as a grand councilor, nor did he serve in the Hanlin. See his biography in JTS 148.4001–5 and other secondary sources, noted below. 24. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2239; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 3:2222–57.

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as poetry composed between men of identical rank. What seems to have mattered most to Quan was the poets’ ability to respond to events and to one another sensitively, in ways that showed their awareness of the normative patterns of wen in all its manifestations—human, natural, or literary. The first preface, the “Preface to the Exchange Poetry Collection of Tang Shijun of Shengshan” 唐使君盛山唱和詩集, introduces what may have been the most unusual changhe poetry collection of the period.25 We might more accurately call it an anthology masquerading as a changhe shiji. Tang Ci had been an associate of the official Dou Shen 竇參 in the late 780s and early 790s; when Dou was punished in 792 for plotting against the emperor and demoted, then executed, Tang Ci and others were also demoted and barely escaped with their lives.26 Tang was posted to the prefecture of Kaizhou 開州, which included Mount Sheng 盛山 (in modern-day eastern Sichuan), where he spent the next twelve years. In 802, he presented a collection to Dezong entitled Pangbian lue謗辯 略 (A summary discussion of slander), in which he cited precedents of loyal officials who were slandered by others and punished by their rulers. In response to Tang’s presumption, Dezong promptly transferred him to serve in the much less desirable and more distant position of Prefect of Kuizhou 夔州. Tang Ci’s punishment prompted Quan to compile the collection and provide it with a preface. According to his offering text for Tang, Quan had known him and his family for decades.27 At the time of composing the preface, Quan was a well-placed official (of r. 5 at least, if not r. 4a—he was promoted in late 803 or early 804) serving in Chang’an. He was therefore in a position to offer a defense of his friend for Dezong or those who might influence him. Unlike most collections of group poetry that were centered on a single occasion or place, or created by a specific group of poets, this unusual collection was created by Quan out of the exchanges between Tang Ci and twenty-three of his friends, and it comprises poems that were 25. QTW 494.2b–4a; Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 2:810–11. 26. See Tang’s JTS biography; Twitchett, ed., Cambridge History, vol. 3, 594–98; and Chiu-Duke, To Reform the Empire, 41–48. 27. Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 1:378–79 and 2:764. See also the study of Quan’s connection to Tang Ci and his younger brother in Wang Hongxia 王紅霞, Quan Deyu yanjiu 權德輿研究 (Chengdu: Ba Shu shushe, 2009), 75–77.

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presumably composed at different times and on many different topics. It shares characteristics of both an individual’s collected works—all the exchanges are centered on Tang Ci—and those of collections of social poetry, in that Quan Deyu emphasizes the coherence and harmony of responses to what must have been unique occasions. Quan intends to portray Tang Ci as a loyal official—not just by praising Tang’s individual literary talent, but by using the poems to document Tang’s broad acquaintance and literary exchanges with a wide range of worthies, including Quan himself as well as some now-deceased luminaries, men such as Liang Su and Yang Ning 楊凝. Ironically, by (falsely) representing this set of poems as an intentionally collective enterprise, Quan endows it with trustworthiness, transforming it into testimony to the breadth of Tang Ci’s literati network. Quan opens with canonical references to set the stage for the consistent argument he pursues throughout: poetry composed by men whose spirits were in harmony with one another was as morally and culturally coherent as poetry composed by individuals in response to unique circumstances. Quan deftly transfers the traditional model of poetic composition from the individual to the collective voice. The ancients gathered poems and created songs in order to observe customs and mores. Noble men “used literary writing to make friends,” and set out their words in accord with their feelings.28 Their words were truly of the same kind, and their thoughts were “without swerving”; they lamented with “Valley Winds” and praised “Woodcutting.”29 Having unified their tone and spirit, they thereby created matching and harmonizing [poems]. They took delight in the teachings regarding [Confucian] relations and broadened and restrained one another.30 This is

28. Analects 12.24: “Zengzi said, ‘The superior man uses wen to make friends, and uses friends to enrich his humaneness’ ” 曾子曰: 君子以文會友, 以友輔仁. Lu Ji 陸機, Wen fu 文賦: “Lyric poetry springs from feelings and is exquisitely ornate” 詩緣情而綺 靡, Wen xuan 17.761–81; Knechtges, Wen xuan, vol. 3, 219. 29. Analects 2.2: “The Odes number several hundred, and yet can be judged with a single phrase: ‘Oh, they will not lead you astray’”《诗》三百, 一言以蔽之, 曰 ‘思无邪’; Mao shi, Mao 35, “Valley Winds” 谷風 and Mao 165, “Fa mu” 伐木. Both poems, as noted in chap. 1, were often used for allusions to true friendship. 30. Analects 6.27: “The Master said, ‘The junzi is broadly learned in culture, and restrained through the rites, and thus can be counted on not to go astray” 子曰: 君子博 學於文, 約之以禮, 亦可以弗畔矣夫!

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the origin of the Mt. Sheng collection of Tang Wenbian [Ci 次], from Beihai. 古者采詩成聲, 以觀風俗. 士君子以文會友, 緣情放言. 言必類而思無邪, 悼谷風而嘉伐木. 同其聲氣, 則有唱和, 樂在名教, 而相博約. 此北海唐 君文編盛山集之所由作也.31

Quan opens with references to the value of friendship from the Analects and poems from the Shi jing in order to defend poetry composed “in harmony”; in the following section, he goes on to remind his readers of Tang Ci’s promising beginning at court, where he was praised by many as a “quickly rising advisor” and an ornament of the court. Quan discreetly elides the circumstances of Tang’s first demotion in 793, but then praises his years of success as a prefect in Shengshan. After defending Tang Ci’s achievements as an official both before and after his demotion, Quan elaborates on Tang’s talent and the overall quality of the collection. He praises the literary breadth of the poetry; he uses allusions to imply that Tang Ci was unjustly demoted (comparing Tang Ci first to Liu Zhen 劉楨, the first of the Seven Talents of the Jian’an, executed under the Wei, and then to the two Lu brothers, Lu Ji 陸機 and Lu Yun 陸雲, both of whom died after opposing the Sima clan of the Jin); and he points out the social diversity of the men whose poems are found in the work. These perspectives allow Quan to shift his argument away from Tang’s individual talent and actions and toward a broader cultural framework for assessing excellence of all kinds. Quan closes by personalizing the account, remembering his long friendship with Tang, and noting the friends they shared, a few of whom are now dead. In the final lines, Quan Deyu claims sole editorship of the collection and he says that he will “await the day when [Tang Ci] is summoned back and we can talk over the past” 俟夫子徵還道舊之日. The collection itself is obviously meant to hasten the day of Tang’s return to the capital. Although no document gives us all the details, Tang Ci was in fact recalled in 805, during Shunzong’s brief reign—but he died in the first month of 806, before reaching Chang’an, as Quan laments in 31. Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 2:810–11.

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his offering text for Tang. It seems likely that this collection and other efforts by Quan prompted Tang Ci’s recall.32 When writing this preface in 803 or 804, Quan Deyu was indeed the perfect insider, a rank 5 official who was serving as Chief Examiner; but he speaks on behalf of the outsider, and he assertively reintegrates Tang Ci into the literati community by documenting his talent and his literary and social interactions with other men, many of them high-ranking. The preface and the collection serve as a critique of Dezong, and in this respect, they illustrate Quan’s often-stated belief in using wenzhang in all its forms to influence political life.33 But Quan was also happy to defend the role of the jianguan 諫官, the remonstrance official, from the inside. In the next preface we will examine, he speaks from the vantage point of a colleague to two men who were his equals in rank, ability, and experience. The preface to the exchange poetry of Cui Bin 崔邠 (754–815) and Wei Cigong 衛次公 (752–818)34—a changhe shiji that seems to have been a true changhe shi collection, though it also is no longer extant—begins in a manner similar to that of the preface for Tang Ci’s collection, giving us background about how it was put together.35 This preface’s title provides essential information about the current and past experiences of the two poets: “Preface to a Collection of Matching Verse Composed by [Vice-minister of the] Bureau of Personnel Cui [Bin] and [Vice-minister of the] Bureau of War Wei [Cigong] When They Once Stayed in the Abbot’s Quarters of Tianchang Monastery While Serving Jointly as District Defenders of Weinan District” 崔吏部衛兵部同任渭南縣尉日 宿天長寺上方唱和詩集序. As he did in the preface for Tang Ci, Quan opens this preface by grounding the collection in the canonical tradition and then provides a 32. Yan Guorong suggests that the recall was in fact prompted by Quan’s advocacy, though Quan does not claim that in his offering text (69–70). But Quan mentions writing letters on Tang’s behalf and suggests that others did so as well. 33. On this point, see DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 67–68, 75. 34. For Cui Bin, see JTS 155.4117; for Wei Cigong, JTS 159.4179–80. Quan has a poem addressed to someone named Cui (whose post is not clear from the poem) that was likely presented to Cui Bin and evokes some of the same issues (serving in similar posts, knowing one another for many years) of the preface. Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 1:37. 35. Cui Bin has two poems extant in QTS 330.3686, one of which is addressed to Quan, neither of which seems to be from this collection. No poems by Wei Cigong are extant.

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history of how the exchange poems in the collection grew out of Cui and Wei’s specific experiences twenty-four years ago, when they first met. He also adds some brief praise for the literary features of the poetry. The “Fellowship” hexagram of the Classic of Changes says: “The pattern illuminates and establishes; in the center one is correct and responsive.” Therefore when the Way is the same inside, then qi [vital energy] seeks out qi; feelings emerge from within and sounds become patterns [wen]. [With wen,] one can observe and flock together; one can compare and stimulate. 易之同人曰: 文明以健, 中正而應. 故道同於內, 而氣相求, 情發於中, 而 聲成文. 以觀以群, 以比以興.36

This opening filled with layered allusions to canonical sources (here, the Yi jing 易經 [Classic of changes], the Analects, and the Great Preface to the Shi jing) is followed by a general description of the poets and poems, as we might expect in a text of this kind. The preface then seems to digress unexpectedly to a prosy account of the various offices the two men served in over the years, complete with the full names of posts and the order in which they held them, in the manner of a posthumous biography. This unusual interpolation of political detail in a preface to a collection of poetry has a point, though Quan withholds it until the very last sentences. Quan lays out the two men’s career paths side by side, showing how they moved up through ranks at the same pace and even served in some of the same posts: A bit later, they became Left and Right Rectifiers of Omissions (r. 7b1) at the same time. Congzhou was appointed to the Hanlin Academy from

36. Analects 15.21 is the source for “to flock together without forming factions” (qun er bu dang 群而不黨); implicitly referenced is Analects 12.24, “uses friends to enrich his humaneness” (yi wen hui you 以文會友). Also Analects 17.9 is obliquely alluded to here: “The Master said, ‘Little ones, why do none of you learn the Odes? They can be a source of inspiration and a basis for evaluation; they can help you come together with others, as well as to properly express complaints. In the home, they teach you about how to serve your father, and in public life they teach you about how to serve your lord. They also broadly acquaint you with the names of various birds, beasts, plants, and trees’ ” 子曰, 小子! 何莫學夫詩?詩: 可以興, 可以觀, 可以群, 可以怨; 邇之事父, 遠之事君; 多識於 鳥、獸、草、木之名. Translation from Slingerland, 204.

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this post, while Churen moved up through posts to become a Director in the Department of State Affairs and a Participant in the Drafting of Proclamations.37 Thereafter, Churen was given a regular appointment to the Secretariat, while Congzhou was again made Vice-Minister within the Department [of State Affairs] with responsibility for drafting proclamations.38 Until the time Churen was promoted to be Vice-Minister of the Bureau of Rites, and Congzhou was given a regular appointment as Vice-Minister [of the Bureau of War, both r. 4a], [Wei] briefly oversaw the examinations, and in fact replaced Cui. 厥後同為左右補闕. 從周以本官入為翰林學士, 處仁累以尚書郎知制誥. 既而處仁西垣即真, 從周復以外郎掌誥. 洎處仁遷小宗伯, 而從周即真, 俄掌貢舉, 實為之代.39

Quan then describes the impetus for writing the collection itself, which was a meeting between the two men in 808, when they talked over the past and wished to record their long-ago poetic exchanges, which appear to have been inscribed on the wall of the temple. In the final sentences, Quan explains how he knows the two men and why he was asked to write the preface: The two gentlemen and I all served as remonstrance officials, and all held positions drafting edicts; we succeeded one another in overseeing the examinations, and served in our respective bureaus [in the Secretariat]. I cannot give a complete account of all the posts we held and succeeded one another in, but I dared to provide the assistance of a “beneficial friend,”40 37. Quan seems to abbreviate the official title here; it is perhaps langzhong 郎中, a director of a bureau within the ministry (r. 5b), a post that would be appropriate to Cui’s career progress. The Jiu Tang shu does not document this early post. The zhizhigao post was held concomitantly and did not carry a separate rank. 38. These posts are noted in both biographies. 39. The sequence of posts is scrambled here, and the Jiu Tang shu biographies do not give us enough detail to correct it with confidence. However, Cui Bin oversaw the exams in 806 and 807, and Wei replaced him in the contentious 808 exam. This preface appears to be written shortly after the fall 808 reunion that Quan describes below. 40. Analects 16.4, the epigraph to chap. 2: “It is beneficial to have three kinds of friends; it is detrimental to have three other kinds of friends. To make friends with the forthright, the trustworthy in word, and the well informed is beneficial. To make friends with the ingratiating in action, the pleasing in appearance, and the plausible in speech is detrimental” 孔子曰: 益者三友, 損者三友; 友直, 友諒, 友多聞; 益矣. 友便 辟, 友善柔, 友便佞損矣.

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truly delighting in the words of shared feeling. Once the polishing up of poems was completed, it was both gentlemen’s wish that I give an account from start to finish of this collection. 德輿與二君子同為諫官, 同掌書命, 相繼典貢士, 分曹居中臺. 其間交代 迭處, 不可具舉. 敢叨益者之助, 實悅同心之言. 追琢既具, 序夫本末, 亦 二君子之志也.41

Quan’s explanation of his relationship with the two men contains two significant pieces of information: they had all served as remonstrance officials and, more importantly, they had all served successively as chief examiners. These two details provide the key to understanding the layered purposes of the collection and Quan’s preface. Quan Deyu served as a chief examiner in 802, 803, and again in 805 (no examinations were held in 804); Cui Bin oversaw the examinations in 806 and 807; then Wei Cigong oversaw the famously contested examination of 808,42 in which a set of essays was rejected for being too direct and critical (tai qie 太切) of the government on the issue of reform.43 But Wei had become known even earlier for his forceful powers of remonstration in 805 at Dezong’s death, promoting the accession of Li Chun 李純, who would ultimately become the emperor Xianzong after Shunzong’s ill-fated reign.44 Quan’s preface for the poetry of Cui Bin and Wei Cigong was composed after the examination scandal of 808, and though the contents of the collection appear to be very slight—the poems seem to be simple exchanges about the days and nights the two men spent in Weinan early in their careers—the preface gives Quan Deyu a position from which to champion the role of the remonstrance official as he, Cui Bin, and Wei Cigong had performed it over the past two decades, from serving as drafters of edicts and proclamations, to serving in the Hanlin, to adjudicating the examinations.45 Under the 41. Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 2:531–32. 42. Xu Song, Dengke jikao, 1:615–19, 651, 653, 662–65. 43. This event is regarded by some as a starting point for the development of postYuanhe “Niu-Li” factionalism. See Zizhi tongjian, 237 and 241; JTS 14.425; and Twitchett, ed., Cambridge History, vol. 3, 649–50, for a discussion of the event. 44. See Wei’s JTS bio, 159.5179, and ZZTJ 236.7607 for this incident. 45. Just as Quan was praised by Han Yu for his sense of fairness and good judgment in evaluating men, the posthumous assessment of Wei Cigong was also positive:

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oversight of these three men between 802 and 808, over 150 men were advanced in the examinations. It is fair to say that the three of them together shaped an entire generation of men who came to power during Xianzong’s reign and after his death. Quan Deyu nowhere mentions the 808 examination troubles, but he clearly positions himself and his career alongside the two men’s achievements and, by extension, with their views and their talent. We should note the recurrence in the preface of the words tong 同 and xiang 相 (seven uses of tong, three of xiang), first in describing Cui and Wei, and then in describing Quan’s own relationship with the two men; further, we should note that he calls himself a yizhe 益者, a “beneficial one,” in reference to the Analects discussion of “three kinds of friends.”46 In the preface for Tang Ci, Quan claims the power of a shared voice by recreating the community of friends to the loyal disgraced official. Here we find him claiming not just friendship but a political and literary solidarity that is both uncontroversial and very much from the center of power. His preface serves as tribute to the two men and ornament to their poetry, but it extends beyond that, to reaffirm Quan’s own place in this political and cultural world. To understand the theoretical position that underpins both prefaces, we should return to the allusion Quan uses at the beginning of the second preface, a passage from the tuan 彖辭 commentary to the “Fellowship” (“Tongren” 同人) hexagram of the Yi jing. Quan writes, “When the pattern is brilliant and established, the center is correct and responsive. Therefore when the Way is the same inside, and spirits seek out one another, feelings emerge from within and sounds become patterns. With wen, one can observe and flock together; one can compare and stimulate.” As he did at the beginning of the preface for Tang Ci, Quan Deyu uses canonical authority to defend the collective and responsive composition of poetry, but he relies on a strong misreading of the tuanci to support his vision. In the tuanci, the terms “wen” and “zhong” in the line wen ming yi jian, zhong zheng er ying 文明以健, 中正而應 refer to

Jiu Tang shu explicitly praised Wei’s oversight of the examinations, saying that he “denounced the superficial and frivolous, advanced [men of] purity and substance, and was never moved by the powers of the day” 斥浮華, 進貞實, 不為時力所搖. JTS 159.4180. 46. Analects 16.4. See above, n. 40.

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the pattern of the lines being read.47 Quan Deyu instead uses his reading to support the argument that a shared Way inspires literary writing that gives us understanding of and influence over human conduct. Moreover, by referring to the “Fellowship” hexagram, Quan also calls to mind the memorable image of friendship found in the “Appended Phrases” (xici 繫辭) commentary to that same hexagram: In the Dao of the noble man, there is a time for going forth and a time for staying still, a time to remain silent, and a time to speak out. But for two people to share mind and heart (tongxin 同心), that sharpness severs metal, and as for the words of those sharing mind and heart, their fragrance is like orchids. 君子之道, 或出或處, 或默或語, 二人同心, 其利斷金. 同心之言, 其臭如 蘭.48

In this instance, Quan chooses to “speak out” not simply out of courtesy to his two colleagues but to claim his identity as another tongxin, as he calls himself in the conclusion, alongside them. Quan Deyu’s prefaces are powerful articulations of the social and political impact of these collaborative poetry collections in early ninth-century culture, and they help us see the value of defending friendship well beyond a small literary circle. And yet though Quan praises poetic exchange as the test of true refinement and moral harmony among literati peers, his prefaces do not speak to the poets’ individual literary sensibilities or the dynamics of literary exchange as it occurred. For an example of a text that wrestles with the process of responsive composition, we can turn to the “Preface to Ten Poems of Matching and Answering” 和答詩十首序, written in 811 by Bai Juyi. 47. Zhong zheng in particular refers to the relationship of the second and fifth lines, which in this case are broken and unbroken, a particularly auspicious pairing. Wen here refers to the relationship of the two trigrams. However, the move towards reading the line in a social context is anticipated by the Zhengyi commentary, which states, “Only when the junzi affiliates with ‘fellows’ [tongren] can he make the correct Way be realized in the spirits of all under Heaven, and thereby benefit the purity of [all] junzi” 唯君子 之人於同人之時, 能以正道通達天下之志, 故利君子之貞. Zhou yi zheng yi, in Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), 1:86. 48. Translation modified from Lynn, Classic of Changes, 217.

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This preface documents a three-stage poetic exchange: Bai Juyi first composed twenty poems for Yuan to read on his journey to his new post, after being demoted; Yuan then responded with seventeen poems of his own; and finally Bai replied with eleven new “matching” (he) and “answering” (da) poems and also added a preface to explain his feelings. As a detailed record of the stages of poetic exchange, this text is unique in the Tang. Bai and Yuan shared a circle of friends and had been exchanging verse since at least 803, but in 811 they had not yet become the exclusive “Yuan-Bai” pair that became famous in later years.49 Yuan’s demotion to Jiangling in 810 altered the tone of the two men’s friendship, however, and the shock of Yuan’s career setback, followed by Bai Juyi’s demotion a few years later, also deeply affected their respective literary practices and beliefs. In his preface to their poems, Bai Juyi sketches the kind of literary exchange they had practiced before 810 and hints at challenges yet to come. The poems under discussion here are among those Bai Juyi later grouped under the rubric of fengyu 諷諭, poems of social criticism. In this and other texts from the Yuanhe period, Bai Juyi elaborated his belief in the traditional role of poetry as a force for individual and social transformation. In the spring of the fifth year of the Yuanhe reign period [of emperor Xianzong, 810], you, Weizhi, arrived from the Censorate. After only a few days, you were demoted to be a petty adjutant in Jiangling. On the day the order came down, I happened to be going home from court and you had already begun your trip—by chance we met each other in the street. I went with you from south of Yongshou Temple to just north of Xinchang ward [slightly less than a mile], and we were able to talk and take our leave of each other while riding, but our conversation did not get beyond our wishes for each to take care of his spirit and not to let bodily matters trouble us—we had no time to speak of other things.

49. The changhe verse practice became such a habit between the two men that it continued even long after the composition of an original poem. In his 827 preface to a continuation of his collected works, Bai describes “going back to match” (zhuihe 追和) fifty-seven poems of Yuan’s that he had not originally responded to; the following year he sent another fifty new poems to Yuan, with the intent for Yuan to respond to them. The new poems then became a new collection. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3709.

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That night, you stopped at Shanbei Temple, but I was detained by work and unable to go to you, so I sent my younger brother [Bai Xingjian] to see you off and to present you with a scroll of my new poems, twenty in all. They were all poems of metaphorical or allegorical intent, and there was not a word of licentious language or seductive rhyme in them. My intent was that you should read them critically while on the road, and that they should help to dissipate your sadness in the days of travel; they were also meant to bolster your upright spirit and sustain your stalwart resolve. When you arrived in Jiangling, you sent me seventeen poems you had written on the road, altogether five or six thousand words. Your language is powerful, and each piece has a clear point, and as for the technical features of rhyme, euphony, and metrics, they all bear your style. But when I loosened the bands and opened the scroll, I was both pleased and puzzled. Recalling the cautionary tale of Niu Sengru,50 I couldn’t show them to outsiders, but from time to time with a few of our group, like Biaozhi [Li Jian], Jufei [Li Fuli], and Fan Zongshi,51 we read and recited them one by one, and we thought very highly of them. And yet I thought to myself: how could the twenty poems I presented you have provoked your intelligence to make you [respond] this way? Or I wonder if it was perhaps your journey, that Heaven was warping your path and so roiling your heart that it made you respond to your situation with such a degree of passion? But if neither was true, then how is it that your intent and language are so far from that of your earlier poems? 五年春, 微之從東臺來. 不數日, 又左轉為江陵士曹掾. 詔下日, 會予下內 直歸, 而微之已即路, 邂逅相遇於街衢中. 自永壽寺南, 抵新昌里北, 得 馬上話別, 語不過相勉保方寸, 外形骸而已, 因不暇及他. 是夕足下次於山北寺, 僕職役不得去, 命季弟送行, 且奉新詩一軸, 致 50. The “cautionary tale of Niu Sengru” refers to the decree examination scandal of 808. Here, however, Bai Juyi seems to use Niu’s story as an example of the dangers of circulating too-honest writing. For a discussion of the examination scandal and its effects, see Yang Lu, “Dynastic Revival and Political Transformation in Late T’ang China: A Study of Emperor Hsien-tsung (805–20) and His Reign” (Ph.D. diss, Princeton University, 1999), 182–206. 51. Li Jian (style name Biaozhi), Li Fuli (Jufei), and Fan Zongshi were all companions to Yuan and Bai in the late Zhenyuan and early Yuanhe periods, before 810. Li Fuli passed the 803 boxue hongci examination with Yuan and Bai (see their poems in chap. 2, pp. 123–24); Li Jian (biography in JTS 155) appears in numerous poems by both men, and was close to both until his death in 821 (Bai and Yuan both wrote funerary texts for him, as noted below in chap. 5); Fan Zongshi later became better known as a friend of Han Yu’s, and was particularly famous for his “unusual” (qi 奇) style.

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於執事, 凡二十章, 率有興比, 淫文艷韻, 無一字焉. 意者欲足下在途諷 讀, 且以遣日時, 消憂懣, 又有以張直氣而扶壯心也. 及足下到江陵, 寄在路所為詩十七章, 凡五六千言. 言有為, 章有旨, 迨 於宮律體裁, 皆得作者風. 發緘開卷, 且喜且怪. 僕思牛僧孺戒, 不能示 他人, 唯與杓之, 拒非, 及樊宗師輩三四人, 時一吟讀, 心甚貴重. 然竊思之: 豈僕所奉者二十章, 遽能開足下聰明, 使之然耶? 抑又不知 足下是行也, 天將屈足下之道, 激足下之心, 使感時發憤而臻於此耶? 若 兩不然者, 何立意措辭, 與足下前時詩如此之相遠也?52

Like Quan Deyu, Bai Juyi sees the affective model of literary composition not only as the means to transform society (in the ancient project of jiaohua 教化), but also as the means to change his friend’s state of mind. But where Quan’s discussions of literary responsiveness among friends seem intended to frame his political arguments, Bai probes the aesthetic implications of this model more deeply. He is puzzled: how did his poems of social criticism meant to divert his friend instead provoke Yuan to responses so different in tone from Yuan’s earlier poems or, Bai implies, from Bai’s originals? Bai Juyi’s certainty about the way that poetic composition “works” appears unshaken, but he seems startled by the slippage between the intended medicinal effect of his own poems and Yuan’s biting, even angry engagement. Bai’s concern about Yuan’s state of mind is reflected in the way he handles the texts, restricting their circulation to the two poets’ immediate circle of friends. From one perspective, this move seems meant to reassure Yuan of both the security of their literary exchanges and the approval of their group: the close circle will protect Yuan from the fate of Niu Sengru 牛僧儒 (780–848), whose humiliation for his texts of criticism was devastatingly public. But the preface suggests that Bai hopes for greater influence over Yuan. Bai’s specific choice of texts to “match” or “answer” reveals his desire to influence Yuan through their poetic exchange. Since I admired your poems and also sympathized with your state of mind, I wanted to take all these poems, including the most wild and simple, and match them, but I was tied up with things for a while and had no free time, so I couldn’t find a moment to do as I wished. When the work

52. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:104–5.

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period ended, I took a long sick leave, and during the idleness of leave I opened the scroll to the best pieces and wrote ten in continuation of them, at least 3,000 words. Among the ones I saw, I couldn’t take a different position from you on those poems I agreed with, and I couldn’t bring myself to concur with those poems I disagreed with. The poems I composed in agreement with yours I called “matches,” and the ones in which I took a different position from you I called “replies.” At the same time, I wrote down my “Matching a Dream of Wandering in Spring” separately and put it at the end of the main collection, along with others I did not match. Not long ago when you and I were preparing for examinations, I often shared brush and inkstone with you, and every time we rested our brushes, we looked at one another, and grieved that our intent was too obvious and our scope too broad. When our scope was too broad, our language became too elaborate [verbose and complicated], and when our intent was too obvious, our words were too provocative. Thus when you and I compose together, this is our strength, and it is also our failing. In the preface you sent me, in fact you spoke against writing too elaborately,53 and of those poems that I match here there are still some that suffer from this failing. But I will wait until I see you again, and then each of us will take out the poems we wrote and then edit out their tedious parts and clarify their meaning. As for the rest, I have written all here. 僕既羨足下詩, 又憐足下心, 盡欲引狂簡而和之, 屬直宿拘牽, 居無暇日, 故不即時如意. 旬月來多乞病假, 假中稍閑, 且摘卷中尤者, 繼成十章, 亦 不下三千言. 其間所見, 同者固不能自異, 異者不能強同. 同者謂之和, 異 者謂之答. 並別錄和夢遊春詩一章, 各附于本篇之末, 餘未和者, 亦續 致之. 頃者在科試間, 常與足下同筆硯, 每下筆時轍相顧, 共患其意太切而理 太周. 故理太周則辭繁, 意太切則言激. 然與足下為文, 所長在於此, 所 病亦在於此. 足下來序, 果有詞犯文繁之說, 今僕所和者, 猶前病也. 待 與足下相見日, 各引所作, 稍刪其煩而晦其義焉. 餘具書白.54

Bai Juyi portrays his own poems as natural, easy responses to Yuan’s poetic stimuli—he waited until he was at leisure to write, instead of writing in a troubled state like Yuan on the road—and thus, in a sense, he achieves a truer realization of the canonical model of poetic composition. Dividing his own new compositions as “matches” and “answers” to 53. Yuan’s preface is no longer extant. 54. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:104–9.

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Yuan also allows Bai to agree or disagree, to amplify a shared position or to rebut Yuan point by point. In this preface, even though he criticizes Yuan for an excess of passion, Bai creates the space necessary for the inscription of individual poetic sensibilities. Here and in other poetic exchanges between the two poets in the years that followed, Bai Juyi demurs from reflecting on the differences between Yuan’s responses and his own, preferring to emphasize mutual inspiration over critical response. However, he signals his disapproval of Yuan’s topics in two ways: he places his “matching” poem to Yuan’s “Dream of Wandering in Spring” 夢遊春 at the end of the collection, “along with other pieces I did not match.” Yuan’s “Dream” is an erotic confessional poem that recounts a dalliance with a woman believed to be the model for the passionate character of Cui Yingying in the “Tale of Yingying,” and Bai Juyi’s response to the poem, although titled a “match,” in fact ends with a Buddhist sermon about renouncing passion, and thus constitutes a rebuke.55 Bai Juyi’s silence on certain other poems, which were likely Yuan’s remaining erotic pieces from that year, and his overall organization of both of their changhe poems show him to be claiming both the moral and the literary high ground in the friendship. But in closing, Bai reinforces their bond by reminding Yuan of their days together “preparing for the examinations” and their shared fault of overwriting, and he suggests that when they meet again, they can revise their earlier pieces, perhaps making them not only better poems but more alike in intention. He thereby ends by reframing this literary endeavor as uncompetitive and harmonious rather than competitive or unresolved, a cheerful finale somewhat at odds with his earlier concerns and with the poems themselves. Here we see a productive tension that would survive at least another decade in their exchanges: a criticism or correction may be disguised rhetorically as a complementary response, but the strain that was glossed over could resurface in other seemingly minor choices. Although they appear simply to celebrate the power of friendship to stimulate literary creativity, these prefaces to poetic exchanges expose

55. For further discussion of this poem and its relationship to “The Tale of Yingying” and to Yuan’s biography, see James R. Hightower, “Yuan Chen and ‘The Story of Ying-ying,’ ” HJAS 33 (1973): 90–123; and Shields, “Defining Experience,” 61–78.

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asymmetries of power and issues of control in several different guises. In one preface, Quan Deyu exploits the higher political status of the group of poets he had gathered to advocate for the powerless Tang Ci, while in the other he highlights the political experience shared with fellow officials in order to defend the role of remonstrance in the Tang bureaucracy. In contrast, Bai Juyi worries over the career danger of unrestricted circulation of texts even as he seeks to shape and revise Yuan’s work, and perhaps to bring Yuan around to writing in a manner more like Bai’s own. The exchange between Bai and Yuan reveals the ways that poetic energy sprang from both conflict and agreement. As we will see below, the dialectical energy of lianju and changhe also resulted from distinct poetic sensibilities engaging one another closely—not in a single voice, but with harmony and counterpoint.

Collaboration and Competition: The Linked Verses of Han Yu and Meng Jiao Although mid-Tang literary exchanges frequently appear situated within unequal political and social relations, we also find exchanges in which asymmetries seem to be silenced or ignored. These texts, too, express concerns about the culture in which literati and their compositions circulated, but they do so by offering a counter-vision of literary freedom and social parity. This idealistic portrayal of literary friendship as a space in which poets engaged each other seriously in a competition without serious consequences helps us understand the creative freedom poets valued in their literary circles. We see this in one well-known poem from 806 in which Han Yu paints a lively scene of “literary drinking” (wenzi yin 文字飲) that he enjoyed with Zhang Shu, Meng Jiao, and Zhang Ji.56 [Written While] Drunk, Presented to Secretary Zhang [Shu] 醉贈張秘書 人皆勸我酒 我若耳不聞

Everyone always urges me to drink— I act as if my ears don’t hear.

56. Hartman also translates this poem and discusses its context in Han Yü, 69–70.

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160 今日到君家 呼酒持勸君 為此座上客 及余各能文 君詩多態度 藹藹春空雲 東野動驚俗 天葩吐奇芬 張籍學古淡 軒鶴避雞群 .... 所以欲得酒 為文俟其醺 酒味既泠洌 酒氣又氛氳 情性漸浩浩 諧笑方云云 此誠得酒意 餘外徒繽紛 長安眾富兒 盤饌羅羶葷 不解文字飲 惟能醉紅裙 雖得一餉樂 有如聚飛蚊 今我及數子 固無蕕與薰

three But today I’ve come to your house, calling for wine, I urge you to drink. On behalf of this company of guests together with me, we are each skilled in writing. Your poems appear in many forms: billowing clouds afloat in a spring sky.57 Dongye shakes up the everyday style: his celestial blooms spit forth rare fragrance. Zhang Ji emulates ancient simplicity: a noble crane fleeing flocks of chickens.58 The reason I want to have wine is to compose as we await its intoxication. The taste of wine is cool and bracing, the scent of wine full and invigorating. Our natures slowly swell and expand; our blended laughter now floats up. This is truly finding the purpose of wine; everything else is pointless noise and confusion. The crowds of rich boys in Chang’an, with their fine dishes and rows of fine meats, don’t understand literary drinking— they can only get red-skirted girls drunk. Though they may get a feastful of pleasure, there are some like swarms of flying mosquitoes. Now here I am gathered with my lads, there is certainly no one “fragrant” or “noxious” among us.59

57. This line perhaps alludes to the poem “Stilled Clouds” by the Eastern Jin poet Tao Qian. Tao’s preface states, “ ‘Stilled clouds’ is about my longing for friends. With a full cup of new ale, in the newly budded trees of the garden, I wished to tell of not being able to follow them, and I sighed and filled my collar with tears.” The first couplet of the poem reads, “Billowing and floating, the stilled clouds, / dark, obscuring, the frequent rains” 藹藹停雲, 濛濛時雨. 58. The “noble crane,” literally a crane in a noble’s carriage, signifies an extraordinary person. 59. The allusion is to two herbs known for their strong smells, one fragrant and the other noxious. Han Yu is suggesting that there are no grades of quality among the poets, only different styles, and that they are all capable of the poetic excellence he describes in the following lines.

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Han Yu points to wine as the invigorating spirit of inspiration in this verse, and yet his true intent, as we saw in chapter 2, is to set the talents of his company of poet-drinkers in opposition to the superficiality of the wealthy young men in Chang’an. Like Bai and Yuan, Han Yu concludes that being without posts or simply being underemployed gave them time to compose freely and enjoy themselves: “Luckily my fellows have nothing much to do, / so I hope we’ll exhaust the days and nights together” 吾徒幸無事, 庶以窮朝曛.60 This poem from 806 captures the spirit in which the linked verses by Han Yu and his companions, composed upon Han’s return to the capital after two and a half years spent in an unpromising prefectural office, were conceived. We have no explanation from Han or his peers for their interest in linked verse at that moment; their choice of the form may have been serendipitous. The fall and early winter of 806 was the first time in five years that Han Yu had been reunited with Meng Jiao and Zhang Ji, and Han’s circle at that moment also included Hou Xi, who had been in Bianzhou with Han, and Zhang Shu, with whom Han had spent much of the past three years. During that summer, Meng Jiao was at the end of a difficult period of several years in which he had traveled to many places without a regular government appointment. Xianzong’s accession in the fall of 805 lifted the hopes of Han, Meng, and countless others seeking positions, and throughout 806 and 807 both Han and Meng were helped by a powerful patron, then–Grand Councilor Zheng Yuqing 鄭餘 慶 (748–820).61 But there is no evidence that this particular group of men

60. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 1:306; Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:390. 61. Zheng himself had been recalled at Xianzong’s accession. Zheng’s biographies are found in JTS 108.4163–66 and XTS 165.5060–61. He served four emperors and was known for his advocacy of the “Way of the Ru,” as well as for his use of guyan 古 言, “antique speech,” to the point where it was said that other officials sometimes did not understand him. He was also known for giving away his earnings to friends (not just family) as a point of personal honor. On Xianzong’s accession, he was recalled to Chang’an, where he resumed his position of grand councilor and worked to get men he favored into good posts. Han Yu was given the post of Erudite in the College of the Sons of State. In June of 806, however, Zheng was demoted to a post in the Crown Prince’s retinue, apparently as a result of eunuch slander and plotting against him (JTS 108.4164). When the crimes of the eunuch came out, Xianzong promoted Zheng to the post of Libationer and shortly thereafter to the governorship of Luoyang, where Meng Jiao and then Han Yu followed. Li Ao’s posthumous biography of Han Yu describes

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came together again, nor that any of them composed much linked verse after 806. Other Tang poets would follow Han Yu in composing lianju; more than twenty years later, for example, the poets Liu Yuxi and Bai Juyi composed several sets with one another and with a wide range of acquaintances.62 But Han Yu was apparently an innovator in his rediscovery and expansion of the linked verse form during the early Yuanhe period. It is appropriate, therefore, to see the linked verses of Han Yu and his circle of 806 as a daring but playful literary experiment carried out among trusted friends, with all the risks and failures inherent in such attempts borne by everyone involved. A number of scholars have commented on the stylistic and metrical innovations of the linked verse of Han and his companions, seeing them as yet another example of the mid-Tang quest to become known for being unusual (qi 奇).63 Whether or not Han and his fellow poets thought they would win acclaim with these pieces, they certainly challenged prevailing poetic conventions. There are eleven extant lianju composed by Han, Meng, and their friends in 806; they likely composed more than eleven, but these are the ones that survive in Han’s and Meng’s collections.64 The topics Han and the others chose were rather narrow, limiting their range of expression. Given that there were multiple voices speaking in the verses, individual voices tended to be suppressed, though we occasionally hear the distinctive styles of Han and Meng. Instead, the poets tended to focus on descriptive amplification of the chosen topic, which resulted in forward motion that was sometimes random and meandering, an accumulation of couplets not aimed at a clear conclusion. Zheng’s influence on Han at this point in his career. Hartman, Han Yü, 71–72 and n128. 62. The linked verse form survived through the end of the Tang (in verses by the late Tang poets Lu Guimeng 陸龜蒙and Pi Rixiu 皮日休, for example) and for centuries afterwards. 63. See Owen, The Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü, 116–36, for a close analysis of some of the longer lianju. See also Hanabusa’s discussion of the lianju in Haku Kyoi kenkyū, 171–76; and Tang Yinfei, “Zhong Tang changhe shi shulun,” 57–58. 64. The total number of lianju in Han Yu’s collection (11) was stable through the Yuan; in some Ming editions, the three verses from Meng Jiao’s collection were added. The eleven in Han’s collection included eight from 806, one small verse from 807 between Han and Meng, the “Stone Ding Linked Verses” 石鼎聯句 from 815, and another from 817.

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As Stephen Owen notes, the competition that underpinned the form also ensured “a built-in tendency toward wit and hyperbole, preciousness, and violation of all norms of poetic restraint.”65 Chinese linked verse, unlike medieval Japanese renga, for example, did not have consistent technical rules for composition beyond the use of the same meter, rhyme, and the expectation that one would “link” (lian 聯) to the previous couplet, through either the repetition, contrast, or variation of a single word or image. Of these eleven linked verses by Han and his companions, most are long (the longest is 306 lines); they take journeys, adventures, or landscapes as their topic; and their narratives tend to be impersonal, omniscient in perspective, and sweeping in scope.66 In the case of the linked verse “The Campaign against Shu” 征蜀聯句, composed by Han and Meng, for example, their interest in descriptive amplification resulted in an epideictic poem of eighty-eight lines on the campaign to quell the rebel Liu Pi in Sichuan. The violence and unfamiliar landscape of the topic also allowed Han and Meng to indulge their shared taste for fantastic imagery and strange language.67 It may have been true that poets of linked verse did not have an end point in mind as they began to compose, and yet some shorter mid-Tang linked verses suggest that poets strove to create a coherent poetic statement, even if that statement was trite and unoriginal.68 Selecting topics and, more critically, rhymes that were broad enough to allow most to participate would have been an important ground rule to follow for a successful poetic game. Although the longer, more epideictic lianju are often treated as the most innovative of those composed in 806, three of the lianju composed 65. Owen, The Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü, 118. 66. The Northern Song reading and imitations of the Han/Meng lianju surely cemented the reputation of these poems as crystallizations of Han’s “strange” style. For a discussion and translation of one of the imitations by Ouyang Xiu, see Colin Hawes, The Social Circulation of Poetry in the Mid-Northern Song (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2005), 110–12. 67. See Owen’s translation and analysis of this poem in The Poetry of Meng Jiao and Han Yü, 130–36. 68. As one simple linked verse from 828, “Linked Verses [composed while] Drunk beneath the Flowers” 花下醉中聯句, by Liu Yuxi, Bai Juyi, and assorted participants demonstrates, clichés about spring scenes and drinking with friends were always useful in situations where modest wit rather than startling literary brilliance was called for. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 2:1151–52.

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only by Han Yu and Meng Jiao are remarkable in a different way: they explore Han’s recent difficulties and the two men’s friendship. These three, “Linked Verses on Lodging Together” (Tongsu lianju 同宿聯句), “Linked Verses on ‘The One I Long For’ ” (You suosi lianju 有所思聯 句), and “Linked Verses on Dispelling Disquiet” (Qian xing lianju 遣興 聯句), are quieter and less adventurous in their descriptions. As expressions of Han’s and Meng’s personal views, they also cast new light on the question of poetic subjectivity in collaborative and responsive verse. Moreover, these three poems quite vividly demonstrate the consequences of rhyme choice for the success of a lianju: in “Linked Verses on Lodging Together,” Han Yu chooses a narrow qu sheng 去聲 rhyme category, qin 沁, which poses serious lexical and syntactic challenges to creating successive, coherent couplets. In the other two, however, the large ping sheng 平聲 rhyme category zhong 鍾 and the even larger category yang 陽 give the poets much more creative latitude.69 We can credit the poets for struggling valiantly with the rhyme in the first poem, but the contortions required to meet it seem ultimately to obscure rather than illuminate the topics, which were injustice, the hardships of demotion, and the meaning of their friendship. In contrast, the flow and thematic clarity of the other two poems certainly resulted in part from the poets’ broader choice of rhyme words. In the first of the three lianju that treat friendship, “Linked Verses on Lodging Together,” Han and Meng give an account of Han Yu’s demotion and return, and over the course of alternating couplets (thirty-four lines in total), they express their pleasure at being reunited, with the last eight lines composed by Meng Jiao alone. The poets use images of birds and harsh natural environments to evoke the trials of Han’s recent years, but even commentators disagree on the meanings of some lines. Beyond the challenge of the rhyme, the lack of either contention or responsiveness impedes the flow of the linked verse. The couplets move forward in an enumerative rather than narrative or responsive manner, lingering on some topics, moving very quickly through others, with blurry or too-obvious

69. The Guangyun gives a total of fifty-five rhyme words for the qin group, of which Han and Meng use seventeen, and many of the words are rare. The Guangyun ping rhymes yang 陽 and zhong 鍾 are not only broad groups in themselves, with hundreds of words, but they could also be used with the tang 唐 and dong 冬 rhymes.

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transitions; and Meng Jiao’s first-person voice sounds a bit too loud in the absence of similar personal statements from Han Yu. The core narrative is also unbalanced: this is Han Yu’s story of hardship, which Meng Jiao can only comment on and sympathize with. Han Yu’s opening couplet establishes both the censorious tone and the contrast between close friends and enemies that is explored, somewhat fitfully, in the poem: “Ever since I parted from you, / sent afar, I met with artful slander” 自從別君來, 遠出遭巧譖. The few light touches in the poem come from Meng Jiao’s brush: in the middle of the poem he says, for example, “I’ll get a bellyful of wine to drink with you, / and toppling over, we’ll dance and drink together” 為君開酒腸, 顛倒舞相 飲, a vision somewhat at odds with the conventional image of a depressed and lachrymose Meng Jiao. In the closing lines, Meng Jiao returns to the topic of the verse, which is their physical and emotional reunion: 清琴試一揮 白鶴叫相喑 欲知心同樂 雙繭抽作絍

With one strum of the clear-sounding zither the white crane calls out in response. If you wish to understand the shared joy of our hearts, [it’s like] twin cocoons reeling into one strand of silk.

The pairing of zither and crane refers to the story of Music Master Shi Kuang, from the Shi ji, but it also implies the uniqueness of Meng Jiao’s responding to Han Yu, who was the “white crane” in the wilds. The reference also faintly summons the story of Bo Ya and Zhong Ziqi and the zither that was not played after the zhiyin passed away. The final couplet extends the doubleness of the paired friends (and the whiteness of the crane) into a distinctive image. The “twin cocoons” returns us to the occasion given in the title—they are spending the night together and are thus in that sense “cocooned” next to one another, bound by strands of affection. The title and the frame of the poem celebrate reunion and shared joy, tongsu and tongle, and yet the poem only seems to achieve balance and responsiveness when Meng Jiao takes over the conclusion in his own voice. For linked verses that give more nuance to the authors’ literary and personal relationship, we can look to the next two poems, “Linked Verses

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on ‘The One I Long For,’ ” (806?)70 and “Linked Verses on Dispelling Disquiet” (806). Linked Verse on “The One I Long For” 有所思聯句

Meng Jiao, Han Yu 相思繞我心 日夕千萬重 年光坐晼晚 春淚銷顏容

The longing for you encircles my heart day and night, in thousands of layers. The light of the year sinks toward its dusk; spring’s tears have wrecked my complexion. Meng

臺鏡晦舊暉 庭草滋新茸 望夫山上石 別劍水中龍

The mirror on its stand darkens the old radiance; courtyard grasses nourish new foliage. Awaiting her husband—that stone atop the mountain,71 parted swords—dragons amid the waters.72 Han

This linked verse is unusual among Han’s and Meng’s extant lianju in that it is both the shortest piece and the only one composed to a yuefu title. Although the topic, “The One I Long For,” invokes the two men’s affection and their experience of separation, this is mostly an exercise in style. Meng Jiao was known for composing poems to old yuefu titles, with over fifty poems categorized as yuefu in his corpus, including one to “The One I Long For” (“You suo si”). (Han Yu, on the other hand, has almost no yuefu, and none to this title.) Scholars have suggested that Meng Jiao “wins” to the extent that his tastes inform the poetic choices throughout.73 But to say that Han Yu yields to Meng is not to say he is 70. Although Qian Zhonglian locates this lianju alongside the others from 806, in fact it cannot be securely dated from internal or external evidence, as he acknowledges in a note (2:615). Qu Shouyuan, in Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, places all the lianju in a separate section outside the chronological collection and does not give a date for this piece (2:1130). 71. “Awaiting her husband” refers to the legend of the lady Meng Jiang 孟姜女 who turned to stone atop a mountain (later named “Awaiting-Husband Mountain” 望夫山) while waiting for her husband to return from building the Great Wall. There are many versions of the story and mountains with the name. 72. Han refers to the Eastern Jin story of Lei Huan 雷煥 and Zhang Hua 張華, friends who wore matched swords until their deaths; after death, Lei’s sword called Zhang’s sword forth from the water, and both turned into dragons. 73. Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 2:615; also noted in Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 2:1130.

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absent or unengaged. Instead, one of the notable features of this slight poem is the way both poets play with the possible voices of the traditional yuefu topic “The One I Long For.” Meng Jiao opens with a voice of “longing” of indeterminate gender: men’s and women’s hearts can both be entwined with thoughts of a beloved; male and female faces can both be wrecked by tears. Han Yu’s transition couplet takes the tear-stained face (which Meng implies is being viewed in a mirror) and the images of light as its “link” to Meng Jiao’s lines, but then Han pushes the poem’s perspective further toward the feminine. The mirror, ornament of the bedchamber, reflects fading brilliance—of the day and the face looking into it—while the courtyard grasses grow outside in the conventional contrast of lush nature outside the boudoir. Yet the final couplet shows that Han Yu is not offering up perfunctory versions of traditional images: in closing, he introduces two different emblems of fidelity, one female and one male. In both lines of Han’s couplet, the power of fidelity to one’s mate provokes the transformation of person into object. But by placing the allusion to the Zhang Hua and Lei Huan story in the final line, a story in which masculine objects turn into powerful dragons (in contrast to the story of Meng Jiang, a story of a woman turning to stone), Han Yu shifts the meaning of the poem decisively—instead of a plaint from an abandoned woman, the poem becomes “about” the bond between two faithful male friends. Han Yu does defer to Meng Jiao in some ways: he allows Meng to begin the poem (there are only two linked verses of the extant eleven where this is the case) and perhaps choose the topic; he deepens Meng’s images rather than contesting them or breezing past them; and he never enters the poem as a second individual voice, as another “I” (wo 我). Han Yu’s approach to the poem seems as much collaborative as deferential, affirming rather than displacing Meng’s choices. In addition to the broad rhyme and the brevity of the piece, the fact that each poet contributes a quatrain rather than a couplet also adds to the sense of coherence and flow throughout. We can test the notion that collaboration works better over short distances and that deference might help to create a more coherent, blended style with the third of the three poems on friendship, “Linked Verses on Dispelling Disquiet.” Among earlier poets, Du Fu 杜甫 (712– 70) was perhaps best known for his poems on this topic of qian xing 遣興

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and for his couplet “For relieving one’s heart and mind, it must be wine; / for dispelling disquiet, nothing surpasses poetry” 寬心應是酒, 遣興莫 過詩.74 But the very premise of this linked verse by two poets raises the question of the speaking subject—“dispelling disquiet” through poetry was traditionally a lyric utterance of a single poet speaking to himself and to an indeterminate audience. Here, however, the topic prompts a conversation about the two poets’ values and their friendship. The poem is more technically sophisticated than the other two pieces, with clearer links between lines and couplets (underlined below). Other thematic threads, such as fidelity that endures over time, mirrored affection, and the need for perseverance in times of trial, are developed more subtly. The two poets also experiment with the language and style of the Jian’an poets, particularly that of Cao Zhi, in order to convey their seriousness. For example, the use of the emblematic kangkai 慷慨 (the binome is reversed, appearing as kaikang 慨慷, for the rhyme) is not mere ornamentation, but rather signals the poets’ commitment to the Jian’an model of masculine fortitude. As the poem progresses, however, the poets never fully abandon the topic of friendship, to which they slowly circle back in conclusion. Linked Verses on Dispelling Disquiet 遣興聯句

Meng Jiao, Han Yu 我心隨月光 My heart follows the light of the moon 2 寫君庭中央 and settles in the center of your courtyard.75 Meng 月光有時晦 The light of the moon sometimes darkens, 4 我心安所忘 but how could my heart be one that forgets? Han

74. Du shi xiang zhu 杜詩詳注, ed. Qiu Zhao’ao 仇兆鰲, 4 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979), 2:803. See also the final couplet of Du Fu’s “After Arrival” 至後: “When my sorrow is extreme, I rely upon poetry to dispel disquiet; / but when the poem is done and I chant it, it returns to chill desolation” 愁極本憑詩遣興, 詩成吟詠轉淒涼 (3:1199). 75. This use of xie alludes to a line repeated in three lesser odes (Mao 202, 214, 218): 我心寫兮, especially 214, as in Waley: “I have seen my lord, / And my heart is at rest” (Book of Songs, 202). The explanation of this allusion and those in the notes below are taken from Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 2:617–20.

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常恐金石契 I’ve always feared our pact of metal and stone76 6 斷為相思腸 would sever, making our guts ache with longing.77 Meng 平生無百歲 Our lives have not even a hundred years, 8 岐路有四方 but branching roads go to all four quarters. Han 四方各異俗 The four quarters each have distinct customs, 10 適意非所將 and we don’t wish for things to satisfy us.78 Men 駑蹄顧挫秣 The worn-out nag looks to its trampled feed; 12 逸翮遺稻粱 the soaring bird leaves behind rice and grain. Han 時危抱獨沉 When times are perilous, we embrace solitude and seclusion; 14 道泰懷同翔 when the Way is peaceful, we harbor thoughts of soaring together.79Meng 獨居久寂寞 Dwelling in solitude, we’ve endured quiet stillness; 16 相顧聊慨慷 looking to each other, we’re seized with sorrowful passion. Han 慨慷丈夫志 In sorrowful passion, our stalwart spirits 18 可以耀鋒鋩 with piercing brilliance can dazzle the world. Meng 蘧甯知卷舒 Qu and Ning knew whether to withdraw or advance; 20 孔顏識行藏 Confucius and Yan understood when to go forth or hide.80 Han

76. The “pact of metal and stone” comes from a poem by Ruan Ji, which refers to a “connection of metal and stone” (jin shi jiao 金石交). This was by the Tang a standard image for friendship. 77. Meng’s line echoes his own final couplet from “Spoken in Parting to Han Yu, Li Ao, and Zhang Ji” 與韓愈李翱張籍話別, composed in 799, when Meng left Bianzhou: “I’ve always feared being blocked from family and friends, / traveling alone, with none to know my worries” 常恐親朋阻, 獨行知慮非. Meng Jiao shi ji jiaozhu, 397. 78. Taking the variant 意, found in Meng’s collection, for 異, found in Han’s. The first line of this couplet reworks a couplet from Cao Zhi’s “Tai shan liangfu xing” 泰 山粱甫行: “The eight directions each have their ‘air’; / across a thousand li the winds and rain are different” 八方各一氣, 千里殊風雨. Xian Qin Han Wei Nanbei chao shi, 1:426. The second line alludes to a statement in Jin shu attributed to Zhang Han 張翰, who longed for his native Wu: “In this life, people value what satisfies them, and that’s all” 人生貴得適志. 79. These lines allude to the advice given in the Analects and the Mencius for the junzi to await the appropriate moment to serve. 80. Qu Boyu and Ning Wuzi were both nobles of the state of Wei in the Spring and Autumn period who were known respectively for their great virtue and their ability

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three 朗鑒諒不遠 A luminous mirror truly is not far to find,81 22 珮蘭永芬芳 a pendant orchid remains forever fragrant.82 Meng 苟無夫子聽 If I had not you, sir, to listen to me, 24 誰使知音揚 who would make known the “one who knows the tone”?83 Han

The first remarkable feature of the poem is the presence of two lyric voices, two wo 我, speaking directly to one another in the poem. The presence of the two voices in dialogue is needed to articulate its core theme: the friendship of virtuous men is a living example of moral integrity, one that does not “darken,” or falter, in times of trouble. The verse becomes not only an exploration but a performance of this idea, as the poets swear fidelity to one another by echoing and mirroring the other’s intentions, images, and allusions. Where several other of their linked verses use the first couplet or the contribution of a single poet to establish both topic and theme, here both couplets are needed to establish the presence of the two poets, the theme of fidelity, the pattern of call and response, and the plain, archaizing style of the whole. In terms of its structure, we note both the mirroring in the first two couplets (wo xin 我 心 in lines 1 and 4) and the repetition of phrases from one couplet to the next (yue guang 月光 in lines 1 and 3). The motion of the first two couplets is also responsive: where the first voice describes his heart settling, or “at rest,” in the other’s courtyard, the second voice, which is Han’s, transforms the moonlight into a negative example of fidelity and raises a rhetorical question about constancy that prompts the next couplet, expressing Meng’s fear of separation, in response.

to withdraw (or remain “foolish” [yu 愚], in the case of Ning) “when the Way did not prevail in the state.” Confucius praises Qu in Analects 15.7 and Ning in 5.21. In Analects 7.11, Confucius says to Yan Hui that only they two know how to “hide” when they are set aside, or not employed. 81. Meng here reworks a line from a poem by the third-century poet Lu Ji 陸機 titled “Junzi xing” 君子行: “How can a luminous mirror be far to seek? / One can use it to take off one’s cap” 朗鑒豈遠假,取之在傾冠. Xian Qin Han Wei Nanbei chao shi, 1:656. 82. The mirror is the friend, who reflects one’s self truly; the pendant orchid is a figure from the “Li sao” that signifies virtue. 83. The allusion is to the story of Bo Ya and Zhong Ziqi. As noted in chap. 1, zhiyin signified both musical connoisseurship and friendship.

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Dual voices are not only sustained but also thematized throughout the rest of the poem through parallel images, pairs, and doubling. The figures that are set in parallel are carefully chosen to be of similar status or meaning: the worn-out nag and the rustic bird, the luminous mirror and the pendant orchid stand as emblems for the individual poets and they also convey the virtues of the poem—specifically plainness, humility, brilliance, and endurance. Even better are the pairings that echo the Han-Meng pair, those of Qu Boyu and Ning Wuzi, Confucius and Yan Hui in lines 19–20: in this couplet, the same acute sensitivity to the Way—whether to go out into the world or to retire—is represented by two linked figures in each line. This repeated attention to pairs and doubleness reminds the readers of the two voices in dialogue and keeps them from collapsing into a single voice. Even in two couplets at the center of the poem (lines 13–16), where the poets raise the problem of being isolated and ignored, each mention of du, alone, common in poems of plaint or disquiet, is countered in the following line with a reference to being together. Han Yu’s depiction of himself as a “wornout nag” and Meng as the “soaring bird” is countered by Meng in his responding couplet with the suggestion of their “soaring together” (tong xiang 同翔). Han, in the following couplet, contrasts their “dwelling in solitude” with their “looking to one another” (xiang gu 相顧), recalling the presence of the other poet. The center couplets (lines 13–16) point towards yet another dimension of the poem and the poetics of Han Yu and Meng Jiao more broadly considered: here, the poets invoke “sorrowful passion” (kangkai 慷慨), the quality of forbearance forever associated with Jian’an poets and with Cao Zhi in particular. Echoes of Cao Zhi are found throughout the poem, from the lexical plainness to the simple syntax to the allusions to specific poems. The effect is not one of bricolage or even of self-conscious intertextuality; instead, Han and Meng summon up Cao Zhi as a model—both for his poetic style and his kangkai attitude towards hardship—that they fulfill for one another. This is their advocacy of the values of “antiquity” (gu) in action, echoed back and forth to one another. The final couplet returns explicitly to the theme of friendship and the zhiyin—closing the circle begun in the opening couplets—but then throws the poem abruptly back into the world of 806 Chang’an, raising the issue of power that has been submerged thus far in the poem: “If I

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had not you, sir, to listen to me, / who would make known the ‘one who knows the tone’?” With respect to the roles the two poets play in the poem up to this point, we might note Han Yu’s more aggressive approach to the composition of the lianju as a whole; he is quicker to shift topics, and he “links” less obviously than Meng Jiao. In the last line, however, Han Yu shifts his stance in what seems at first like deference to Meng Jiao. In contrast to the advertising of Meng Jiao that Han had been involved in for years at this point, Han Yu suggests that Meng Jiao the “master” is able to “make known” his friend’s reputation, that is, Han Yu’s reputation. With the abrupt shift from two voices to one, the line breaks open the circle of friendship and exposes the poets’ desire for reputation (ming 名) and praise (yang 揚) beyond the context of linked verse composition. The gesture also reveals that outside the poetic sphere, this discourse of symmetry and equality—the twin cocoons, the pairs of Confucius and Yan Hui, Qu Boyu and Ning Wuzi, Bo Ya and Zhong Ziqi—was a fiction. At that moment in 806, when he was thirty-eight, Han Yu had just been recalled to the capital, promoted in a new administration full of promise, and was already possessed of a growing reputation as a talented writer and intellectual. Meng Jiao, at fifty-five years old, still had no serious prospects and had only a minor reputation for his poetry. The final couplet is painfully true when reversed: without Han Yu as Meng’s zhiyin, who indeed would make Meng Jiao known? In this lianju, the stylistic coherence, thematic responsiveness, and balanced flow that make the poem aesthetically satisfying collude to obscure some hard truths about the two men’s respective circumstances. Although mid-Tang poets clearly enjoyed the technical challenge of literary games, texts like these lianju show that this kind of collaborative composition also provided opportunities for them to negotiate their social roles and identities for other readers. For readers outside the circle, these verses could impress in a variety of ways. In the new political climate of Xianzong’s accession, when Han Yu and Meng Jiao were trying to gain the attention of (among others) Zheng Yuqing, an official known for advocating Ru values and sympathetic to the defense of antiquity, poems on personal friendship that also promoted Ru ideals might have been well-received. Furthermore, poems that publicized Han Yu’s indignation at what he perceived to be unjust treatment would have helped

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him control the story of his demotion to Yangshan in 804.84 And after several years of being out of Chang’an without a regular post, Meng Jiao could only benefit by playing along. By being part of this particular literary experiment, he could contribute his unique poetic talent and the strength of his convictions; whatever attention resulted from circulating the verses would flatter him as well. However, the gap between the idealism Han and Meng explored in their lianju and the political challenges that still awaited them is only visible because of the biographies we are able to reconstruct. Internally, the poems defend a moral integrity that could be shared and affirmed between those of “like mind and heart.”

Contesting the Past: The Nostalgic Exchanges of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen As Han Yu discovered for the first time in 804, political demotion from Chang’an proved to be a powerful literary and intellectual catalyst for many mid-Tang men. Youthful ambitions were tested, and the carefully tended social ties of early careers often frayed under the strain of political threats and long separations. The fate of the Shunzong conspirators who became the “eight marshals” (ba sima 八司馬) punished during Xianzong’s reign came to symbolize the capriciousness of mid-Tang politics, and ninth-century literary collections are filled with poems, letters, and other texts lamenting political demises.85 Whether or not the appointment to a non-capital post also involved a significant demotion in rank and income, the social impact was considerable.86 Quan Deyu’s defense 84. Scholars have a range of theories about the reasons for Han’s demotion in 804. See Luo Liantian, Han Yu yanjiu 韓愈研究 (Taipei: Taiwan xuesheng shuju, 1977) 61– 69; and Hartman, Han Yü, 56–57, for discussions of the various explanations. 85. See Ma Zili, Zhong Tang wenren, 157–99, for an impressive list of political demotions during the mid-Tang, which includes almost every official who played a significant role in mid-Tang culture, and an analysis of the impact of this form of political punishment on their writing. 86. To take two quite different examples, Bai Juyi’s demotion in 815 after Wu Yuanheng’s 吳元衡 assassination moved Bai from the position of Left Grand Master Admonisher (贊善大夫) in the retinue of the Heir Apparent, r. 5a, to the unranked administrative position of sima 司馬, a demotion that had serious consequences on his income

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of Tang Ci at a distance (Quan in Chang’an, Tang in Kaizhou) was an unusually robust and creative effort to rehabilitate an old friend; Bai Juyi’s poetic exchanges and debate with Yuan Zhen immediately after Yuan’s demotion in 810 were yet another lively and more personal attempt to preserve his friend’s reputation. For the best mid-Tang writers, the difficulty of staying engaged across miles and years of separation inspired a range of extraordinary writing and a remarkable variety of responses.87 In the work of Liu Zongyuan, for example, we find letters and farewell prefaces in which Liu constantly reinserts himself into the conversation at the capital by writing to men there and giving young men going off to the examinations recommendations and advice. Conversely, being relegated to a remote post could also turn literati inward, as they rejected the difficulty of sustaining long-distance conversation. Liu Zongyuan’s decade in Yongzhou prompted him to turn towards the local landscape and explore it in his famous “accounts” (ji 記), among other texts from that era,88 just as Bai Juyi developed a new eremitic persona while serving in the south from 815 to 819.89 One of the obstacles to maintaining friendships at a distance was of course the infrequency of the postal service: we learn from letters and prefaces that poets often depended on other traveling friends to deliver texts and news long distances, and therefore communication could be and family well-being as well as on his reputation. In his more notorious demotion of 819 after the “Memorial on the Buddha Bone,” however, Han Yu was demoted from Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Justice (刑部侍郎), r. 4a, to Prefect of Chaozhou (潮州 刺史), a position that was only slightly lower, r. 4a2. Chaozhou was a secondary (xia 下) prefecture at the time; see Tang liu dian 唐六典, ed. Chen Zhongfu 陳仲夫 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1992), 30.746. 87. For a study of the impact of demotion on the landscape essays of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan, see Madeline K. Spring, “T’ang Landscapes of Exile,” JAOS 117.2 (1997): 312–23. Spring’s focus on the authors’ manipulation and assertion of control over the landscape is helpful in reframing our understanding of “exile” for Tang literati. See also Owen, End of the Chinese ‘Middle Ages,’ 12–54. 88. See Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 81–83, for a discussion of Liu’s turn towards serious writing and study during the Yongzhou years, 806–15. Liu’s later years in Liuzhou from 815–19, on the other hand, seem to have demanded more work from him as an official, and his literary output fell significantly. 89. See Xiaoshan Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere, 36–50; and Jia Jinhua 賈晉華, “ ‘Pingchang xin shi dao’ yu ‘zhongyin’ ” “ ‘平常心是道’ 與 ‘中隱,’ ” Hanxue yanjiu 漢學研究 16.2 (1998): 317–49.

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irregular and undependable. But the more painful challenge for these literati seems to have been to reconcile past plans and present disappointments, and poetic exchanges reveal this struggle as well. In the case of Liu Zongyuan, many of his communications to the capital include a reference to his “disgrace,” which seems to have been a rhetorical requirement if he was to communicate with those who were still in power. 90 In the case of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen between 810 and 815, when Yuan was demoted but Bai remained in a capital office (with the exception of his period of mourning for his mother), and then again between 815 and 819, when they were both serving as marshals in remote eastern Sichuan (Yuan) and on the lower Yangtze (Bai)—the successive changes required an ongoing recalibration of their future hopes, their view of the past, and their friendship. More clearly than any other extant texts in their corpus, their poetic exchanges from the period of 810 to 819 capture the struggle to redefine their identities and ambitions, both singly and together, and to reconsider the meaning of their shared experience. In 810, Yuan Zhen was punished and sent from the capital for having offended a high-ranking eunuch in a quarrel over a hostel room: he was dispatched to the position of marshal of Jiangling, a town on the middle Yangtze.91 Except for a tantalizing recall in 815, when his hopes to be restored to a capital post were raised and disappointed, 92 he would remain out of the capital for the next nine years. In Chang’an, Bai Juyi vigorously protested his friend’s demotion, writing at least three memorials in his defense (he preserved the third in his collected works), none of which was effective.93 After their initial exchange at 90. For example, see his farewell preface to Cui Qun (Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:589–90), which also reminds Cui of their long friendship and mutual friendship with Han Tai 韓泰 and Li Jian 李建, or his second letter to Yang Huizhi 楊誨之 (Liu Zongyuan ji 3:849–58). Alternately, without referring specifically to the circumstances that led to his disgrace, Liu would simply state that he was too base to serve as a mentor or provide much help to the supplicant, as in his “Letter in Reply to Tribute Candidate Shen Qi” 答貢士沈起書 (3:860–61) or “Letter in Reply to Floriate Talent Yan Houyu Discussing the Way of the Teacher” 答嚴厚輿秀才論為師道書 (3:878–79). 91. JTS 166.4331; Bian, Yuan Zhen nianpu, 150–54; Zhou Xianglu, Yuan Zhen nianpu xinbian, 139–40. 92. Bian, Yuan Zhen nianpu, 241–47. 93. For this document (a zhuang 狀), see Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3360–64. In the opening line, Bai Juyi pointedly notes that Li Jiang 李絳 and Cui Qun had both “already

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Yuan’s departure, which we saw chronicled in Bai’s preface, Bai in 810 sent Yuan a number of letters with poems enclosed, many of which Yuan selected to “match” (he 和) or “respond to” (chou 酬). One of Bai’s poems that Yuan wished to “match” was the following poem, likely composed in the autumn of 809:94 Moved by Autumn at the Winding River 曲江感秋

Bai Juyi 沙草新雨地 岸柳涼風枝 三年感秋意 併在曲江池 早蟬已嘹唳 晚荷復離披 前秋去秋思 一一生此時 昔人三十二 秋興已云悲

Fresh rain on the ground by the sandy grasses, cool breeze in the branches of riverside willows. For three years, my feelings of being moved by autumn have all been here at the Winding River Lake.95 Early cicadas are already calling and crying; late lotuses again spread out on the water. My thoughts in the autumn of last year and the year before, one after another come at this time. The man of long ago was thirty-two; in his “Autumn Inspiration,” he already spoke of “grief.”96

submitted” memorials on the same subject. Li and Cui had been in the same 803 group of successful bacui exam candidates, and they were also both Hanlin scholars in 810 (Li Jiang was the Chief Scholar), and thus in a position to make a strong case for Yuan. JTS 159.4187–88. 94. There is some debate on the correct date of this poem. Bai’s own note dates it to Yuanhe 5, or 810; Zhu Jincheng, however, points out that the two earlier poems to which Bai refers are dated Yuanhe 2 and 3 (807, 808), and that a line in this poem states “in the previous autumn” (qian qiu 前秋), which could be read as “previous autumns.” In the preface to the final poem in this series, written in 822, Bai states that he wrote the poems in Yuanhe 2, 3, and 4. Zhu thus argues that the poem was written in Yuanhe 4, or 809, and Bai misdated it at some point (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:484 –85). I would add to Zhu’s argument that Bai’s use of the phrase “three years” in the second line implies “three years in a row.” The response poem from Yuan Zhen, however, must have been written in 810, because Yuan states in his preface that he received it (along with other poems Bai sent to him) and matched it when he was already in Jiangling, thus in 810. Bai’s poem could have been composed in the autumn of 809 and Yuan’s in the following year. 95. For a discussion of the social and political significance of the Winding River Lake in Yuan and Bai’s poetry, see Ao Wang, “The Fashioning of a Poetic Genius: Yuan Zhen and Mid-Tang Imperial Culture” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2008), esp. 122–34. 96. Bai refers to Pan Yue 潘岳 (247–300) and his “Rhapsody on Autumn Inspirations” (“Qiu xing fu” 秋興賦). Pan Yue states in the preface to the rhapsody that he began to gray at age thirty-two. Wen xuan 13.585–90; Knechtges, Wen Xuan, vol. 3, 13–19.

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Responding in Kind 我今欲四十 秋懷亦可知 歲月不虛設 此身隨日衰 暗老不自覺 值到鬢成絲

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Now that I am almost forty, I too can understand autumnal feelings. I haven’t wasted my years and months, but this body fails as the days go by. Imperceptibly aging, I won’t perceive it till the hair at my temples has turned to silk.97

At first glance, Bai Juyi’s poem would seem to preclude another poet’s matching, given its introspective and personal nature. It is in fact a poem in the subgeneric category of “autumn reflection” (qiu huai) or “autumn inspiration” (qiu xing 秋興), known through the Eastern Jin poet Pan Yue 潘岳 (247–300), Du Fu, and others, including Bai’s contemporaries Han Yu and Meng Jiao. Like Pan Yue in his “Rhapsody on Autumn Inspirations,” Bai draws upon a range of images that link autumn and reflection on the passage of time: rains, cool breezes, cicadas, and late blooms. In his rhapsody, Pan Yue moves from conjuring the emotional cues of autumn to reflecting on his dissatisfaction with his life, and he concludes with a Zhuangzi-like resolution to remain “free and unfettered” and “relaxed and carefree.”98 Bai Juyi finds no such peace, nor does he intend to. Instead, the poem documents Bai’s ritual performance of the occasion of “being moved by autumn.” Bai’s self-consciousness of the moment reveals itself in the use of time words (years, months, days) and phrases that mark the number of times he has performed this autumnal rite (three years in a row), the age of Pan Yue to whom he compares himself (Bai is “almost forty” rather than thirty-two), and the repetition of qiu, autumn, five times in the poem. By referring to the previous times he has composed such a poem at this site, Bai gives us the sense of listening to an ongoing dialogue, but one that was interior and aimed at his past selves. As a text in the “autumn inspiration” subgenre, Bai’s poem has an explicit goal: to express his feelings about autumn, feelings that necessarily include his response to the passage of time. Since Bai is older than Pan Yue was at this moment of composition, and has practiced this poetic ritual for three years in a row, he “truly can understand autumnal feelings” and is entirely prepared to write this poem. 97. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 1:484–85. 98. Knechtges, Wen Xuan, vol. 3, 19.

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Because the two men had already established a habit of freely choosing the poems each wished to match or respond to, including the most personal topics (as in Bai’s matching of Yuan’s romantic adventure, “Dream of Wandering in Spring”), it is not entirely surprising that Yuan takes up this highly personal piece. In his “matching” poem, however, Yuan Zhen appropriates his friend’s performance of this autumn ritual and replaces Bai’s introspection with retrospection that includes them both. Matching Letian’s [poem] Written up at the Winding River 和樂天秋題曲江

Yuan Zhen 十載定交契 七年鎮相隨 長安最多處 多是曲江池 梅杏春尚小 芰荷秋已衰 共愛寥落境 相將偏此時 綿綿紅蓼水 颺颺白鷺鷥 詩句偶未得 酒杯聊久持 今來雲雨曠 舊賞魂夢知 況乃江楓夕 和君秋興詩

Ten years ago we sealed our vow of friendship; for seven years we always followed each other. But of all the places we went in Chang’an, we went most often to the Winding River Lake. In spring, plums and apricots were still small; by autumn, caltrop and lotus already withered.99 Together we cherished the lonely, still grounds— it was especially at this time that we went around together. Smartweed-lined waters flowed on and on, white egrets bobbed up and down. If one of us hadn’t yet gotten a line of verse, we’d idly ply our winecups a while longer. Since the clouds and rain have dispersed, I only know our old pastimes in dream. It’s worse still for me tonight amid riverbank maples, matching your poem of autumn meditation.100

Just as Bai Juyi offered a matching poem in the exchange we examined in chapter 2 that did not originally include him, Yuan Zhen here intervenes in Bai Juyi’s soliloquy and effectively rewrites his poem. The Winding River in Yuan’s poem becomes the place where they spent time 99. The fruits and flowers are symbols for their own careers, at least from Yuan’s point of view: when young, they were still “small” in fame and rank; but by autumn, the time of this poem, their blossom had withered (shuai 衰). 100. Yuan Zhen ji, 1:77.

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together drinking, writing poems, and even “being moved by autumn.” Writing by a different river, far off in Jiangling, Yuan Zhen borrows Bai’s poem to express his own unhappiness. Moreover, the pathetic tone of the last couplet, “It’s worse still for me” (kuang nai 況乃), challenges Bai’s response to autumn by suggesting that Yuan’s perspective was altered by recent events. Even though Bai is older than Pan Yue or Yuan Zhen—and Yuan was, like Pan Yue, thirty-two years old (sui 歲) by Chinese reckoning, when he wrote his poem—Yuan’s circumstances are more dismal. The matching of poems that in the past had been so simple continues to be competitive, but it acquires a sharper edge during years of political disgrace.101 As Yuan suggests in his closing lines, the exercise of memory is now the only way for him to rejoin Bai in Chang’an. Maintaining contacts with friends while in a remote post posed one kind of test for literati; but controlling the way one’s name was circulating in the capital, in the hopes of being transferred or recalled, was a task of an entirely different order of magnitude, one that required many different forms of communication. One common strategy was to send letters, prefaces, and poems to officials and friends in the capital, in the hope that they would circulate them as news and information that might help one’s cause. Given the frequency of this kind of demotion to faroff posts in this period of Tang history, one suspects that mere “plaint” poetry in the tradition of Qu Yuan and Jia Yi would not have been sufficient to prompt action on one’s behalf. Rather, texts that showcased one’s awareness of official affairs—whether the moral grounds for governance or simply contemporary events and players—may have been the most useful. Yuan Zhen, for example, turned to political allegory and composed long poems satirizing various political ills of the day.102 More personal and autobiographical texts would have been interesting to one’s

101. Other poems, such as two written to his longtime friend Dou Gong 竇鞏 (ca. 780–d. after 820), one of their mutual friends who is mentioned in Bai’s 815 poem “Song of the Southeast” below, show the demoted Yuan Zhen recalling wild times with other friends. 102. For a recent study of Yuan’s poetry in this vein, see Tan Mei-ah, “Allegory as a means to present political advice: Yuan Zhen’s ‘Sacrificing to spirits,’” Journal of Chinese Studies 54 (2012): 161–198; and also Tan, “A Study of Yuan Zhen’s Life and Verse 809–810: Two Years that Shaped his Politics and Prosody” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 2008).

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acquaintances and could be shared among friends; nostalgic reminiscence in such texts also provided an opportunity to rewrite the past. Over the course of nine years of poetic exchange, Bai and Yuan came to realize the potential of this kind of writing, and they seem to have circulated long autobiographical exchanges as widely as they could. Among the poems Bai sent to Yuan in 810 was an extraordinarily long poem, an exceptionally long regulated verse (pailü 排律) of 200 lines, entitled “A Poem of One Hundred Rhymes Sent to Weizhi in Place of a Letter” 代書詩一百韻 寄微之,103 a piece that Yuan quickly matched (in the most stringent form, matching the same rhymes in the same order, ci yun 次韻) with an account that sometimes mirrored and sometimes contested Bai’s version of the same experiences. In the context of Bai’s oeuvre, his initiating poem marks the beginning of a decade of nostalgia in verse and letters: of the six pailü of fifty lines or more that Bai wrote between 810 and 822, four of these poems contain extensive (thirty or more lines in length) reminiscences of his days in Chang’an. Although Bai’s 810 pailü was addressed to Yuan Zhen, two of the other pailü were addressed to other friends entirely, and the final nostalgic pailü of the four, “Song of the Southeast in One Hundred Rhymes, Sent to Attendant Censor Yuan Ninth in Tongzhou, Secretary Li Eleventh in Lizhou, Officer Cui Twenty-Second in Guozhou, Supernumerary Wei in Kaizhou, Rectifier of Omissions Yu Thirty-Second, Reminder Du Fourteenth, Supernumerary Tutor Li Twentieth, and Editor Dou the Seventh” 東南行一百韻寄通州元九侍御澧州李十一舍人果州崔二十二使君開 州韋大員外庾三十二補闕杜十四拾遺李二十助教員外竇七校書 from 817, was sent to no fewer than eight friends, including Yuan. For his part, Yuan Zhen responded to (chou) both the “Poem of One Hundred Rhymes” and the “Song of the Southeast in One Hundred Rhymes,” though at a pace that reflected his own difficulties, including serious illness and a delay in seeing the poems that Bai sent him, in Sichuan.104 103. One indication of Bai Juyi’s own perception of the importance of this poem can be found in its placement in all editions of his complete works: it is the poem that opens the regulated verse (律詩) section of his collected works, even though it is not the earliest of the regulated verse in this section. For a comparative table of the locations of this poem (and others) in all extant editions of Bai’s works, see Hanabusa, Haku shi monjū no hihanteki kenkyū, 521. In all editions, it is chronologically out of place with respect to the preceding and subsequent poems. 104. Along with the “Poem in Place of a Letter,” the poems are “Living in Retirement at Wei Village, A Poem of One Hundred Rhymes Sent to Attendant Gentleman

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The 810 “Poem in Place of a Letter” serves, first of all, as Bai Juyi’s fervent poetic defense of Yuan Zhen, but it is also an epideictic account of the political and social life of ambitious young men in mid-Tang Chang’an, told through the medium of personal memory. The story that Bai Juyi relates here is familiar in outline: he and his friend Yuan Zhen, along with a crowd of other promising young men, spent their early days as Chang’an playboys; then, suddenly realizing the seriousness of their futures, they applied themselves diligently to preparing for the decree examination (the showcase examination of Xianzong’s first reign year), winning victory and sweeping the field. Once they were in their respective illustrious posts after 806, Bai explains, Yuan Zhen’s righteousness made him enemies who eventually achieved his downfall. Bai Juyi closes by portraying his loneliness in Chang’an with only his memories for company, poor substitutes for companions and former revels. Throughout the poem, up until the moment of Yuan’s punishment, Bai Juyi consistently emphasizes their shared success and fame. Sometime in his later years, he added interlinear notes to this and other pailü to explain references that may have seemed too personal or obscure outside the immediate circle of friends. He opens the poem with the frame of memory that immediately situates his readers in their promising first years in Chang’an:105 1 憶在貞元歲 I remember back in the Zhenyuan year 初登典校司 when we’d first risen to the office of Editor, 106

Cui of the Bureau of Rites and Secretary Qian of the Hanlin Academy” (2:874–81), “Fifty Rhymes Playfully Presented to Xiao Ninth after Meeting up with Him Happily in Jiangnan and Thoroughly Talking Over Our Past Pleasures in Chang’an” (6:3825–26; this rather racy poem was preserved only in the Caidiao ji), and “Song of the Southeast in One Hundred Rhymes” (2:965–77; see below for partial translation and discussion). Yuan may have matched others of these pailü even if they were not addressed to him, but no other matches or responses are extant. For a study of Yuan’s pailü and their importance in the “Yingying zhuan,” see Ao Wang, “Poetry Matters: Interpretative Community, pailü, and ‘Yingying zhuan,’ ” HJAS 71.1 (2011), 1–34, esp. 6–12. 105. I am indebted to the notes and Japanese translation of Okamura, Hakushi monjū, vol. 3, 1–15, for the explication of many of the allusions, sites, and practices in the poem. Zhu Jincheng (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:703ff ) also provides many useful notes. 106. Bai and Yuan met sometime during the Zhenyuan reign of emperor Dezong, probably in the late 790s or in 800, at the latest; this refers to the bacui examination of 803.

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three 身名同日授 we received our honors on the same day— 心事一言知 and with only a word, knew each other’s hearts. Weizhi and I passed the [shupan bacui] exam in the Zhenyuan era, were both given positions as Editors in the Imperial Library, and began to know one another. 貞元中與微之同登科第, 俱授秘書省校書郎, 始相識也.107

5 肺腑都無隔 形骸兩不羈 疏狂屬年少 閑散為官卑

As bosom friends, we were inseparable; side by side, we were yet untethered. Carefree and wild, we passed our youthful years, relaxed and unconcerned, serving as lowly officials.

As the two men travel every byway of the capital in Bai’s memory, they inevitably proceed to the center of elite party life, the Winding River. This section of the poem portrays both their revels and their sudden sobering up upon Xianzong’s accession. 31 寒銷直城路 As winter’s chill disappeared on the road to Straightwall [Gate], 春到曲江池 spring came to the Winding River Lake. .... 41 幄幕侵堤布 Tents and awnings encroaching on the dikes, 盤筵占地施 mats and dishes spread out upon the grounds. 徵伶皆絕藝 The command performers were all outstanding artists, 選妓悉名姬 the select entertainers every one a famous beauty.108 .... 殘席誼譁散 As the guests thinned out, we raucously took our leave,

107. As we saw in the exchange poems of chap. 2, Bai and Yuan annotated their own poems in later years, clarifying references and providing context for future readers. They are not dated here, but it seems likely that they were added before being put into a collection for circulation, perhaps before the 824 Baishi Changqing ji 白氏長慶集 or one collection of their exchange poems (which is no longer extant), the Yuan Bai changhe ji 元白唱和集. 108. At imperially-sponsored feasts (which this scene appears to describe), the “command” (zheng 徵) performers and “select” (xuan 選) entertainers would have been selected from the imperial entertainment corps, the jiaofang.

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Responding in Kind 歸鞍酩酊騎 酡顏烏帽側 60 醉袖玉鞭垂 紫陌傳鐘鼓 紅塵塞路歧 幾時曾暫別 何處不相隨 65 荏苒星霜換 迴環節候推 兩衙多請假 三考欲成資 運偶千年聖 70 天成萬物宜 皆當少壯日 同惜盛明時 光景嗟虛擲 雲霄竊暗窺

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on our returning saddles, we rode wobbling drunk. Faces flushed, black hats askew, from our drunken sleeves dangled jade whips. Down the purple lanes came the sounds of bells and drums, red powder filled the roads and byways. When were we ever apart for a moment? And where would we not follow each other?109 Slowly, imperceptibly, stars and frost passed in turn; round and round, the seasons moved on. We two officials often requested leave in order to qualify ourselves for the triennial exam. Fate paired us with a millennial sage, Heaven made the myriad things fitting for us. We were both in our days of youth and vigor, and together we cherished that time of glory and brilliance. Sighing over days and nights we had pointlessly discarded, we secretly peered up at the lofty clouds of success.

Narratives of memory allow for gaps in time and space, and Bai Juyi takes full advantage of them here. With one couplet describing the passage of time (lines 65–66), he jumps from the end of the party scene to a scene of devoted officials preparing for the decree examination. Although the lines seem at first to praise Xianzong alone—he is the “millennial sage” come to set right the empire—on closer reading, they also make a surprising claim. In this version of their personal history, Bai Juyi implies that destiny brought them together with the new emperor, and that the conjunction of the “glorious, bright moment” of Xianzong’s early rule with their “youth and vigor” was no accident; Xianzong thus becomes the catalyst for the full realization of their potential. The triumphant scenes that Bai Juyi goes on to detail in the next two dozen lines—victory on the battlefield of the examinations, rising in rank to

109. Bai implies here that they went to brothels together; in the long regulated verse addressed to “Xiao Ninth” collected in the Caodiao ji (see note 104), Bai makes this point more explicitly and includes erotic descriptions of their encounters.

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their respective posts, public display in full regalia—are told in turn as the necessary background to Yuan Zhen’s fall from his position. In his compressed account of their respective careers later in the poem, Bai Juyi is silent on the precise reasons for Yuan’s dismissal, choosing instead to praise his friend’s honesty, diligence, and integrity. Through such elisions, we begin to understand why Bai Juyi has composed this very long poem “in place of a letter” to his friend. Where the conventions of a letter might require more attention to the sequence or relationship between events, the conventions of the pailü of self-exploration or journey demanded only an experiential completeness, a record of the poet’s own voyage through time and/or space that would reveal his patterning of personal experience.110 The framework of nostalgia—the “I recall . . .” that opens the poem—prepares the readers for the compressions and erasures of memory.111 What is unusual in his account, however, is that Bai presumes to speak for two subjects. In the closing lines, Bai Juyi plays on the meanings of “pursue” (zhui 追), suggesting the difficulty of both pursuing pleasure without friends and recalling (zhuixun 追尋) pleasure. As in his autumn Winding River poem, he portrays himself in a state of decay, just as the trees and grasses of their “old haunts” are withering. 185 舊里非難道 餘歡不可追 樹依興善老 草傍靖安衰

Even though it’s not hard to get to the old haunts, those pleasures can’t be pursued again. The trees by Xingshan Temple grow old; the grasses by Jing’an quarter wither.

Weizhi’s residence was in Jing’an quarter, near Xingshan Temple to the west. 微之宅在靖安坊, 西近興善寺.

前事思如昨 When I think on past affairs, they seem like yesterday— 190 中懷寫向誰 but to whom can I describe the feelings inside? 北村尋古柏 In the northern village, I seek the old cypress; 110. Han Yu also used pailü in this fashion; see Owen’s examination of several such poems in The Poetry of Meng Chiao and Han Yü, 73–89. Du Fu’s long poems in this vein were certainly an influence and inspiration for Bai, Yuan, and Han. 111. For a different perspective on this nostalgic attitude towards Chang’an, see Ao Wang, “Fashioning of a Poetic Genius,” 155–57.

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南宅訪辛夷 in his southern residence, I call on the lily magnolia trees. The northwestern courtyards of Kaiyuan Temple were once “Dragon Village” during the Sui, and in front of the Buddhist hall there was an ancient cypress, the trunk of which still remains. In Weizhi’s residence there were two lily magnolias, under which I would often rest with Weizhi. 開元觀西北院, 即隋時龍村, 佛堂有古柏一株, 至今存焉. 微之宅中有辛夷 兩樹, 常此與微之遊息其下.

此日空搔首 何人共解頤 195 病多知夜永 年長覺秋悲 不飲長如醉

These days I vainly scratch my head in worry— with whom can I share a smile? Now plagued with illness, I realize night’s endlessness; as the year lengthens, I feel the grief of autumn. Though I’m not drinking, it always feels like I’m drunk; 加餐亦似飢 I eat more, yet it seems as if I’m starving. 狂吟一千字 I wildly chant these one thousand words, 因使寄微之 to send them off by messenger to Weizhi.

Although Bai Juyi intends to defend Yuan Zhen’s integrity and actions to others, he also seems anxious to console Yuan, and so in the close to such a poem he would naturally regret the absence of the one to whom he can “describe the feelings inside.” From that perspective, a lament for the loss of their youth would be expected in conclusion, even if it seems unlikely that Bai Juyi did not attend the usual round of collegial entertainments in his remaining years in Chang’an.112 Acknowledging Bai’s exhaustive poetic presentation on his behalf, which he calls “the gift of thinking [of me]” (huai si zhi kuang 懷思 之貺), Yuan Zhen responds to this “poem in place of a letter” using Bai Juyi’s rhymes in exactly the same order, but he gives his poem a more formal and political title: “Poem in Response to Hanlin Academician Bai’s [Poem] in Place of a Letter in 100 Rhymes” 酬翰林白學 士代書一百韻.113 Yuan’s calling attention to the fact that Bai was still in the Hanlin Academy underscores the likelihood that he wanted Bai to 112. Bai’s mother died in 811, so he himself left the capital shortly after Yuan, returning only for a year, 814–15, before he, too, was demoted to a similarly low post. 113. Yuan Zhen ji, 1:132.

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circulate his response poem to those in Chang’an who might be of help. Though he chooses to respond to (chou) rather than match Bai Juyi’s poem to him—a choice that gives him the right to offer an alternate perspective—Yuan Zhen has several obstacles to overcome beyond the technical ones. If Bai had written his piece partly to praise Yuan, how does Yuan avoid seeming to flatter himself in his own poem? Furthermore, how does Yuan insert the story of his punishment without sounding excessively self-pitying or, more dangerously, offensive to those who had supported his demotion? Not surprisingly, allusion is Yuan’s chief strategy for both tasks. By replacing some of Bai Juyi’s autobiographical descriptions with allusive references, Yuan generalizes the original account of shared experience into a parable of youth, in both its folly and its wisdom. Allusions to friendly gatherings that ennobled all participants and Confucian allusions to friendship, as in lines that refer to the “well-informed” and “selecting the good,” make the case for their camaraderie as more than merely pleasurable: allusion allows both poets to represent their carousing as canonically sanctioned activities of you.114 In his self-narrative, Yuan Zhen depicts himself as part of the larger collective of successful young men, the illustrious cohort, rather than someone who enjoyed unusual fame. In contrast to Bai Juyi’s poem, however, Yuan Zhen’s scenes of Chang’an pleasures are both less coherent and less public than the Winding River spectacle we saw earlier. Instead of the grand sweep of imperial festival, Yuan gives us snapshots of wild behavior (recall his own reference to wild debauchery, kuang lanman 狂爛漫, in his poem to Lü Jiong in chapter 2): bumping into friends on horseback, writing up their names, playing drinking games, singing and dancing wildly in the streets, and riding off to the brothels. Yuan’s greater attention to their debauchery seems deliberately aimed at creating a more convincing narrative of conversion in the lines that follow. Where Bai Juyi describes the Chang’an pleasures as a distraction that they nobly set aside, Yuan exaggerates both his sins and his reformation and thereby emerges as a convert to moral behavior and hard work on behalf of the

114. The “well-informed” (duowen 多聞) comes from Analects 16:4; “selecting the good” (ze shan 擇善) comes from Analects 7:21, in the passage about finding teachers among companions.

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state, in a few couplets exchanging the personal (si 私) for the official (gong 公).115 42 轡為逢車緩 鞭緣趁伴施 密攜長上樂 偷宿靜坊姬 .... 57 逃席衝門出 歸倡借馬騎 狂歌繁節亂 60 醉舞半衫垂 散漫紛長薄 邀遮守隘歧 幾遭朝士笑 兼任巷童隨 65 苟務形骸達 渾將性命摧 何曾愛官序 不省計家資 忽悟成虛擲 70 翻然歎未宜 使回耽樂事 堅赴策賢時

We slackened our reins when we chanced on a carriage, but used our whips when we met up with comrades. Secretly we led away imperial musicians,116 stealing off to spend nights with Jing’an quarter beauties. Bumping into doors as we fled the [drinking] mats, we borrowed horses to ride off to the brothels. Singing wildly, we’d tangle up our tassels, dancing in drunkenness, our robes hanging off. Idly carefree, we spread about the boroughs; blocking the way, we held the passes and paths.117 Sometimes we ran into court gentlemen’s laughter, but we always let the alley-lads follow along. Careless in our work to elevate our persons, we were heedlessly destroying our natures. When did we ever cherish office or rank? We never took account of our family needs. Suddenly we realized we’d been wasting our time— quickly, we sighed that we were not yet fit. Forcing ourselves away from addiction to pleasures, we set ourselves firmly to “spurring on” worthy times.118

115. The similarity between this conversion narrative and that of Zhang in the “Tale of Yingying” is striking. Yuan Zhen rewrote this story in other poems in his collection. See Shields, “Defining Experience.” 116. The prefix chang-shang, according to Hucker, was used to specify career members of the imperial staff (Hucker, 115). Here, it refers to female entertainers of the Imperial Music Bureau; see XTS 48.1243. 117. The meaning of the phrase 長薄 is unclear in the Chu ci, “Summons to the Soul,” where it first appears. Wang Fuzhi’s commentary suggests that it is a descriptive compound for the image of mountains and forests set against one another, both dense and tall (Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 315). In a few Tang poems, however, it seems to indicate the rural areas outside a city. See, for example, Lu Zhaolin, “Feasting at the Southern Pavilion in Xinzhou, With the [rhyme word] ‘Lake’ ” 宴梓州南亭得池字: “From the rural outskirts, autumn mists rise; / from the flying rafters, ancient mosses hang” 長薄秋煙起, 飛梁古蔓垂. 118. Yuan Zhen intends a pun here, referring to their efforts drafting essays (ce), which they later collected in their Ce lin 策林.

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As Yuan Zhen explained in a later text, a presentation letter that accompanied a small collection of poems to Grand Councilor Linghu Chu in 819, Bai and Yuan became quite famous in the early Yuanhe for their poetic exchanges, and particularly for their long poetic exchanges that used the same rhymes.119 We thus have every reason to believe that these poems were widely read.120 Since Bai Juyi was still a Hanlin scholar in 810, he was well situated to circulate documents that might help his friend. Given this potentially influential audience, we might then consider the social and political meanings of the playboy ( fengliu 風流) image so celebrated in these poems.121 Yuan’s renunciation of that identity and his “addiction to pleasures” (line 71) signals the redemption that was required if sympathetic readers were to see his punishment as tragedy. The political implications of Yuan’s poem also explain the lack of nostalgic feeling in its closure, a sharp divergence from Bai’s model. Rather than echoing Bai Juyi’s lament for the loss of his friend and the passage of time, Yuan uses his final lines to defend himself through a series of allusions as a wronged victim, a “caged bird” longing to be released. Within the logic of Yuan’s self-narrative, nostalgia would be out of place in the return to the present that closes the poem: once reformed, he had no need to fondly recall his misspent youth. At the same time, portraying himself to be earnestly repentant would be prudent, particularly if some of the same officials he had offended might read this text and be in a position to influence his future. In 815, upon arriving in Tongzhou for a new and even more difficult low-ranking post, Yuan Zhen came upon this scene:

119. Also noted in Ao Wang, “Poetry Matters,” 8. 120. The length and frequency of exchanges from this period is noted in Yuan’s JTS biography (166.4331–32). 121. This outrageousness, or at least unconventionality, extended even to the writing of their essays for the decree examination. As Yuan says in a later note in the poem, he felt strongly that he should write forceful recommendations for the examination, even though others said that his outspokenness would lead to failure. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 309. This note is translated by Yang Lu in his dissertation on Xianzong, and Yang adds that such bluntness “was a calculated gamble . . . a strategy similar to the ‘expedient way through Mt. Zhongnan’ (終南捷徑), in which a person attracted social attention and gained access to officialdom by becoming a hermit” (Lu, 196).

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Seeing Letian’s Poem 見樂天詩

Yuan Zhen 通州到日日平西 江館無人虎印泥 忽向破檐殘漏處 見君詩在柱心題

On the day I arrived in Tongzhou, the sun setting in the west, there was no one at the river hostel—only tiger tracks in the mud. Suddenly, where the broken eaves were leaking, I saw your poem inscribed on the center of a post. 122

In response, Bai Juyi, who was still in Chang’an at the time, wrote the following: On the day Weizhi arrived in Tongzhou to accept his new office but was not yet settled in, he saw a few lines on a dusty wall. On reading them, he saw it was an old poem of mine, whose last lines read, “On green waters, one bud of red lotus opens; / [against which] the ten thousand flowers and hundred grasses have no beauty,” but he didn’t know who it was that had inscribed it. Weizhi sighed over it, but feeling that that wasn’t enough, he patched together a verse and added my poem and sent them both to me. On examining the poem, [I realized] it was none other than a quatrain I had presented to the Chang’an entertainer A Ruan fifteen years ago, when I passed the exams. As I thought over these bygone affairs that seemed distant, as if in a dream, I was moved by reflecting on the past, and thus now respond with a poem in the long line. 微之到通州日授館未安見塵壁間數行字讀之即僕舊詩其落句云綠水紅 蓮一朵開千花百草 無顏色然不知題者何人也微之吟歎不足因綴一章兼 錄僕詩本同寄省其詩乃是十五年前 及第時贈長安妓人阿軟絕句緬思往 事杳若夢中懷舊感今因酬長句

Bai Juyi 十五年前似夢遊 曾將詩句結風流

That time from fifteen years ago seems like a dream-journey— yet once I used these lines of verse to mix with the fashionable.123

122. Yuan Zhen ji, 1:257; Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 639. 123. Here, fengliu suggests the female singers, in particular A Ruan, whose presence in the “fashionable” set of elite young men would have been much celebrated in poems of this sort.

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190 偶助笑歌嘲阿軟 可知傳誦到通州 昔教紅袖佳人唱 今遣青衫司馬愁 惆悵又聞題處所 雨淋江館破牆頭

three It happened that I made a funny song to tease A Ruan,124 now I know it was passed along and recited as far as Tongzhou. Back then it made the red-sleeved beauty sing— now it may dispelthe blue-robed marshal’s sorrow. But I was sad to hear as well of where it was inscribed: on top of a broken wall of a rain-soaked river hostel. 125

The subtle tensions of the two men’s friendship, laced with political and literary competition, surface in this exchange. Dispatched this time to a true backwater, Yuan Zhen is confronted with a memory of their youth and traces of his friend’s fame even before he can take stock of his new circumstances. The plainness of Yuan’s poem masks his feelings; although the desolation of the scene is clear (“only tiger tracks in the mud”), we do not know if he found any comfort in seeing Bai’s poem. As a response, Bai Juyi’s reconstruction of the original poem and its contexts is more self-celebration than consolation for his friend. The long title to Bai’s poem is of uncertain date—the final line “so now I respond with [a poem] in the long line” suggests that it was composed with the 815 poem, but the detailed recounting of the title seems aimed at readers other than Yuan Zhen. Even though Bai claims that the “bygone affairs” seem “as distant as if in a dream,” the inscribed poem of 800 reclaims Bai’s past popularity—mixing with famous Chang’an

124. A Ruan, like Qiu Niang, mentioned in Bai’s earlier poem, was a famous Chang’an performer. Bai refers to both women in a couplet from another of his long nostalgic poems written between 815 and 819: “The most sensitive of all was surely A Ruan [taking 軌 as 軟, proposed by Zhu], / the cleverest talker must have been Qiu Niang” [taking 孃 as 娘, also following Zhu] 多情推阿軟, 巧語許秋娘. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3825–28. 125. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:922. See also a discussion of this poem by Stephen Owen, Mi-lou: Poetry and the Labyrinth of Desire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 52–55, and Christopher Nugent’s discussion of this exchange as evidence of the circulation and transmission of the two men’s verse outside of Chang’an (Manifest in Words, 212–15).

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performers after he had passed the jinshi examination—and documents his continuing fame—which survives, however humbly, “as far as Tongzhou.” By taking Yuan’s poem as an occasion to reflect on their past, Bai Juyi reinscribes his old fame in the new text and gives new life to the fengliu atmosphere the first poem celebrated. For contemporary readers who remembered these years, the poems would remind them of the spirit of the age and the two men’s part in it. Bai Juyi’s self-conscious history of the old poem was then preserved in his collected works. Thus the impact of these nostalgic exchanges is doubled: through circulation among many readers and then later, in the context of collections, the successive reinscription of select events could shape the reading of their personal histories. Only months after he composed this poem in 815, however, Bai Juyi too made a serious political miscalculation that resulted in his demotion to a provincial post. From his perspective, his punishment was not only unjust but also immoral: after the horrific public assassination of Grand Councilor Wu Yuanheng 吳元衡 (758–815) at dawn in the streets of Chang’an, Bai Juyi rushed to write a memorial demanding that those behind the assassination be sought out and punished.126 Since there was apparently great confusion in the court after the assassination, some highly-placed courtiers urged Xianzong to ignore Bai Juyi, and further initiated a campaign to slander his reputation by concocting ridiculous charges against his earlier poems.127 Despite the best efforts of his higher-ranking friends, Bai was made a marshal in Jiangzhou, based in Xunyang on the lower Yangtze, and remained there until 819, when

126. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:4016. JTS 166.4342–43. See also Bai’s 816 letter to Yang Yuqing (5:2769–76), which I examine in chapter 4, for his long explanation of his actions. For the Yuanhe political context of the assassination, see Cambridge History, vol. 3, 625–26, and 630. 127. JTS 166.4342 provides the story that the Secretariat Drafter Wang Ya argued that Bai should not even be trusted with the governance of a prefecture and urged his posting to Jiangzhou. Many scholars accept the story, although there is no contemporary textual evidence for it (see, for example, Hanabusa, Haku Kyoi kenkyū, 56–58; Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:4016–17). One skeptic is Arthur Waley, who notes that the position to which Bai was originally to have been transferred would have been a promotion, and also that Bai had protested Wang Ya’s banishment to Guozhou in 808. Waley, Life and Times, 102–3.

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he was transferred to a better position in Zhongzhou. Thus for almost five years, the two friends experienced together what for Bai was a new test—life in a remote and powerless office. Nowhere do we see the contrast between Bai’s youthful optimism and the shock of failure more clearly, or at greater length, than in his two hundred-line pailü from 817, “Song of the Southeast in One Hundred Rhymes,” where he begins to rewrite his previous rosy vision of his Chang’an days in a manner that echoes Yuan’s own transformation. The 817 pailü was in essence a revision of the 810 “Poem in Place of a Letter” written for Yuan, but this time, Bai Juyi widened the circle to include more men, as we can see in the list of eight recipients for the poem: Yuan Zhen, Li Jian, Cui Shao 崔邵, Wei Chuhou 韋處候, Yu Jingxiu 庾敬休, Du Yuanying 杜元穎, Li Shen 李紳, and Dou Gong 竇鞏.128 What Bai Juyi did for this circle of fellow officials—four of whom (Yuan, Li Jian, Cui, and Wei) were already in political disgrace and three of whom had been demoted only months before Bai composed the poem—was to trade their old collective identity of “brilliant young officials” for another, “men of integrity wrongly punished.” Moreover, by broadening the context of these events to include a network of friends larger than the Yuan-Bai pair, Bai Juyi assumed the role of the scribe of their cohort’s shared memory, and thereby exchanged his personal perspective for the more valuable currency of friendship. It is even possible that one of these eight men other than Yuan Zhen matched or responded to Bai’s poem, though none of the others seem

128. For Cui Shao, there is no biography, only a brief mention in the annals for Xianzong’s reign, JTS 15, which dates his demotion to 816, apparently for also being connected to Wei Guanzhi. For Wei Chuhou (originally named Wei Chun 淳, Xianzong’s original personal name), see JTS 159.4182–83, XTS 142.4674–87. He passed the jinshi in 806 with Li Shen, served as Editor, then a Reminder of the Left at the same time as Bai; Wei was also sent down to Kaizhou in 816, another casualty of Wei Guanzhi’s fall. For Yu Jingxiu, see JTS 187B.4913–14, XTS 161.4986–87. For Du Yuanying, see JTS 163.4263–65, XTS 96.3862. He was among the oldest of Bai’s friends from Chang’an, having passed the jinshi in the same year, 800, and their careers continued on almost identical lines in the early Yuanhe. For Dou Gong, see JTS 155.4122–23, XTS 175.5245. A jinshi graduate of 807, Dou made his way into government through the auspices of Yuan Zhen, who recommended him for positions.

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to have had the poetic skill to reply with a 200-line poem using all of Bai’s rhymes in order.129 In the 817 poem to his eight friends, Bai Juyi returns to the story of homosocial competition and play he revisited for Yuan Zhen in 810, but he goes beyond his earlier poem to redefine that society as a community bound by mutual knowledge and understanding. Bai here compresses the narrative of his demotion into a few couplets, and spends the final few dozen lines describing his isolation in Xunyang and musing over his fate. Although he offers some lines of fatalistic resignation (“Failure and success must already be settled; / even with a sage’s wisdom, one cannot escape it” 窮通應已定, 聖哲不能逾 , lines 163–64), he closes with words that lament the apparent uselessness of the very activity he has just completed—writing poems and letters to his friends. 185 萬里拋朋侶 Ten thousand miles away I’ve tossed aside my comrades, 三年隔友于 for three years I’ve been apart from friends. 自然悲聚散 It’s natural to mourn over meetings and partings— 不是恨榮枯 it’s not that I’m bitter about glory or hardship. 去夏微之瘧 Last summer Weizhi was ill with malaria, 190 今春席八殂 this spring Xi Eighth passed away. 天涯書達否 Do letters sent to the ends of the earth make it or not? 泉下哭知無 Do those in the Springs below know of our weeping? Last summer I heard that Yuan Ninth was stricken with malaria, and though I sent a letter, I never heard back. This spring I heard that Xi Eighth had died. Since I had known him for such a long time, how could I not have been deeply grieved! 去夏聞元九瘴瘧, 書去竟未報. 今春聞席八歿, 久與還往, 能無慟矣.

謾寫詩盈卷 Vainly I copy poems that overflow scrolls, 空盛酒滿壺 and pointlessly fill up my jug with wine.

129. Li Shen, however, experimented with his own form of nostalgic poetry, revisiting his past in later years. For a study of Li’s collection of nostalgic verse, entitled Recollecting Past Travels (Zhui xi you 追昔遊), see Owen, The Late Tang: Chinese Poetry of the Mid-Ninth Century (827–860) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2006), 76–88.

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194 195 只添新悵望 豈復舊歡娛 壯志因愁減 衰容與病俱 相逢應不識 200 滿頷白髭鬚

three These only add to new melancholy— How can one repeat the pleasures of old? My stalwart resolve has dwindled from sorrow, my haggard face is coupled with illness. If we met, you surely wouldn’t recognize me: my chin all covered with white whiskers.130

Even while lamenting, “How can one repeat the pleasures of old?” Bai has in fact recreated those pleasures here in writing for his eight old friends. He risks the “new melancholy” that results from dwelling on the past in order to remind distant friends of precisely the “pleasures of old” that had originally brought them together. In the 810 exchange of poems between Bai and Yuan, social and political triumph occurred in the same vast public spaces, and the men’s formal and informal renown contributed equally to their status in Chang’an. By minimizing the account of his own actions, in this poem Bai disguises the publicity of his personal disgrace, which would have been in fact quite spectacular. Bai’s move away from the public stage here stems in part from a change in the stated audience—the eight men to whom Bai addresses the 817 poem either occupied relatively low posts or were demoted officials like himself. By 817, Bai Juyi’s nostalgia for the past and sorrow for his present circumstances are bound up in the struggle to maintain friendships across time and distance. Bai’s poem of 810 opens with the simple “recollection” of good times; seven years later, he turns deliberately to nostalgia for solace, and yet, by the end of the poem, nostalgia has only created more problems. Where before he claimed, “When I think on past affairs, they seem like yesterday,” by 817, his recollections are more tenuous; the threat of death and loss hangs over the poem. The final line reveals his new fear: that after years of “meetings and partings,” unknown deaths, and lost letters, if the friends were to meet up again, they wouldn’t “recognize” (shi 識) him. His poem attempts to make sure they will still know (zhi 知) him. Yuan Zhen’s 200-line poem, again in “response” (chou), follows Bai Juyi’s rhymes but not his tone. In 816, according to his own account, Yuan Zhen almost died of malaria while in Tongzhou. The dimming of 130. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:965–77.

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his political hopes and the toll of months of illness appear throughout Yuan’s response. Where Bai replaces his earlier concern for their political reputations with worry over friends, Yuan’s perspective has shrunk around him, and he spends the bulk of the poem railing against the inequity and misery he has experienced in recent years. Yuan’s briefer reminiscences of Chang’an in his response poem—thirty-six lines to Bai Juyi’s fifty-eight—focus on their political successes almost exclusively, and contain no references to their companions. After five years of political disgrace, Yuan is more resentful and bitter than Bai. Yuan’s depiction of himself is sometimes self-righteously defensive—“Although the tiger may fall into a trap, / the dragon does not fear the muddy path” 虎雖遭 陷阱, 龍不怕泥塗 (lines 119–20)—and sometimes self-pitying. Stuck in Tongzhou after 815, Yuan hears infrequently from distant friends—and what he does hear, such as the late news of Xi Eighth’s death, noted in Bai’s poem—only pains him. He describes the paths the others took and contrasts their fates glumly with his own: “You fellows were all ‘especially valuable’— / it is only I who am the ‘decayed stump’ ” 數子皆奇 貨, 唯予獨朽株 (lines 177–78).131 In closing, where Bai Juyi confesses his anxiety for distant friends, Yuan Zhen obsesses over career failure and illness in the miasmal south. He responds to Bai Juyi’s rhetorical question—“How can one repeat the pleasures of old?”—with silence. As an exercise of memory that always threatens grief, nostalgia ceases to be useful when its pain outweighs its pleasure. Whether from distress, illness, or perhaps simply the fading of memory, the nostalgic exchanges between Bai and Yuan slowly dwindled, even as the two continued to correspond and exchange poems on other subjects. Bai Juyi acknowledged the fragility of his happy memories in several poems; as he spent more years away from the capital and from his friends, his nostalgic writing grew simpler and more blurry. Vast panoramas of memory that he had stretched over dozens of lines shrank to couplets or even brief images in shorter poems to friends. However, as we see in certain exchanges like the following set of poems, Yuan Zhen refused to match even this fading nostalgia of Bai Juyi’s.

131. Ibid. The paired references in the second couplet are to a comment made by Lü Buwei about Prince Chu in Shi ji 85.2506 and a line in Sima Xiangru’s “Remonstrance on Hunting,” Wen xuan 39.1777–78. The contrast is between men who were employed, or “used,” and those who were deemed useless.

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three Sent to Weizhi 寄微之

Bai Juyi 帝城行樂日紛紛 天畔窮愁我與君 秦女笑歌春不見 巴猿啼哭夜常聞 何處琵琶絃似語 誰家咼墮髻如雲 人生多少歡娛事 那獨千分無一分

Day by day, our revels in the capital blur in confusion— exhausted and sorrowful at the edge of the heavens, you and I. In spring, I never see the laughter and songs of Qin girls; at night, I always hear the weeping cries of Ba gibbons.132 Where are the lutes that sound like voices? In whose house the falling tresses like clouds? Of all the pleasures and delights in this life, of its thousand parts, how are we left not even one? 133

Responding to Letian’s Sighing Over Exhaustion and Sorrow in the [Poem] Sent to Me 酬樂天歎窮愁見寄

Yuan Zhen 病煎愁緒轉紛紛 百里何由說向君 老去心情隨日減 遠來書信隔年聞 三冬有電連春雨 九月無霜盡火雲 并與巴南終歲熱

The fever of sickness and threads of sorrow blur in confusion— over the hundreds of miles how can I tell this to you? As I grow old, my sentiments dwindle with each passing day; letters and news from far away are heard only after years. In the third month of winter, we had thunderstorms straight through to springtime rains; in the ninth month, we had no frost to end the fiery weather. Both of us live out our years in the heat of Ba and the Southland—

132. The “Qin girls” are the singing girls of Chang’an, whose voices have been replaced by the howls of southern gibbons, not found in the central plain. 133. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:1105.

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of the four seasons, who could say we have equal shares? 134

At first reading, the poets simply appear to be speaking past each other. In place of the sharp details of the taverns and singing girls’ robes we saw in earlier poems, in this piece, Bai Juyi seems unable to summon anything but fragments. In the title of his response, Yuan Zhen ignores Bai’s nostalgia and focuses instead on something he can share: the plaintiveness signaled in the second line of Bai’s poem, his “sighing over adversity and sorrow.” Bai Juyi laments the loss of the pleasures and his disappearing memories of them; Yuan Zhen responds that heat and illness have erased even those from his mind. In this exchange, Yuan’s deflection of Bai’s poetic intent seems even stronger when we note that once again he chooses to follow Bai’s rhymes in order. Bai’s profusion of memories (fenfen 紛紛) of capital revels becomes Yuan’s tangle of fever and sadness; the sound of gibbons, a mocking echo of Chang’an singing girls, turns to unheard news; cloudy tresses are replaced by fiery weather; and Bai’s lament for one bit (yi fen 一分) of delight is supplanted by Yuan’s complaint about the weather. In the end, Yuan Zhen recognizes Bai’s habitual turn to memory and diverts it, refusing to join in and rebuking Bai for his sentimental habits. The poetic exchanges between Bai and Yuan about their past reveal a tipping point at which nostalgia’s solace was overcome by the weight of regret or the struggle to survive in the present. For Yuan, it seemed to come after five or so years of hardship; but even in the final years of his time in the south, Bai Juyi continued to refer to happy moments in Chang’an in poems he composed for Li Jian, Cui Qun, Yu Jingxiu, Yuan Zongjian, and others.135 As Bai and Yuan found interest in things and places at hand, both men (insofar as we can determine from the partial state of Yuan’s collection) turned their attention more towards 134. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 820; Yuan Zhen ji, 1:273. 135. These flashes of recollection are situated in unexpected places: for example, in a poem from 818, “Written Up Late at Eastern Forest Monastery’s Double-Pools” 晚題 東林寺雙池, the early spring scene of the pools prompts a sudden recollection of the Qujiang in spring. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:1065.

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their locales. Yuan Zhen’s 817 series of yuefu poems to “old titles” were composed as responses to contemporary conditions; many of Bai Juyi’s casual essays were composed on sites he discovered in the south.136 After they were recalled to the capital upon the death of emperor Xianzong, nostalgia disappeared from both poets’ work. The political impact of long narratives about their youthful success surely would have lessened as each year passed before Xianzong’s death, and, after being restored to higher-ranking capital posts, neither man would have wanted to revisit that history during the reign of a new emperor. Though their poetic exchanges and debates as “literary friends and poetic adversaries” moved on to new topics in the years that followed, they carefully annotated and preserved the record of their debate in their collected works for future readers to discover.

ƒ From the political prefaces of Quan Deyu for his friends and colleagues to the strong claims of Bai Juyi about poetic responsiveness, we discover in collaborative verse a practice that was deeply rooted in mid-Tang elite culture. Collections of this verse could be used to sustain and advertise one’s social network, resuscitate a political career, or provide an alternate reading of the past. The poetic exchanges themselves capture the range of aesthetic, intellectual, and personal meaning that poets created out of what might seem to have been mere literary play. Close friendship clearly heightened the potential and the intensity of the poetic engagement; it also forced poets to acknowledge the subjectivity and the evolution of their “poetic adversaries” in a way that single poetic utterances did not. But cultivated responsiveness did not guarantee shared opinions; and debate, as we have seen in Bai and Yuan’s case, did not necessarily lead to resolution or concord. Whether the challenge was to match another’s

136. For Yuan’s 817 yuefu, see Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 688–729; see also his “Seven Poems on [Local] Vermin” 蟲豸七首, 800–815. For Bai’s essays composed when in the south, see Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 4:2732–42, 2751–62. The literary turn towards the local as a source of consolation can certainly be seen in other mid-Tang writing in the context of political disgrace, as I discuss in the following chapter.

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intention or to refute it carefully, these poetic forms raised but did not settle the question of what it meant to know and respond to someone valued as a zhiyin or a tongxin. As we will see in the next chapter, the same “mutual understanding” (xiangzhi 相知) that mid-Tang literati so often found inspiring could also lead to misreading, conflict, and grief.

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To Know and Be Known: The Epistemology of Friendship The ones who gave birth to me are my father and mother; the one who knows me is Master Bao. 生我者父母也, 知我者鮑子也. —“Biography of Guan Zhong,” Shi ji 62 The Master said, “Alas! No one understands me.” Zigong replied, “How can it be that no one understands you, Master?” “I am not resentful towards Heaven, I do not fault others; I study what is below in order to comprehend what is above. If there is one who understands me, perhaps that is Heaven!” 子曰, 莫我知也夫! 子貢曰, 何為其莫知子也?子曰, 不怨天, 不尤人. 下學而上達. 知我者,其天乎! —Analects 14.35

I

n the course of literati careers, as the bonds men forged in youth and early adulthood were tested over time and distance, exchanging news about events and people became essential to sustaining relationships. Letters, poems, essays, copies of mutual friends’ works, funerary commemorations for loved ones—these and many more kinds of writing traveled across China regularly, perhaps most often in the hands of mutual acquaintances who could serve as couriers. If the match-

Epigraphs: The line from the “Biography of Guan Zhong” is from Shi ji 62.2132. As noted in chap. 1, the story of Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya and versions of this line are also found in the Lüshi chunqiu and the Liezi.

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ing and exchange of poems inspired mid-Tang writers to engage in a battle of wits, the exchange of letters often prompted more serious and introspective writing, particularly when writers sent letters to those they regarded as close friends. As a genre, the medieval letter (shu 書) encompassed a wide range of styles and functions, but by the Tang it had long been recognized as a form in which literati could explore personal and moral dilemmas, particularly in texts sent to friends or colleagues. Sima Qian’s “Letter in Reply to Ren Shaoqing” and Xi Kang’s letter severing his friendship with Shan Tao represent two early, influential examples of this type of letter.1 The extant letters from the mid-Tang period mark a new stage of development in the history of the form: not only do we have more letters extant in large mid-Tang collections (the collections of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan, for example, each contain more shu than any other individual Tang corpus), but letters are also better represented among mid-Tang prose texts than in any period before the Song. More importantly, the literary, intellectual, and emotional range of these letters is unparalleled in the dynasty.2 This was due in part to mid-Tang writers’ constant experimentation with genres and styles. The medieval genre of shu was among the least technically regulated of prose forms; although parallel prose was preferred by most Tang writers of shu, and certainly was the standard for the “auspicious and inauspicious” occasions of formal social intercourse, letters carried few fixed technical constraints such as meter or tonal balancing. In let-

1. Both letters are collected in the shu section of the Wen xuan (41.1854–69 and 43.1923–31). As an indication of the degree to which these two early letters influenced not only Tang composition of shu but also later readers’ understanding of Tang shu, I would note the scholarly debate over the mood of Liu Zongyuan’s letter to Li Jian, collected in Gao, Tang Song wen juyao, 488–89, where commentators discuss which of these two earlier letters Liu’s letter most resembles. For a definition of letters in the Wenxin diaolong 文心雕龍, see Antje Richter, “Notions of Epistolarity in Liu Xie’s ‘Wenxin diaolong’,” JAOS 127.2 (2007): 143–60. 2. The scholarship on epistolary writing in medieval China is still very much in an early stage; to date, the most comprehensive study of letters in Chinese is Zhao Shugong 趙樹功, Zhongguo chidu wenxue shi 中國尺牘文學史 (Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe 1999). Zhao’s discussion of mid-Tang letters is rather brief, appearing on pages 179–90. See also the recent monograph by Antje Richter, Letters and Epistolary Culture in Early Medieval China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013).

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ters by Han Yu, Liu Zongyuan, Li Ao, and Bai Juyi, we frequently find a loose, non-parallel style that later became identified with Han Yu’s defense of guwen, “ancient-style writing,” as well as a wide range of style registers, affects, and rhetorical techniques.3 Judging from the hundreds of diverse letters in the major mid-Tang collections, it is clear mid-Tang literati exploited the topical and stylistic freedom of the shu form in entirely new ways. Letters also give us a unique perspective on the ways that literati negotiated their social relations over the course of their lives, a view that is especially useful for understanding the impact of friendship on literary writing. Though the majority of extant mid-Tang letters discuss political and intellectual matters, as we saw in the patronage letters in chapter 2, some are more personal and a few even intimate. Letters of a more familiar than official nature often included the writers’ self-portraits, presented as a plea for understanding from the reader: these letters sought a zhiwozhe 知我者, “one who knows me,” in the person being addressed. The letter-writer thereby presented himself as both the agent and object of knowledge—the one who revealed himself in order to be known and understood. Such letters disclose new perspectives on both the writer’s self-understanding and his understanding of others. In writing to his friend and former colleague Xiao Mian 蕭俛 (d. 842) five years after being dispatched to Yongzhou, for example, Liu Zongyuan captures the difficulty of staying abreast of events in Chang’an and of communicating his situation to his peers: To older cousin Siqian [Xiao’s style name; Xiao was a relative to Liu by marriage]: Yesterday Wang Shifan of Qi county came through Yongzhou, and told me that he had two letters from Left Intendant Zhang that said you soon will have your wish to serve [in the Hanlin], and thus truly will be aiding the One Who Brings Peace [the emperor]. My happiness at hearing this was great, and if it hadn’t been for Master Wang’s telling me, how could I have known it so quickly? I was happy because my ears and my heart’s wish [for you] were in harmony, and in the end I was not mistaken. 3. See Hartman, Han Yü, 212–25, for a discussion of what Han meant by guwen in his work overall; see also Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 131–36. The question of what exactly guwen meant to Han and others in his circle (and whether its meaning evolved for them) is an ongoing debate for scholars of Tang literature and history.

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I myself am unfortunate, and in recent years have been in danger and peril.4 In an unstable situation, I have lived humbly with my gates closed, speaking but little; even less have I been able to go about with companions, or have many visits to their gates. As for those who seek to advance and retreat [at court], they have all ganged together in despising me, camouflaged themselves, and spread out to fill the marketplace. That which is not brilliantly clear is what I reflect on internally: who can understand me in the midst of this dark obscurity? 思謙兄足下: 昨祁縣王師範過永州, 為僕言得張左司書, 道思謙蹇然有 當官之心, 乃誠助太平者也. 僕聞之喜甚, 然微王生之說, 僕豈不素知 耶? 所喜者耳與心叶,果於不謬焉爾. 僕不幸, 嚮者進當臲卼不安之勢, 平居閉門, 口舌無數, 況又有久與游 者, 乃岌岌而造其門哉. 其求進而退者, 皆聚為仇怨, 造作粉飾, 蔓延益 肆. 非的然昭晰,自斷於內, 則孰能了僕於冥冥之間哉?5

The sharp contrast that Liu Zongyuan draws between his friend’s success and his own misery sets the stage for his subsequent account of himself to Xiao Mian in the letter. Liu alludes briefly to his past disgrace, his association with the clique of officials around the emperor Shunzong in 804 and 805, which led to his demotion in 805. He then describes his current hardships in detail and concludes by expressing his desire to continue his literary writing, which would stand as his humble contribution to the era of “Great Peace” over which the emperor Xianzong presided. But self-revelation could be dangerous even in letters to trusted friends, and the gift of knowledge required that the recipient guard it carefully, as Liu reminds Xiao in the middle of the letter: “As for right and wrong, glory and disgrace, what is there to say? I could speak on and on about it, but it would only add to my crimes. You know all this, but do not speak of it to others” 是非榮辱, 又何足道! 云云不已, 祗 益為罪. 兄知之勿為他人言也.6 The irony of Liu’s swearing Xiao to silence was of course that letters exchanged among friends, like news about promotions, scandals and deaths, were intended to be shared to 4. Liu Zongyuan here uses the phrase niewu 臲卼, an allusion to the Kun 困, “Impasse,” hexagram of the Yijing. Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), vol. 1, Zhou yi zhengyi, 231–32. 5. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:797. 6. Ibid., 3:798.

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some extent within the literati community.7 Whether or not they were filled with hatred and hypocrisy as Liu claimed, there were surely men thriving in Chang’an in 811 who thought he deserved to live in obscure, powerless exile. Liu Zongyuan’s self-representation in his letter to Xiao Mian can thus be seen as his attempt to bridge the gap of understanding not just between himself and his friends, but also between himself and his detractors. When writing to friends and colleagues, mid-Tang literati assumed that they were speaking to audiences outside their close social circles, and in their texts they often gestured towards the existence of that implied readership. However, the intimacy that writers invoked as a special feature of literary exchanges with their closest friends imparted the impression of authenticity and truthfulness in their texts, whether they wrote of political, intellectual, or merely personal matters. This impression is particularly strong in letters, a literary form whose basic functions—exchanging knowledge, extending the circle of acquaintance, and ensuring mutual understanding—helped sustain and, during long separations, even constituted the xiangzhi 相知 of friendship. This sense of authenticity creates the space for self-revelation or, on occasion, for a frank and critical evaluation of the friend being addressed; it also provides a context in which to explore the question of understanding apart from the social realm. Unlike other prose genres that mid-Tang writers also explored with enthusiasm, such as essays (lun 論 or shuo 說) or even more informal “accounts” (ji 記), forms not aimed at any single reader, letters demanded replies, sometimes even forcefully, but they also rhetorically established the circumstances for direct speaking. In this chapter I examine some mid-Tang letters to friends that discuss the problems of knowledge and understanding both in abstract philosophical terms and in concrete personal ways. In letters sent to friends, a few questions about the practice and ideals of friendship sometimes arise—questions such as: How does one come to know friends? How does one discriminate between kinds of friends, and what are the 7. However, in an earlier letter to Li Jian, Liu tells him that he has written letters to their mutual friends Xiao and Pei Xun, and that “when you seek to read [the letters], you must warn [Xiao and Pei] not to show them to others,” suggesting that he is trying to limit the circulation of his correspondence to a small trusted circle. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:802.

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criteria for friendship? In the texts examined here, the letter-writers move from friendship (either a specific relationship or the social relation more generally) to the problem of knowing (zhi 知) with regard to other issues, implicitly or explicitly asking whether the “understanding” derived from friendship could be useful in other social, political, or intellectual contexts. Letters from Liu Zongyuan, Bai Juyi, Han Yu, and Li Ao give very different answers to these questions, but they also reveal that writers often sought to link the understanding of friendship to larger moral questions, whether those were pragmatic or theoretical in nature. This last concern, I suggest, emerged later in any given mid-Tang writer’s thinking about friendship, because it depended not only on a deep personal history of friendship, and therefore maturity, but also on a willingness to reflect critically about his experiences with the same seriousness he might give to literary or philosophical questions. The stylistic and topical breadth of the letter genre and its communicative objectives offered mid-Tang writers a uniquely open milieu for exploring the intersections of friendship and other kinds of knowledge, and for reasoning across different areas of human experience.

Epistemological Dimensions of Letters to Friends Medieval letters between friends often foregrounded the exchange of knowledge and the difficulty of interpersonal understanding, whether that was “being known” by others or understanding the person being addressed. Thus they sometimes gave greater attention to epistemological issues in literary writing than we see in other genres. Such issues included doubts about the adequacy of language to convey internal experience and the eternal quest to be understood by others. As we saw in chapter 1, these epistemological concerns also lay at the heart of many depictions of friendship in medieval China, found in stories as old as the Warring States minister Guan Zhong’s friendship with the faithful Bao Shuya, Guan’s perfect “knower,” the one who understood his hidden qualities when others did not; or in the tale of Bo Ya, the perfect listener who “understood music” (zhiyin 知音) played by his friend Zhong Ziqi. In chapter 3, we saw that the dialogic qualities of changhe verse dramatized

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consonance and affection between poets but also sometimes inadvertently revealed disagreement and misreading, even if the writers chose not to comment directly on the submerged conflicts of their poetic exchanges. When writing letters, however, mid-Tang literati often raised these communicative issues explicitly—thanking the recipient for sympathy and favors, or complaining of not being understood by him, or lamenting the slander and falseness of third parties. The frustration of being misunderstood bleeds through some letters, as in Han Yu’s letter in reply to Li Ao (further examined later in the chapter), in which Han Yu upbraids Li Ao for recommending that Han return to the capital to seek his way: But this is only one issue—what benefit would there be in my going to the capital as you said? If in my relationship with you there are still things you do not understand, then can other people know me? . . . Since those who know me are certainly few, and those who know and love me and yet are not spiteful towards me are even fewer, then with nothing with which to support my family, and with no one to follow [in some employ], how in the end would I manage? 此一事耳. 足下謂我入京城, 有所益乎? 僕之有子猶有不知者, 時人能知 我哉? . . . 其知我者固少, 知而相愛不相忌者又加少, 內無所資, 外無所 從, 終安所為乎?8

In this reply to Li Ao, Han Yu portrays Li’s misguided advice as a blow similar to the “spite” Han had come to expect from others, since Li Ao was counted among the zhiwozhe in Han’s close circle. By openly discussing their misunderstanding, Han Yu reveals to Li Ao how much he depends upon his friend’s emotional and intellectual solidarity, and he betrays anxiety about the effectiveness of his letter to communicate his true feelings. Basic linguistic features of epistolary writing, including terms for addressing the recipient and conventions for expressing feeling, could be used to intensify the impression of understanding between writer and recipient.9 Shifting style register up or down to express distance or inti8. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1387; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:773. 9. Scholars of Western epistolary practice have explored this issue at great length

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macy was a common feature of letters between friends, for example, and could underscore shared feeling or emphasize disapproval. Unlike poems of contemplative reflection or plaint, which were composed in an unequivocally solitary “I” voice with no expectation of response, letters depended at least rhetorically on the presence of a listening, reading “you,” someone whose name and presence were uttered in the letter, sometimes repeatedly.10 Therefore, not only the desire but even the assumption that one would be read and understood by the recipient was always latent in letters.11 However, the epistemological problems broached in letters to friends extended beyond interpersonal relations and sometimes touched on the acquisition of knowledge in relation to larger political and philosophical concerns. The writers themselves were fully aware of the connections among these different spheres of knowing in the philosophical tradition. As noted in chapter 1, the breadth of the verb zhi in medieval Chinese included both “discursive knowing” (knowing that something is the case), and familiarity, or understanding of a person or a situation.12 This latter in classical and early modern letters and have demonstrated the variety of rhetorical techniques writers used to address it. Gary Schneider, in his study of letters in early modern England, notes that the epistolary rhetoric of physical presence and orality “was a textual way to construct authority, validity, and reliability in the letter—for this mode of discourse could only represent at a physical distance. The use of such language thus points to a deep concern with epistemological certainty.” Schneider, The Culture of Epistolarity: Vernacular Letters and Letter Writing in Early Modern England, 1500–1700 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005), 29. 10. On this point, see Esther Milne, Letters, Postcards, Email: Technologies of Presence (New York: Routledge, 2010), who notes that epistolary practice encodes both writing and reading, and captures the two perspectives of the writer and the reader in the deixis of the text. 11. The reiteration of the addressee’s name in a letter could be used for different purposes. For some examples, see Liu Zongyuan’s critical letter to Han Yu regarding Han’s views on history, where Liu Zongyuan calls Han Yu by his style name, Tuizhi 退 之, no fewer than sixteen times in the body of the letter, a clear attempt to personalize and thereby intensify his attack on Han. (Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:807–9.) A different intention can be seen in Bai Juyi’s two letters to Yuan Zhen, where repetition is meant to emphasize affection. (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:2789–96 and 6:2514–16.) 12. As noted in chapter 1, I adopt these distinctions from Harbsmeier, “Conceptions of Knowledge in Ancient China,” 14–15. There was, of course, a large body of writing on epistemological issues in medieval Buddhism, but we have little evidence that these mid-Tang literati were especially familiar with that work or assimilated it into their understanding of social knowledge.

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form of knowing included the intersubjective knowledge of friendship, the ability to understand others’ minds, and the ancient sociopolitical skill of “knowing people” (zhiren 知人) that successful rulers needed to cultivate in selecting men for government. One could also seek to be the object of that kind of understanding (qiu zhi 求知), or to be renowned and employed for one’s talents. As we saw in chapter 2, even literati who were not in high positions could claim the skill of zhiren for themselves: letters to patrons offering recommendations of “those whom I know” (suozhi 所知 and zhizhe 知者) became newly visible contexts in midTang culture for demonstrating the ability to discern and promote talented men. With such letters a writer could create a chain of understanding that flattered himself, the patron, and the men being recommended. Han Yu draws on this belief in his letter to Lu San 陸傪, who served as assistant to Chief Examiner Quan Deyu in 802, when he wrote to recommend ten men whom he had mentored: “The knowledge of people that is yours, sir, is indeed wide-ranging. Confucius said, ‘Recommend those whom you know,’ and therefore those whom I, Yu, know can also be spoken of” 執事之知人, 其亦博矣. 夫子之言曰, ‘舉爾所知.’ 然則愈 之知者, 亦可言已.13 As we saw in chapter 1, early Confucian texts on these forms of social knowledge argued that they had to be developed with sensitivity to moral principles, chiefly humaneness, rightness, and ritual propriety. Mid-Tang literati found a few key texts of the Ru tradition appealing for their argument that knowing others was necessary to create moral order in human society. The Daxue 大學 (Great learning), an essential text for Han Yu and his circle, elaborated on the links between understanding, self-cultivation, and harmony, and tied the “perfection of knowledge” (zhi zhi 知至) to the “sincerity of intentions” (yi cheng 意誠). As many scholars of mid-Tang intellectual culture have noted, this turn towards the self—the cultivation of internal knowledge, attitudes, and awareness—as a means of reforming culture can be seen across texts of the period, from Han Yu’s “Yuan Dao” 原道 (Tracing the Way to its origin) to Li Ao’s “Fu xing shu” 復性書 (“Essay on renewing the Nature”) and Liu Zongyuan’s commitment to individual

13. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1514; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:892.

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literary engagement with the Dao and with the historical past.14 The links between knowing others and self-cultivation, and between these two goals and the performance of social relations, are drawn even more tightly in this passage from the Zhongyong, another text of great interest in the early ninth century.15 Duke Ai asked about governing. The Master said, “The government under Wen and Wu is displayed on wooden tablets and bamboo slips. When the [right] people are retained, government flourishes; when they are not, government decays. Such men follow a course that leads to the rapid development of government just as earth follows a course that leads to the rapid growth of vegetation. This thing ‘government’ is like easy-growing reeds and rushes. Thus, governing rests with men. Men are obtained by means of the ruler’s own person; his person is cultivated by pursuit of the Way; and the Way is the practice of true humaneness. True humaneness is what it means to be human; to be loving toward kinfolk is what is important here. Rightness is to accord with right; to respect the worthy is what is important here. The different grades of care for relatives and the varying degrees of respect for the worthy are given life by ritual. When those in inferior positions do not possess the respect of their superiors, then the people cannot be governed. Thus the junzi cannot but cultivate his person; in longing to cultivate his person, he cannot but serve his relatives; in longing to serve his relatives, he cannot but know men; and, in longing to know men, he cannot but know Heaven. The universal Way of the world is fivefold, and the means of putting it into practice are three. Ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, and friend and friend: these five relationships constitute the universal Way of the world. Wisdom, humaneness, and courage: these three are the universal virtues of the world. The means of putting them into practice is oneness. Some are born knowing it; others know it through study; and still others know it only through painful effort. But in knowing it they are the 14. See Hartman, Han Yü, 203–10; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 123–47; McMullen, State and Scholars, esp. 246–49, and “Han Yü: An Alternative Picture,” 632–40 and 645–50, offering a critique of Hartman’s reading of Han’s views on interiority; Barrett, Li Ao; Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 163–87; DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance. 15. On the new mid-Tang interest in Confucian texts, including the Zhongyong, that pointed scholars towards the interior life, see McMullen, State and Scholars, 70, 109, and 261.

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same. Some practice it with ease; others practice it with an eye to the benefits it will bring; and still others force themselves to practice it. But in their achievement of it, they are the same.” 哀公問政. 子曰: 文武之政, 布在方策, 其人存, 則其政舉; 其人亡, 則其 政息. 人道敏政, 地道敏樹. 夫政也者, 蒲盧也. 故為政在人, 取人以身, 修身以道, 修道以仁. 仁者人也, 親親爲大. 義者宜也, 尊賢爲大. 親親之 殺, 尊賢之等, 禮所生也. 在下位不獲乎上, 民不可得而治矣. 君子不可以不修身. 思修身, 不可以不事親. 思事親, 不可以不知人. 思 知人, 不可以不知天. 天下之達道五, 所以行之者三, 曰:君臣也, 父子也, 夫婦也, 昆弟 也, 朋友之交也, 五者天下之達道也. 知仁勇三者, 天下之 達德也, 所以行之者一也. 或生而知之, 或學而知之, 或困而知之, 及其知之, 一也. 或安而行之, 或利而行之, 或勉強而行之, 及其成功, 一也.16

Although the passage is aimed at rulers facing the task of good rulership, the text links the responsibilities of knowing others, cultivating oneself, and acquiring knowledge of Heaven in a systematic way that makes them attainable. The responsibility to fulfill one’s social roles perfectly (including one’s role as friend) depended on the individual acquisition of knowledge, including the task of zhiren; but understanding others depended on “understanding Heaven.” Other passages in the Zhongyong describe the qualities of Heaven and destiny that people need to understand in order to achieve harmony and order in the human realm. Here, it is enough to note the Zhongyong’s epistemological confidence—a confidence in the ability of individuals to apprehend moral values in order to perform paradigmatic social roles—that midTang literati read the Zhongyong as authorizing. This was a position that mid-Tang literati generally shared, and that Han Yu and Li Ao in particular advocated.17 16. Translation with some modifications from Daniel K. Gardner, The Four Books: The Basic Teachings of the Later Confucian Tradition (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2007), 119–20. Gardner translates Zhongyong as Maintaining Perfect Balance, and has a very useful discussion of the title on pp. 108–10. I prefer to leave it untranslated. Chen Shuguo 陳戍國, ed. and annot., Zhu Xi 朱熹 (Song), annot., Sishu jizhu 四書集注 (Changsha: Yue Lu shushe, 1987), 40–41. 17. See, for example, the conclusion to Han’s Yuan Dao 原道 (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 5:2665; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:93) and Li Ao’s letter to his younger cousin (QTW 636.5b–6b) and letter in reply to Zhu Zaiyan (QTW 635.6b–9b).

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This passage from the Zhongyong defends zhiren as a path to self-cultivation and a position in government, but it is silent on the practical details of that process. Beyond leveraging one’s acquaintance for political advantage, as we saw in texts to patrons in chapter 2, what other uses could social knowledge serve? Han Yu and his circle were especially interested in translating social knowledge to the cultural sphere and integrating the study of antiquity into their vision of society. In letters by Han and Li Ao, for example, we find that a critical step in defending “those whom one knew” was to substantiate one’s social knowledge with evidence from learning. Han Yu argued in his letter to Cui Qun (examined below) that mere social knowledge of a group of zhizhe 知者 was insufficient to understand the interaction of Heaven and the human realm unless one broadly studied the Classics and histories. Although he agreed with Han Yu on the mutuality of social knowledge and intellectual understanding—that one could support the other—Li Ao did not see them as completely fungible. For him, one could not claim to “know” and understand another person and yet disagree with him over basic principles or understanding of the Way. The perspectives of Bai Juyi and Liu Zongyuan on this question, in contrast, seem less informed by the canonical tradition and more by personal history. Bai Juyi argued that experiential knowledge—whether that meant the lived experience of friendship or long years spent reading and composing wenzhang—made possible other kinds of understanding, including coming to understand one’s destiny. Certainly due in part to his bitter political past and years spent outside the capital, Liu Zongyuan held a much more skeptical if not cynical view of human relations, and he argued vehemently against linking knowledge derived from the social world with the workings of an unknowable Heaven. Though they adopted quite different positions, Han Yu, Li Ao, Liu Zongyuan, and Bai Juyi all defended their individual understanding of Heaven (tian 天) and fate (ming 命) as the foundation for their decisions in the human realm (renjian 人間) and for their definitions of good literary writing, and they used the discursive space of letters to explore those issues. Finally, letters exchanged between friends also raised the problem of intersubjective knowledge and the reflexivity of understanding in ways that troubled the border between self and other. As we saw in the passage from Han Yu’s letter to Li Ao, Han Yu believed that Li Ao, as a zhiwozhe,

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ought to mirror his beliefs and affirm them in their interactions with one another. Knowing and understanding the friend, in other words, often appeared to mean mirroring and recapitulating the other’s ideas or words; the old metaphor of the friend as “mirror” shifts from “reflecting my faults so that I can correct them” to “echoing my ideas to assure me of their correctness.” In the closest of relationships, this sense of shared views was not merely reciprocal but verged on the homological.18 When writing to his fellow disgraced Shunzong official and friend Lü Wen about his new piece, Fei Guoyu 非國語 (Against the Sayings of the States), for example, Liu Zongyuan claimed this: In all, there are sixty-seven pieces, and I named it Against the Sayings of the States. But once it was completed, I was depressed and unhappy about it for days on end, because since the Way is difficult to explain and common customs cannot be changed, in the end, who would be one who understands me? All those who have attained the Way would understand it all right, but as for those [who might understand] to come later, I have not seen them—might they not dismiss it? Therefore, I wished to expunge [my text’s] flaws in order to distinguish what is right and proper. As for one who would assess and complete what I have written, unless it were you, Huaguang [Lü Wen], then who could it be? 命之曰非國語. 既就, 累日怏怏然不喜, 以道之難明, 而習俗之不可變 也, 如其知我者果誰歟? 凡今之及道者, 果可知也已. 後之來者, 則吾未 之見, 其可忽耶? 故思欲盡其瑕纇, 以別白中正. 度成吾書者, 非化光而 誰?19

18. Similarities to the Aristotelian definition of the friend as allos autos, “another self,” are very strong in this version of friendship, though they led mid-Tang thinkers in very different directions than those followed by Aristotle. For one discussion of the meaning and implications of the phrase allos autos in Aristotle, see Susan Stern-Gillet, Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995), 11–19. For reflections on the “impossibility” of the friend defined in this manner, see Jacques Derrida, Politiques de l’amitié. 19. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:822–23. Translation modified from H. G. Lamont, “An Early Ninth Century Debate on Heaven: Liu Tsung-yüan’s T’ ien-shuo and Liu Yü-hsi’s T’ ienlun, an Annotated Translation and Introduction,” Asia Major, N.S., pt. 1, 18:2 (1973), 197. Lamont notes that “the close relationship between the two doubtless remained an important factor in the way Liu’s thought developed until Lü Wen’s death in 811.”

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Liu Zongyuan construes Lü Wen here as not merely a zhiwozhe, one who understands and agrees with Liu, but as one who can even du 度, assess, and cheng 成, bring to completion, Liu’s own ideas. The discourse of friendship here assumes shared principles, and yet it also preserves a space of difference—the perspective of the friend, being close but not identical, could assess and fulfill one’s own work. In contrast, as we saw in the poetic exchanges of Bai and Yuan, Bai Juyi seems to have expected a perfect responsiveness and replication of his own feelings from Yuan at times, and was sometimes disturbed when Yuan’s replies suggested alternate views. When writers disagreed over principles or conduct, the question often arose as to who was to blame: was it the failure of language on the part of the writer to persuade the reader? Was it a basic lack of self-understanding on the part of the writer? Or was it perhaps the failure of the reader, the one who was supposed to fully comprehend the writer’s intentions? These uncomfortable questions surfaced at times in letters to friends, often in situations such as separation or demotion to posts outside the capital where the reliability of authentic communication was even more fragile. As T. H. Barrett has suggested, the problem of misunderstanding might even be seen as a theme of the mid-Tang period, though it was also, as he states, “a convention with deep roots in Chinese culture—the true worth of Confucius himself had gone unrecognized, so his followers hardly hoped for anything better.”20 As Barrett also notes, there were not many traditional models for responding to misunderstanding. Either one chose to persevere in obscurity as an unrecognized sage, like Confucius, or to reject the world utterly, as in the dramatic example of Qu Yuan or the less radical form of the recluse. None of those models were useful in negotiating misunderstanding in the context of friendship, however, where presumably the goal was to sustain the relationship in a productive way over time. Only rarely did the possibility of conflict being personally or intellectually fruitful—like a “mirror” of friendship, a way to reveal some fault or blindness on the part of the letter-writer—appear in extant letters as a response to misunderstanding. As these letters to and about friends demonstrate, the most prominent mid-Tang cultural debates sprang not only from conflicting 20. Barrett, Li Ao, 149.

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interpretations of ancient texts but also from the struggle to act with integrity, both for oneself and towards others, in a frequently unintelligible human world.

Understanding: Using the Knowledge of Friendship When examining mid-Tang letters exchanged between friends, we must carefully consider the many ways that the extant texts may have been shaped through selection, editing, and transmission. The mid-Tang letters that have been preserved in individual collections are the product of both selection—if not done by the writer himself, then by the friends, relatives, and students who compiled those collections after death—and of the random accidents of transmission that let some Tang texts survive and others vanish. The result, naturally, is an uneven representation of letters and types of letters in individual collections. Although the events behind these decisions are largely hidden from our modern-day view, we can assume that those who were able to choose among extant texts hoped to capture the most flattering portrait of the writer possible, including his conduct of relations with others. Some writers clearly preferred the prose letter as a literary genre as well as a communicative tool, and for these writers there was a larger body of polished texts from which to choose when making selections for compilation. The letters of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan, the two mid-Tang writers from whom we have the greatest extant number and variety of texts categorized as shu (fifty-four and thirty-five texts, respectively, not including the many other sub-types of correspondence, such as zhuang 狀, or qi 啓, in their collections), reveal an extraordinary range of topics, occasions, styles, and even emotional states. The letters of Han and Liu also include the greatest number addressed to friends and colleagues. From other literati, such as Meng Jiao, we have only a few letters (none of which is addressed to a friend). Zhang Ji’s two famous letters to Han Yu criticizing him for a lack of seriousness, the only letters extant in the very small body of his surviving prose texts, must have been saved only because they were addressed to Han Yu. In the case of Yuan Zhen, whose collection suffered significant loss after the Tang, the few letters we have likely do

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not represent the original total. Remarkably, his extant collection holds only one letter to Bai Juyi from their thirty-year friendship, the initial 815 letter that prompted Bai’s reply letter on literary writing. In the case of Quan Deyu’s corpus, however, which is filled with dozens of texts in other prose genres associated with high rank and prestige, such as memorials (biao 表), reports (zhuang 狀), and funerary texts (including entombed epitaphs 墓誌銘, spirit path steles 神道碑, and offering texts 祭文), the nine letters in his collection, all of which are quite formal, likely represent a conservative selection from a large body of once-extant texts. In short, where they exist, mid-Tang letters to friends and colleagues give us invaluable evidence about the practice of friendship in the period, particularly its expectations and demands, and about the range of literary styles permitted in familiar letters. But at the same time, it seems certain that the positive portraits of friendship we find in such letters were selected deliberately, and more negative exchanges omitted. It is not surprising, then, to find among mid-Tang letters to friends so many that praise their recipients’ kindness, talent, and understanding. Assessing the number, distribution, and nature of letters in an individual corpus is essential for integrating the portrait of a writer captured in letters with the depictions of the same writer preserved in other genres. The seriousness of most mid-Tang letters, for example, provides a critical balance to the lightness of occasional verse; reading across genres in a collection can sometimes significantly complicate our understanding of individual writers. For Bai Juyi, the relative scarcity of shu in his enormous corpus of over 3,500 texts —only eight letters in the main body of his collection, with two others preserved in the waiji compiled in the Song—gives greater weight to the few letters he chose to preserve. As the hundreds of poems in his corpus to men of his acquaintance suggest, Bai seems to have thought that his poems to friends were better representatives of his literary talent and perhaps also of his feelings, and he sometimes titled poems to friends “in place of a letter” (dai shu 代書). Of the ten letters in his collection, five are addressed to men whom he labeled close friends or acquaintances, naming them as you 友, zhiwozhe 知我者, or similar terms: one to a cousin by marriage, Yang Yuqing 楊 虞卿 (cousin to his wife, Madam Yang 楊氏), two to Yuan Zhen, one to Cui Qun, and one late letter to Liu Yuxi, written in the years when Liu became one of Bai’s closest friends. Two of the others are letters to

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patrons (one on behalf of someone else) written early in his career, and two are addressed to Buddhist monks. More importantly, of the five letters sent to friends, four were written within the first three years of Bai’s time in Jiangzhou, between 815 and 817. Therefore, not only do these four letters give us a very consistent view of Bai’s conduct of friendship, but they also date from a period when he was facing new trials without the nearby presence of friends. His many poems to friends and colleagues dating to this period express similar feelings of sorrow and resignation, but they do not contain the extensive reflection and self-analysis that we find in the letters. Throughout his compositions from the years he spent in the south, the extremity of his situation shaped the self-portrait he was crafting and strengthened his appeal for sympathy. Bai’s long letter to Yang Yuqing, written less than a year after arriving in the town of Xunyang on the Yangtze River, provides the fullest account of his actions leading up to his 815 demotion found in his corpus. But Bai covers the shocking assassination of Wu Yuanheng and its aftermath only briefly, in his introduction; instead, fully half the letter is devoted to discussing Yang. In its center sections, Bai rhetorically constructs Yang as the perfect friend and reader; he describes Yang as faithful, compassionate, and trustworthy, and he implicitly calls on him to serve as a mediator and to transmit news of him to their mutual friends. The historical irony of this letter, however, is that Yang Yuqing seems to have figured little in Bai Juyi’s life in later years, perhaps because Yang was in fact an unsavory person, as his Jiu Tang shu and Xin Tang shu biographies suggest.21 Whatever Yang’s character or the true nature of the friendship between the two men was, Bai Juyi’s detailed portrait of how 21. JTS 176.4561–63 and XTS 175.5247–49. Zhu Jincheng (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2773) discusses the question of Yang’s character in his notes to the letter; the evidence is very thin for the Yuanhe era (Yang passed the jinshi in 810). Although both biographies include a remonstrance memorial by Yang to the young Muzong criticizing his frivolity, Yang is accused in both of being avaricious, sycophantic, and allied with Niu Sengru’s clique in the 820s and 830s. However, there are no contemporary accounts of his conduct during this time that might complement or counter Bai’s picture of him. We do know that he was a member of the Hongnong Yang clan (son of Yang Ning 寧), some of whose members were well known for their corruption in the early ninth century. Although there are poems addressed to Yang from earlier in Bai’s career, there are only a few scattered mentions of Yang in later poems (e.g., Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 3: 2214), and no further letters to him, suggesting that they were not close after the 820s.

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he came to know Yang through his writing and conduct reveals the contemporary standards and high expectations of true friendship. Bai opens the letter by returning to their moment of separation, the morning after he received the orders to leave; he then rehearses the events leading up to his punishment and the futility of his friends’ defense of him. To Shigao [Yang’s style name]: When I returned to the capital again,22 you had been posted in Hu district and were fettered with official work, so we rarely saw one another; within the space of a half a year or so, we only met to talk and laugh three or four times. But when the order for my demotion came down, and I had to head east the very next day, you came from the western part of the city to see me, all the way to Zhaoguo Ward, but you did not make it in time. You then rode your horse all the way to the Chan River, [where] we were finally able to clasp hands; with pity you bade farewell, and we spoke of nothing but that. Since then, although there have been a few letters back and forth, they did not go beyond asking about conditions on the road and reporting on health. My pent-up feelings have been expanding without release, and I have long wished to lay it all out to my companions. In the sixth month of last year, brigands killed Grand Councilor of the Right [Wu Yuanheng] in the middle of the boulevard, splattering blood and marrow, crushing hair and flesh, to an extent I cannot bear to tell. 師臯足下: 自僕再來京師, 足下守官鄠縣, 吏職拘絆, 相見甚稀, 凡半年 餘, 與足下開口而笑者, 不過三四. 及僕左降詔下, 明日而東, 足下從城西 來, 抵昭國坊, 已不及矣. 走馬至滻水才及一執手, 憫然而訣, 言不及他. 邇來雖手札一二往來, 亦不過問道途報健否而已. 鬱結之志, 曠然未舒, 思欲一陳左右者久矣. 去年六月, 盜殺右丞相於通衢中, 迸血髓, 磔髮肉, 所不忍道.23

The next passage describes Bai’s actions in submitting a memorial demanding that the assassins be pursued and punished; high-ranking officials at court objected and persecuted Bai for his temerity. Bai defends 22. In 814, after mourning for his mother. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, “Bai Juyi nianpu jianbian,” 6:4015. 23. For this incident, see Wu Yuanheng’s biographies ( JTS 157.4160–61 and XTS 152.4834–35). Wu strongly supported military action against rebellious military governors; his assassination was apparently funded by the military governor of Pinglu. See ZZTJ 239.7717 and 241.7767; and Twitchett, Cambridge History, vol. 3, 531–32, 625–26.

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his plain speaking as an appropriate response to the horrible event, and ties it to his earlier forthright conduct in the Hanlin Academy and as an official generally.24 To be found guilty for this [act of speaking out plainly], is it not grievous? And yet my close colleagues supported me even further, and my companions only believed me even more; but to be believed by those near to one but not believed by those who are distant, is this not truly to be despised? But since those nearby are few, and those distant are many, [the fact that] the many won out and the few were overcome is perhaps only fitting. 以此得罪,可不悲乎? 然而寮友益相重, 交游益相信, 信於近而不信於遠, 亦何恨哉? 近者少, 遠者多, 多者勝, 少者不勝, 又其宜矣.

Opening with a replay of their sudden parting allows Bai to frame the letter as a continuation of that intimate moment, and it implicitly defines his letter of self-disclosure as a gift of trust in return. In the center sections of the letter, Bai turns to their personal relationship, and he attests to his true knowledge of Yang by denying that their bond was based merely on the length of their acquaintance or the fact that Bai had married a woman from the Yang clan. This part of the letter might be understood as Bai Juyi’s personal philosophy of friendship. By taking up the theme of the match between words and conduct in friendship, Bai argues that interpersonal knowledge breeds trust in human relationships; by explaining their mutual observation of each other, he defends their shared honesty and sincerity. Shigao! That I do not utter these words to others and only utter them to you, Shigao, is because you are one who knows me—how can there be shame between us? If I felt shame before you, Shigao, I would indeed not utter these words. Furthermore, our relationship began in Xuancheng [before Bai had come to Chang’an in 799] where we were first acquainted, 24. The lengths to which the officials opposed to Bai went to find him guilty were apparently ludicrous, and included inventing a story about Bai’s composing poems that were disrespectful of his own mother; it is found in Bai’s JTS biography (166.4344–45). See Waley, The Life and Times of Po Chü-yi, 101–4, for a discussion of this incident. Waley translates the passage that I omit here on p. 103, though he does not note that the source is Bai’s letter to Yang.

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and has lasted these past seventeen or eighteen years—we can indeed be called “old” [friends]. And as for my wife, she is none other than your uncle’s younger sister, and thus we can indeed be called “intimate.” To be as intimate as this, known to one another as long as this, what could increase our human feeling towards each other? However, our mutual understanding of each other doesn’t rest in this. What does it rest in? In noble families, what happens within the family gates, friends are unable to know; what happens outside the gates, marriage kin are unable to know. One must rely on both friends and marriage kin and only then understand the [person or situation] in the round. You have observed me in official service, in selecting friends, and in receiving guests—what do you make of me [from those actions]? You have also observed me comforting those in my own family, taking care of my wife and child, tending to my servants—and what do you make of me [from those actions]? As for those few who are close to me, I dare not but exhaust my heart in their service—how much less so for those greater and more distant? The reason I say that I feel no shame and thus utter these words indeed comes from my knowledge of you. Beyond your filial reverence and friendly care, I can say generally the following [about you]. When you had not yet taken the examinations, you composed a fu on the virtuous, the worthy, and the direct in speech [alluding to Analects 16.4], and in its dialogue, the intent was upright, and the words were honest and straightforward; although you did not pass that year, I began to care for you. . . . Your spirit became greater, and your words even more far-reaching, and my great care for you began to increase because of this. 師臯! 僕之是言不發於他人, 獨發於師臯, 師臯知我者, 豈有愧於其間 哉? 苟有愧於師臯, 固是言不發矣. 且與師臯, 始於宣城相識, 迨於今十 七八年, 可謂故矣. 又僕之妻, 即足下從父妹, 可謂親矣. 親如是, 故如 是, 人之情又何加焉? 然僕與足下相知則不在此. 何者? 夫士大夫家, 閨門之內, 朋友不能知 也. 閨門之外, 姻族不能知也. 必待友且姻者, 然後周知之. 足下視僕蒞 官事, 擇交友, 接賓客何如哉? 又視僕撫骨肉, 待妻子, 馭僮僕, 又何如 哉? 小者近者尚不敢不盡其心, 況大者遠者乎? 所謂斯言無愧而後發 矣, 亦猶僕之知師臯也. 師臯孝敬友愛之外, 可略而言: 足下未應舉時, 嘗充賢良直言之賦, 其 所對問, 志磊磊而詞諤諤, 雖不得第, 僕始愛之. . . . 志益大而言益遠, 而 僕愛重之心繇是加焉.

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Bai Juyi’s rapid shifts of topic almost obscure the central theme of the letter: acquiring knowledge through a combination of experience, observation, and external evidence. With respect to his own recent history, Bai first defends his actions vigorously as the conduct of a man of conscience who was misunderstood by those in power. He then uses every bit of evidence he can muster to argue that he and Yang know one another fully (zhou zhi 周知), and to contend that this knowledge came not merely from their being longtime friends or relatives but was also substantiated by literary composition (Yang’s writing) and their mutual observation of service towards others. Although he never makes a direct request of Yang, his description of the friends who sought to defend him in Chang’an (in a section not included here, Bai mentions the names of four of them) includes them in the potential readership of the letter, thereby indirectly giving Yang permission to circulate it. Bai rhetorically closes the circle of friendship tightly around Yang and himself by calling Yang a zhiwozhe and considering the grounds of their xiangzhi of one another. This gesture of intimacy—“how can there be shame between us?”—is not merely intended to show affection for Yang; it also presents the utterances that follow as Bai’s honest, heartfelt confessions. When Bai begins to praise Yang as a loyal friend to others whom they both knew, he moves away from personal experience to the larger question of how friendship was performed in ninth-century elite culture: More recently, you became close friends with Li Hongqing, and when Hongqing was a guest in Chang’an, he was terribly poor and sick; against expectations, you attended to his mother, giving comfort to his heart, sacrificing your clothing and food in order to continue paying for medicines and food, and doing all this for years. You also went about with Cui Xingjian, and when Xingjian was imprisoned unjustly, you were concerned about his distress. On the day when the order for his demotion came down, you waited for him in person outside the bureau gates of the Censorate, with baggage and food and supplies to sustain him, and Master Cui saw there was nothing he lacked. More than that, you presented [money and gifts] to his widowed mother and his sisters, and personally took care of the duties of his father’s burial; you comforted his orphaned nephew, swearing to complete his marriage. You found a noble family’s daughter for him to wed and tended to the rituals for his family; when

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he in the jia yi year passed the exams and entered office, his talent as an official was known in the city.25 All of these [acts] could serve to drive out decadence and vulgarity, and rectify through their example the community of literati; it was for this that I have long admired you earnestly. How then would I dare have in mind only our flesh-and-blood connection, or the length of our close relationship? Although my high estimation of you is like this, I’ve heard on the side that there are many of your wilder companions who are not pleased with you. But I fear that as the path lengthens daily, abuse arrives daily, and as one’s rank grows more prominent, slanderers grow in number. 近者足下與李宏慶友善, 宏慶客長安中, 貧甚而病亟, 足下為逆致其母, 安慰其心, 自損衣食, 以續其醫藥甘旨之費, 有年歲矣. 又足下與崔行儉 游, 行儉非罪下獄, 足下意其不幸, 及於流竄敕下之日, 躬俟於御史府門, 而行李之具, 養活之物, 崔生顧其旁一無闕者. 其餘奉寡姊, 親護其夫喪, 撫孤甥, 誓畢其婚嫁, 取貴人子為婦, 而禮法行於家. 由甲乙科入官, 而吏 聲聞於邑. 凡此者皆可以激揚頹俗, 表正士林. 斯僕所以嚮慕勤勤, 豈敢以骨肉 之姻形骸之舊為意哉? 然足下之美如此, 而僕側聞蚩蚩之徒不悅足下者 已不少矣. 但恐道日長而毀日至, 位益顯而謗益多.

We see in Bai’s examples that the performance of faithful friendship in ninth-century China might entail an extraordinary amount of work and money: in two cases, Yang Yuqing apparently gave goods, cash, and assistance to friends and to the families of friends in distress, including help with the critical ritual tasks of burial and marriage and all the financial and social dealings those events required. This, Bai says, is the material evidence of friendship and of Yang’s character that he and the larger community witnessed. In the conclusion to the letter, however, Bai unexpectedly drops the topic of Yang’s character and their friendship, and declares that he will abandon his former ambitions and accept his destiny. The link between the two men’s mutual understanding and Bai Juyi’s sudden epiphany is

25. Zhu Jincheng (5:2474) notes that there is no evidence for Yang’s friendship with either man, though he points out that two consecutive anecdotes collected in Tang zhi yan may point towards the story: the first about Yang Yuqing helping a man named Chen Shang (this story is repeated in Yang’s XTS biography, 175.5247), the second about the early Tang literatus Li Yong helping a stranger.

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left unexplained. Though Bai seems to hint that Yang’s own position is in danger, he does not give specifics. When he moves on to contemplating his own fate, Bai adopts the same breadth of evidence that he used for evaluating Yang’s character. That is, he grounds his self-awareness quite literally in observation—looking at himself in the mirror and at his portrait—and in reassessing his own past. Shigao! In the short span of human life before death, with its thousand changes and ten thousand mutations, if one is not full of feeling and compassion without and responsive to the world within, what can one do? What can one do? In my practice of this, I have understood it for a long time. When I reflect on my allotted fate, it indeed seems appropriate [to my circumstances]. In all human situations, success and ascent are said to come from personal [effort], and only when one is in poverty and frustration does one believe in fate. I am not this way; ten years ago, with my decidedly mean bearing and my meager, poor talents, I was able to advance alongside those of expert skills, but how could that have been fitting to what I obtained? Therefore, I sought fame and won it; I sought wealth and got it; everyone believed it was because I was capable, and only I knew that it was due to fate. When fate comes through, then circumstances are right; when circumstances are right, then good fortune arrives. But the arrival of good fortune still comes from fate; as for the arrival of ill fortune, what other than fate could it come from? The reason that “above, I am not vexed at Heaven and below, I do not fault others” is in fact due to this [understanding of fate]. I also often look at myself in the mirror or contemplate my portrait, and when I assess my own body and frame, I [see that I] am truly not a noble, wealthy man. So judging myself in this way, I no longer have any doubts, and therefore if privilege or insult arrives, it does not surprise or startle me—as you have long understood as well. Now, not only am I content with the times and accepting fate, in accord with the passing of years and months, but [I find that] since my punishment of demotion, I have attained freedom, and in the flowing lakes and rivers I will wander hereafter. When I die, I will be buried in a tortoise or a fish’s belly; alive, I will be one among a flock of birds or beasts, and no one will be able to measure the slightest difference between us with respect to their sounds of scratching and the sharpness of their claws. As for you and your generation, you will never again see the brilliant traces of my success in the human realm. I thank you deeply, old friend, and encourage you to continue your great

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virtue. Here I have roughly sketched my lowly resolve and wished you farewell. Juyi bows his head. 師臯! 人生未死間, 千變萬化, 若不情恕於外, 理遣於中, 欲何為哉! 欲何 為哉! 僕之是行也, 知之久矣. 自度命數, 亦其宜然. 凡人情, 通達則謂由 人, 窮塞而後信命. 僕則不然, 十年前, 以固陋之姿, 瑣劣之藝, 與敏手利 足者齊驅, 豈合有所獲哉? 然而求名而得名, 求祿而得祿, 人皆以為能, 僕獨以為命. 命通則事偶, 事偶則幸來. 幸之來, 尚歸之於命. 不幸之來 也, 捨命復何歸哉! 所以上不怨天, 下不尢人者, 實如此也. 又常照鏡, 或觀寫真, 自相形骨, 非富貴者必矣. 以此自決, 益不復疑. 故寵辱之來, 不至驚怪, 亦足下素所知也. 今且安時順命, 用遣歲月, 或 免罷之後, 得以自由, 浩然江湖, 從此長往. 死則葬魚鼈之腹, 生則同鳥 獸之群, 必不能與掊聲攫利者搉量其分寸矣, 足下輩無復見僕之光塵於 人寰間也. 多謝故人, 勉樹令德, 粗寫鄙志, 兼以為別. 居易頓首.26

By deprecating his achievements and attributing success and failure to fate, Bai Juyi can avoid both blaming others and acknowledging fault in himself; he presents reclusion as the only appropriate response to the workings of fate (ming 命). Bai’s readers would have quickly recognized the canonical sources for his arguments. Here he embodies—in an attempt to live up to both his given name, “Juyi” 居易, “abiding in ease,” and his style name, “Letian” 樂天, “rejoicing in Heaven”—the conduct prescribed by the “Appended Phrases” of the Yi jing and the Zhongyong respectively for a junzi in hardship: [Yijing, Xici zhuan A.4] As [a sage] resembles Heaven and Earth, he does not go against them. As his knowledge is complete with respect to the myriad things and as his Dao brings help to all under Heaven, he commits no transgression. Such a one extends himself in all directions yet does not allow himself to be swept away. As he rejoices in Heaven [le Tian 樂天] and understands Its decrees, he will be free from anxiety. 與天地相似, 故不違. 知周乎萬物, 而道濟天下, 故不過. 旁行而不流, 樂 天知命, 故不懮. 27

26. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2769–76. 27. Translation adapted from Lynn, The Classic of Changes, 52.

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[Zhongyong] The junzi never finds himself in a place where he is not himself. In a superior position he does not offend subordinates; in a subordinate position he does not lean on superiors. He corrects himself and demands nothing from others and thus feels no ill will. Above, he is not resentful towards Heaven; below, he does not fault others. For this reason, the junzi abides in ease [juyi 居易], awaiting his fate, and the lesser man takes dangerous paths seeking undeserved fortune. 君子無入而不自得焉. 在上位不陵下, 在下位不援上, 正己而不求於人, 則無怨. 上不怨天, 下不尤人. 故君子居易以俟命, 小人行險以徼幸. 28

Neither of these texts argued that the junzi was required to forsake the human realm altogether in order to “rejoice in Heaven” and “abide in change.” But the melodramatic gesture that closes Bai’s letter, as he bids Yang and his friends farewell forever, is at least consistent with the line of argument he has followed up to this point. Confounded by fate in the form of unforeseen persecution in the political arena, he yields to fate when sent off to rusticate in the south. Bai’s confidence in his perfect understanding of Yang’s character is equaled by his apparent confidence in his knowledge of fate and Heaven. Throughout the letter, Bai Juyi defends the relationship between the two men as one built on experience and grounded in evidence rather than simply literary or emotional compatibility (though clearly he feels affection towards Yang), and he pointedly asks no favors of Yang. But in the context of a letter focused on friendship, knowledge, and generosity to friends, Bai’s praise of Yang as a faithful friend could certainly be read as an indirect plea for assistance or sympathy, at least, of the kind that Yang had given others. In his conclusion, however, Bai’s wish to “flock with” birds and beasts seems at odds with the collegiality he summons in the first part of the letter, let alone with his delight in friendship we saw in earlier poems. Whether or not he expected material help from Yang, it seems possible that Bai’s avowals of self-knowledge and resignation to fate were an attempt to create that mental state for himself—and his letters and poems a way to put it into circulation, to shape his reputation and future even while absent from Chang’an. This seems even more likely when we note that he rewrote this self-portrait three more times 28. Translation adapted from Gardner, The Four Books, 118.

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in letters sent to Cui Qun and to Yuan Zhen, letters that were written between 815 and 817. Moreover, in the 816 letter to Cui Qun (who was in the Hanlin Academy at the time and therefore in a position to be of some influence), Bai Juyi also names their mutual friends and thus potential allies in the body of the text, suggesting that they would be shown the letter and would admire Bai’s fortitude. In the letter to Cui Qun, Bai concludes with a more formal and detailed portrait of the recluse calmly resigned to his fate: In the last month, my oldest brother has come to me from Suzhou, and my orphaned young cousin and his household have all arrived here from far away. Day in and day out, we eat simple food, and we wear coarse clothes throughout the year. Through hunger and cold we secured the same, and the family members protected each other. I am beyond “being quiet and entrusting to the flow” [citing his words from earlier in the letter]—I am even more at peace. Moreover, Mount Lu lies before me, Jiujiang to my left; when I go out my gate I have the waters of the Canglang, and when I look up I see Incense-burner Peak. I often go to the Eastern and Western Forest Monasteries; and as for waterfalls, curious rocks, wind in the cassias, moonlight in the firs—things I have always cherished—all of those can be found there. I am beyond “being dull and bearing with changes” [again citing his earlier words]: I am even more at ease. As for my state of mind right now,29 I certainly do not rely on all these to find peace and ease, but I have them together. This is the way in which my humble self finds peace on top of peace, ease on top of ease, and [the reason that] I do not feel impoverished by fate or the approach of old age. 前月中, 長兄從宿州來, 又孤幼弟姪六七人皆自遠至. 日有糲食, 歲有麤 衣. 饑寒獲同, 骨肉相保. 此亦默默委順之外, 益自安也. 況廬山在前, 九 江在左, 出門是滄浪水, 舉頭見香爐峰. 東西二林, 時時一往. 至如瀑水, 怪石, 桂風, 杉月, 平生所愛者, 盡在其中. 此又兀兀任化之外, 益自適也. 今日之心, 誠不待此而後安適, 況兼之者乎? 此鄙人所以安又安, 適又 適, 而不知命之窮, 老之至也.30

29. In his letter to Bai, Cui Qun had inquired about Bai’s state of mind using this Buddhist term, xindi, since Cui and Bai were both interested in Chan and, as Bai recalls in his letter, had spent time discussing Chan practices in their leisure time while in office. 30. The “approach of old age” alludes to Confucius in describing himself, in Analects 7:18. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2806–9.

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The model of resignation that Bai explores in these texts is very syncretistic, blending Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian attitudes towards fate, but there was a specific Mencian ideal behind the age-old choice between reclusion and engagement Bai presents here.31 Having failed to change society and politics through service, remonstrance, and the poetry of social critique, Bai now self-consciously chooses to perfect himself (du shan qi shen 獨善其身). This is part of a complex of themes he explored in poems and prose texts during his time in the south. In his 815 letter to Yuan Zhen, Bai Juyi links the Mencian choice of du shan to the notion of timeliness (shi 時):32 The ancients said, “When in adversity, one should only perfect oneself; when in prominence, one should broadly aid all under Heaven.”33 Although I am not like them, I have always learned from this. That which a great man preserves is the Way; that which he awaits is the [appropriate] time. When the time arrives, he becomes like a dragon in the clouds, or a peng-bird aloft on the wind, as he soaringly, suddenly emerges in all his strength. When the time does not arrive [is not right], he becomes like a leopard in the mists or a goose in the deep sky, as he silently, singly maintains himself and retreats. 古人云, 窮則獨善其身, 達則兼濟天下. 僕雖不肖, 常師詞語. 大丈夫所守 者道, 所待者時. 時之來也, 為雲龍, 為風鵬, 勃然突然, 陳力以出. 時之 不來也, 為霧豹, 為冥鴻, 寂兮寥兮, 奉身而退.34

31. See DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 98–102, for mid-Tang perspectives on reclusion versus engagement. 32. On “timeliness” as an important issue for mid-Tang writers, see ibid., 51–53, and 57–62. 33. Bai here slightly alters the close to Mencius 7A.9: “[When a shi 士] is in adversity, then he perfects only his own person; when in prominence, he broadly does good for all under Heaven” 窮則獨善其身, 達則兼善天下. 34. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2794. Of course the idea of hiding one’s talents when the Way did not prevail is found in Analects 8.13 and 15.7; however, Bai’s focus here is not on the moral quality of “the age” but rather the appropriate response of the individual to circumstances beyond his control. The earliest English translation of parts of this letter appears in Waley, The Life and Times of Po Chü-yi, 107–14. See also Chan, “Between the World and the Self: Orientations of Pai Chü-i’s (772–846) Life and Writings” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1991), 388–425. The letter is reproduced in full in Bai’s JTS biography.

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Consistent with his new awareness of himself and his circumstances, Bai defended his decision to abandon the struggle for political influence and, even more drastically, renounce the human realm over a wide range of letters, essays, and poems.35 However, the long record of Bai’s life and corpus that came after his letter to Yang Yuqing—almost thirty more years and thousands of texts documenting his life back in the world—reveals this “portrait” (xie zhen 寫真) of Bai as a recluse to be a carefully constructed pose that he did not attempt to maintain after he returned to Chang’an, when he adopted the less constricting role of “recluse in between [the wilds and the court],” zhong yin 中隱.36 And yet the consistency of the self-portrait across his letters is remarkable, and serves as further evidence that it was intended to persuade many different readers. In his conclusion to the Cui Qun letter and again in his 817 letter to Yuan Zhen (examined below), by reciting the steps he took to attain a peaceful state of mind, Bai discursively recreates calm and stillness in the text in a manner reminiscent of chanting mantras for meditation. Unlike the repetition of Buddhist mantras, however, the exchange of letters can invite responses and even challenges to one’s self-understanding; it is therefore even more unfortunate that we have none of the responses to Bai’s letters extant to learn if the recipients found these versions of self-knowledge convincing. Over the course of the letter to Yang, Bai tacitly admits that his ability to zhiren and to have friends of whom he can claim mutual understanding 35. The fatalism of his view of timeliness appears most starkly in a brief text composed during these years and titled “Nothing to Be Done” (“Wu ke nai he” 無可奈何), which argues for complete submission to fate in the Zhuangzian posture of “entrusting oneself to the course” (wei shun 委順), a concept he also mentions in the letter to Yang. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2638–39. Zhu dates the text (which Bai calls a “song” [ge 歌], although it is neither metrically regular nor consistently rhymed; it was, however, included in QTS) to “before 823.” Wei shun is found in the “Knowledge Journeys North” (“Zhi beiyou” 知北游) chapter of Zhuangzi. Although the phrase first appears in one of Bai’s poems dated to 808, it appears more forcefully in a poem written while in mourning for his mother (1:322) and then at least five more times in poems written between 815 and 822 (1:406, 408, 412, 614–15, and 2:1024). It does not appear again in his poetic corpus (which is to say, in much of his extant work, since more than half of Bai’s extant poems date from after 824). Bai uses the phrase three times in his 816 letter to Cui Qun, and it also appears in other prose works from this period. 36. See Yang, Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere, 36–50; and Jia, “‘Pingchang xin shi dao’ yu ‘zhongyin.’ ”

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was useless in crisis or political disgrace. From that perspective, Bai’s decision to renounce that world and strive for tranquility seems in the end quite rational; rather than seeking to better comprehend the affairs of the human, political world that had failed him, he turns his understanding to the realm governed by Heaven, the natural environment in which he now finds himself, and to his own fate. Taken as a whole, the letters depict an adopted stance—an ethically sound, canonically sanctioned, aesthetically productive position that Bai could occupy while waiting out the years until he returned (he hoped) to the capital. In Liu Zongyuan’s and Bai Juyi’s letters to friends, the desire to be read and understood never seemed to waver, whether they wrote out of anxiety or resignation. Liu Zongyuan seems to have sustained several friendships in this manner from 806 until his death in 819, including with Lü Wen (who died in 811), Liu Yuxi, Xiao Mian, and others. Bai Juyi, despite his closing farewell to Yang, did the same by sending letters and poems to friends in his four years on the Yangtze from late 815 to 819. But Liu’s letters to friends often betray a deep sense of isolation and rejection by his fellow literati. As other scholars have argued, his writing on the natural world, though not as informed by Daoist references as Bai’s, was in part a search for solace outside human society. In general, Liu chose not to link the human and natural realms in his writing, in keeping with his larger belief in the distance between “Heaven” and human.37 We only have a few mid-Tang texts in which writers reflect on the ways that social knowledge, including the intimate understanding of friendship, might shed light on other kinds of knowing and engagement in human affairs. The letter from Han Yu to Cui Qun, written in 802, early in both men’s careers, is one of the few to attempt this blend of ideas. In this letter, Han Yu speaks as a close acquaintance, and he makes very strong claims about his friendship with and his knowledge of Cui Qun. But he maintains a formal register for most of the letter, turning personal only in the closing passage. The letter is a tightly linked, carefully reasoned argument about “knowing people.” Where Bai Juyi reasoned from experiential knowledge, Han Yu begins in personal experience but then 37. See Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 180–87, for a discussion of the “consolation and sublimation” Liu found in nature.

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attempts to posit the broader epistemological utility of friendship—in other words, to move from the knowledge of friendship to a deeper understanding of the relationship between Heaven and humankind, one that was also grounded in the terms and texts of antiquity. Han Yu opens his letter by consoling Cui about his demotion to Xuanzhou using the language of the Zhongyong: because Cui Qun is so worthy (xian 賢), Han Yu argues, “there is no place that you will not be yourself” (wu ru er bu zide 無入而不自得), and because he “knows Heaven’s decree,” he will not be discontent. Han Yu’s assertion raises the question of how Han Yu knew that Cui Qun was so worthy. And how was that knowledge relevant to or derived from Han’s understanding of other phenomena? Answering these questions becomes the driving force of the letter, as Han Yu goes on to demonstrate the sincerity, the logic, and the truth-value of his claim. At the time of this letter, Han Yu was in his first official post in Chang’an, as Erudite in the College of the Four Gates for the Sons of State (Guozi simen boshi 國子四門博士, r. 8a). Like Han Yu, Cui Qun had been a member of the famous 792 “Dragon and Tiger List” of jinshi.38 But beyond this letter, the evidence for contacts between Han and Cui in the decade after their examination success is scarce. In a 795 letter to Hou Ji 侯繼, another 792 candidate, Han Yu thanks Cui Qun for delivering letters back and forth.39 In 801, after the death of Ouyang Zhan 歐陽詹, yet another of their tongnian cohort, Han Yu says in a postface to the lament for Ouyang that he has made two copies of the lament and sent one to Cui Qun, because the three men had been “friends as students” (shengyou 生友).40 In 801 or early 802, Cui was transferred to a low-ranking post in Xuanzhou (in present-day Anhui), after serving in more prestigious central government posts before that time.41

38. For a study of this 792 cohort, see Lee, “The Dragons and Tigers of 792: The Examination in T’ang History,” 25–47. 39. The impression created by the references in Han Yu’s texts from the mid- to late 790s is that it was common for friends to offer material help in disseminating information about other friends. 40. In Han’s “Postface to the Lament [for Ouyang Zhan]” 題哀辭後, Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1500; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1522. 41. For Cui Qun’s biography, see JTS 159.4187–90; XTS 165.5080–82. Other than noting his examination success and first post, neither official biography contains details

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In the opening of his 802 letter to Cui, Han Yu begins by talking about Cui’s demotion, and he also thanks Cui for having written “two times already to ask about me.” Though we have no other extant texts exchanged between Cui and Han from this period, the evidence suggests that they had remained in contact since their examination success through their tongnian network, and that news of an individual member’s career successes or failures spread quickly in the network.42 Han Yu was in the capital, though in a low-ranking post; Cui Qun was apparently experiencing his first setback in what had been a fast track along the “pure offices” path to that point. The balance of power between the two men was therefore somewhat delicate: they could speak to one another as tongnian, but Cui was from a wealthy aristocratic lineage and had begun his career before his transfer, whereas Han Yu had only recently achieved his first regular post as an Erudite. The letter explores the links between friendship and knowledge in stages: first, Han Yu states that he perceives Cui’s worthiness clearly because he himself has had many different kinds of friends, and thus understands the subtleties of zhiren. This experiential knowledge—the familiarity with worthiness (or its opposite) through human exemplars—provides the foundation for the arguments to come. Second, Han asserts that because he has thoroughly studied the works of the sages, he has deep knowledge of worthiness in its historical manifestations and principles. This discursive understanding, the knowledge of historical fact, is equally crucial, and Han’s extensive study (he implies) makes him unique among his contemporaries. Third, he uses a clever, commonsensical anecdote to defend Cui Qun’s excellence. And finally, Han claims to understand Heaven’s attitude towards human endeavor, which thereby allows him to see that Cui Qun’s current distress is itself a sign from Heaven of Cui’s worthiness. Two pieces of the letter are the most relevant here: one part in the early section of the letter that discusses “kinds of friends,” and another, towards the conclusion, that links friend-knowlof Cui’s career under Dezong, focusing instead on his considerable success under Xianzong. His twelve extant works in the Quan Tang wen include no letters. 42. In his 804 “Preface Sending Off Yang Zhishi” 送楊支使序, which praises the military governor for whom Cui worked in 802, Han states that he knows “the character of both [Li] Bo and [Cui] Qun” 群與博之為人, 吾知之. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1642–43; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1236. LiBo was also a 792 tongnian graduate with Han and Cui.

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edge to other kinds of knowing. This letter, most often known as “Letter to Cui Qun,” became well known after Han’s death, cited in part in the Tang zhi yan in the chapter on “Teachers and Friends” (“Shiyou” 師 友, also translated as “Teachers Found in Friends”); an alternate title that began to circulate in the Song was “Letter to [Cui] Qun Discussing Social Relations” 與群論交書.43 Han Yu opens by reassuring Cui of his worthiness and their friendship, and expressing regret that Cui’s talent will be wasted in Xuanzhou: Since you left Luoyang, we have exchanged letters twice. You have recently taken on a post in Xuanzhou, where the lord is humane and worthy, and your colleagues are all junzi; although you must harbor thoughts of returning on the road, it is sure that you can pass the days there, and “there is no place where you will not be yourself” [無入而不自得, citing the Zhongyong]. Delighting in Heaven and understanding [Heaven’s] command is indeed the way that the former worthies were able to fend off [the worry of] external things. This is even more so for you who surpass thousands of our generation—how could being sent out or settled [in the capital], far or near, trouble the seat of your spirit? Although Xuanzhou is praised for being clear and fresh, lofty and bright, none of the lands south of the great river can compare with those of the north. As for the way of comfort and rest, one must first order one’s heart, and when the heart is at rest with no affairs, only then will external troubles not encroach, and you can fully prepare your mood such that little worries will not be of concern. Your worthiness is such that you are able to “not lose your happiness” in straitened circumstances, let alone when you are located near [to the capital] with a noble post and high salary, and those who love you are all about you! The reason I say all of this is because I take your worthiness to be such that you should be in highest office, and for you to be relegated to a command is indeed not fitting to your talents. Assessing the situation like this is only the Way of mutual respect and affection, and not a way to treat you [falsely]. 自足下離東都, 凡兩度枉問. 尋承已達宣州, 主人仁賢, 同列皆君子, 雖抱 羈旅之念, 亦且可以度日. 無入而不自得, 樂天知命者, 固前修之所以禦 外物者也. 況足下度越此等百千輩, 豈以出處近遠, 累其靈臺耶! 宣州雖稱清涼高爽, 然皆大江之南, 風土不並以北. 將息之道, 當先理 其心, 心閒無事, 然後外患不入, 風氣所宜, 可以審備, 小小者亦當自不 43. This title first appears in Hong Xingzu’s twelfth-century Hanzi nianpu. Noted in Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1534–35.

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至矣. 足下之賢, 雖在窮約猶能不改其樂, 況地至近, 官榮祿厚, 親愛盡 在左右者耶! 所以如此云云者, 以為足下賢者, 宜在上位, 託於幕府則不 為得其所, 是以及之, 乃相親重之道耳, 非所以待足下者也.44

Han Yu then sets the stage for the central argument by describing his wide and varied acquaintance to Cui, to flesh out his own credentials for evaluating “worthiness” (xian 賢): From my youth until now, I have served among acquaintances and friends for almost seventeen years, which is quite a long time. Those whom I know casually and have gone about with number in the hundreds and thousands, quite a lot.45 Even those with whom I’m as close as flesh-and-blood brothers are not few. Some I worked with, some I chose for their artistic skills. Some I admired for one special excellence, with others I go back a long time. Some I didn’t know well at first but then slowly grew closer to, and then later, since they didn’t have any great vices, I didn’t break off with them. Some aren’t entirely virtuous, but since our relations had become substantial, I couldn’t regret them even though I wanted to. Certainly the shallow acquaintances aren’t worth mentioning, but the deeper [friendships] are limited to these [types]. But when I think of the one whom I most look up to, in whose speech and actions I find no flaw, whose inner depths are boundless, who is brilliant and lustrously pure, whose radiance is daily renewed, then there is only the one man, Master Cui. 僕自少至今, 從事於往還朋友閒一十七年矣,日月不為不久. 所與交往相 識者千百,人非不多. 其相與如骨肉兄弟者, 亦且不少. 或以事同, 或以藝 取, 或慕其一善, 或以其久故, 或初不甚知而與之已密, 其後無大惡因 不復決捨, 或其人雖不皆入於善, 而於已已厚, 雖欲悔之不可. 凡諸淺者 固不足道, 深者止如此. 至於心所仰服, 考之言行而無瑕尤, 窺之閫奧而 不見畛域, 明白淳粹, 輝光日新者, 惟吾崔君一人.46

44. Han Yu quanji jiao zhu, 3:1532; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:803. 45. Han Yu’s use of “hundreds and thousands” (qian bai 千百) may be a veiled allusion to Zuo Si’s “Wu Capital Rhapsody,” in which Zuo Si describes the bustling officials of the capital: “Among the neighbors, there are / The best of the trustworthy knights, / Quick and nimble retainers. / They scurry about forming alliances; all their retinues are splendid and grand. / They go out walking in pearl-studded slippers, move in groups of a thousand or a hundred. / In wards and lanes they feast and drink, / Lifting flying goblets, raising empty cups.” Knechtges, Wen xuan, vol. 1, 401. 46. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1532–33; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:803–21.

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This praise of Cui Qun seems excessive, but its purpose in the structure of the argument is to establish Han’s knowledge of jiao 交, social relations, by showcasing his ability to distinguish among “shallow” and “deep” acquaintances, and to sort his closer friends into clearly recognizable types. The categories of friends Han Yu provides seem surprisingly familiar even to modern eyes—friends made through work, through admiration, out of gratitude, out of long habit or acquaintance—but he lists no friendships based on virtue or exemplary behavior. The final claim in this passage of Cui Qun’s worthiness also implies that the relationship between Han and Cui is uniquely pure, untainted by self-interest. Perhaps anticipating skepticism of such fulsome praise, Han Yu defends himself by drawing on other kinds of knowledge: In my humble foolishness, there is nothing I really understand, and yet there are no works of the sages that I haven’t read. Although I am not exhaustively familiar with their precision and breadth, their scope and details, you cannot say that I haven’t at least skimmed their flows. Thus, if we use [my familiarity with the ancients] to examine this issue [of knowing you], use it to assess this, then I truly know that you stand above the crowd, but don’t ask where I attained [this knowledge]. Given the true feeling between us, do I even need to say this before you will understand it? The only reason I say all this is that I fear you will think I have too many deep [friendships], and that I don’t take to heart the difference between white and black. Having said that I can generally understand you, then, to fear that you do not understand me would also be a mistake. 僕愚陋無所知曉, 然聖人之書無所不讀, 其精麤巨細, 出入明晦, 雖不盡 識, 抑不可謂不涉其流者也. 以此而推之, 以此而度之, 誠知足下出群拔 萃, 無謂僕何從而得之也. 與足下情義, 寧須言而後自明耶? 所以言者, 懼 足下以為吾所與深者多, 不置白黑於胸中耳. 既謂能粗知足下, 而復懼足 下之不我知, 亦過也.

Han Yu’s reasoning in this passage is rather compressed, and it is presented in a hypotactic style that underscores the formality of his statements and his use of logic. He first argues that his comprehensive reading of the works of the sages allows him to “truly know” (cheng zhi 誠知) that Cui stands above the crowd. Despite the humble statement, Han Yu’s erudition and advocacy of these texts was well-established by this time among his peers; Cui Qun and others in his tongnian group,

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for example, would have heard and read Han Yu’s defenses of “antiquity” for over a decade. But Han Yu also wants to ground his assessment of Cui Qun in the terms of their friendship, with a negative rhetorical strategy: “Given the true feeling between us, do I even need to say this before you will understand it?” This strategy raises a question about social role-playing in the letter. Throughout, Han Yu assumes an ostensibly deferential posture vis-à-vis Cui, calling him “Cui jun” and addressing him by the correct formal term for “you” in letters between literati peers, zuxia 足下. However, by defending his own learning and also drawing on their mutual knowledge and friendship, which dated back to their tongnian experience, Han Yu rhetorically positions himself as Cui Qun’s equal. This creates the foundation for the strong arguments of the next two stages of the letter, where Han Yu displays both his grasp of logical reasoning and his understanding of Heaven. Moving on from their personal relationship, Han Yu raises two linked questions: how does one prove “worthiness” to a world filled with skeptics, and why is it that the worthy (such as Cui) are always in adversity? In other words, how might Han Yu or anyone else take this understanding of worthiness out into the world? To dispose of the skeptics, he restages a conversation with someone who doubted Han Yu’s claim of Cui’s worthiness. Recently, someone said that [the claim of] your being so completely virtuous and perfect had to have some room for doubt. I said to him, “What do you doubt?” The skeptic said, “The junzi must have those he likes and those he despises, and they cannot but be apparent. As for the man from Qinghe, everyone, whether worthy or foolish, praises his goodness and submits to his [superiority of] person, so I am suspicious for this reason.” I answered, “The phoenix and angelica are acknowledged by both the worthy and the foolish to be perfect signs of virtue; even slaves and clerks can see the brightness of the sun in a clear sky. Or we could compare it to food: among exotic foreign dishes, of course there are things one relishes and things one does not. But when it comes to polished rice, fine grains, minced meat, and roasted meats, who ever heard of not relishing those?” And so the skeptic got it. Whether he got it or not, he couldn’t diminish or enhance my [understanding of you], Master Cui. 比亦有人說足下誠盡善盡美, 抑猶有可疑者. 僕謂之曰, 何疑? 疑者曰, 君子當有所好惡, 好惡不可不明. 如清河者, 人無賢愚無不說其善, 伏其

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為人, 以是而疑之耳. 僕應之曰, 鳳凰芝草, 賢愚皆以為美瑞. 青天白日, 奴隸亦知其清明. 譬之食物, 至於遐方異味, 則有嗜者, 有不嗜者. 至於 稻也, 粱也, 膾也, 炙也, 豈聞有不嗜者哉? 疑者乃解. 解不解, 於吾崔君 無所損益也.

Han Yu’s lively retelling—or invention—of this encounter allows him to play the role of advocate even more successfully, deploying simple analogies to strengthen the logic of his position. It also provides a light-hearted segue to the more serious issue that lies at the heart of the letter: the attitude of “the Creator,” or Heaven, towards human beings.47 Since antiquity, the worthy have been few and the unworthy many. Since I began to reflect on human affairs, I’ve also seen that the worthy are ever unfortunate, and the unworthy crowd the halls of government in their blue and purple robes; the worthy ever are without the means to sustain themselves, and the unworthy always attain their ambitions. Even if the worthy obtain low posts, they soon die, while some of the unworthy live long. I wonder what ultimately is the Creator’s intent? Is it not that what [the Creator] likes and despises is different from the human heart? And I also wonder if it could not be that [the Creator] takes no notice, simply allowing them to die young or live long? That cannot be known. There are certainly men who disdain high office or positions of wealth and influence, and are content with a humble abode and rough food. And so if this is true for people, where there are clear distinctions among what they like and despise, then how much more true is it for Heaven in its relation to people—Heaven must certainly differ [from people] in what it likes and despises, without a doubt! To be in harmony with Heaven but at odds with people, what harm is there in that? And if sometimes one is both at the same time, then is that not even less of a problem? Master Cui, Master Cui, do not desist in your efforts! 自古賢者少, 不肖者多. 自省事以來, 又見賢者恒不遇, 不賢者比肩青紫. 賢者恒無以自存, 不賢者志滿氣得. 賢者雖得卑位則旋而死, 不賢者或 47. For the popularity of the topic of the relationship between Heaven and humans among early ninth-century literati, see Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 117. See also Kawai Kozo’s discussion of this problem in Han’s poetry, “Shi wa sekai o tsukuru ka: Chū Tō ni okeru shi to zōbutsu” 詩は世界を創るか—中唐における詩と造物, in Shūnanzan no henyō: Chūtō bungaku ronshū 終南山の変容: 中唐文学論集 (Tokyo: Kenbun Shuppan, 1999), 35–70.

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至眉壽. 不知造物者意竟如何? 無乃所好惡與人異心哉? 又不知無乃都 不省記, 任其死生壽夭耶? 未可知也. 人固有薄卿相之官, 千乘之位, 而甘陋巷菜羹者. 同是人也, 猶有好 惡如此之異者, 況天之與人當必異其所好惡無疑也. 合於天而乖於人何 害? 況又時有兼得者耶? 崔君崔君, 無怠無怠!

This passage is intended as the coup de grace in Han’s defense of Cui Qun’s worthiness and of his own mastery of worthiness as an ideal. Significantly, Han Yu achieves this triumph not through an allusion-filled display of erudition but by deductive reasoning: he models for his readers the extended use of the experiential knowledge he claimed at the opening of the letter. Han Yu is able to conclude that the worthy suffer because, unlike the unworthy who are striving for wealth, they are attuned to Heaven’s will.48 But by examining the underlying assumptions that give rise to the problem (as he is doing at this moment), they too can understand that clinging to their worthiness in hard times is conducting themselves in the very manner Han Yu invoked at the beginning of the letter: “being at ease [and] delighting in knowing Heaven’s decree [or “one’s fate,” ming 命].” Han Yu’s style is noticeably formal on the level of both syntax and lexicon; he clearly wished this letter to showcase his literary and intellectual talents. The success of the argument depends heavily on his eloquence, as indicated by his infrequent use of allusion, his diverse strategies of reasoning, and the different social postures and voices he assumes in the text. We could speculate that Cui Qun’s worthiness was entirely a rhetorical construct, a literary stage from which Han Yu could display his own worthiness, or at least his grasp of the concept of “worthiness.” But Han Yu’s claims about the knowledge of friends and of Cui Qun in

48. Liu Zongyuan’s “On Heaven” 天說, from 813 or 814 (according to the dating of Luo Liantian, Han Yu yanjiu, 168), presumes to give Han Yu’s theory of Heaven’s actions in the natural world, which Liu Zongyuan then proceeds to rebut. As Liu restates it, Han Yu’s theory is in rough outline similar to the one he articulates here, though more exaggerated and wild: Han (as related by Liu) argues that every natural phenomenon is a response to Heaven, and serves as the means by which Heaven can be “known,” zhi. In “On Heaven,” Han Yu does not explain human fates as affected by Heaven’s intent (Liu Zongyuan ji 2:441–43). See Lamont, “Debate on Heaven”; Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 116–18.

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particular are not extrinsic to his claims about Heaven—to the contrary, he presents the knowledge of particular human relations as the means by which he arrives at a deeper understanding of social relations and of Heaven.49 He argues that knowledge of human nature, knowledge of one’s friends, or even knowledge of the ancients is insufficient if considered individually. Unless one perceives the links between these kinds of knowledge, in the way that Han Yu explains over the course of the text, one will fail—that is, “fail” to be content even in adversity. This is certainly the chief moral lesson of the letter, familiar to us from the Zhongyong. But Han Yu does not conclude his exhaustive exploration of social relations and knowledge in the optimistic key he has sustained to this point. I do not have enough to support myself with, and holding a post here has meant great hardship and poverty, [to the point where] I long to abandon myself to the Yi and Ying Rivers, and I may in the end do so. Recently, I have become even more decrepit: a left molar for no reason grew loose and fell out;50 my eyesight has become cloudy, so that I am sometimes even unable to distinguish people’s faces; my temples are half-white, and one in five of the hairs on my head is now white, and even my whiskers have a few sprouts of white in them. My entire family is so unfortunate—of the older generation of my uncles and older brother, all failed in health early and passed away—so do you think that someone in my condition can plan on lasting long? With all this sadness in me, I long to see you, to tell you all of what I have on my mind; and with my son and daughters before me, can I not be concerned for them? How will you be able to come back north? I am not

49. The notion of a continuum, or of stages of learning and knowledge, was inherent in traditional Confucian discussions of “study,” such as this from the Zhongyong: “When knowledge proceeds from sincerity, this can be attributed to human nature. When sincerity proceeds from knowledge, this can be attributed to learning.” In Ouyang Zhan’s essay “On Progressing from Brilliance to Sincerity,” which was composed some years before Han Yu’s letter, Ouyang explores the model of the “worthies” (xian 賢) because they were able to reach “sincerity” through arduous learning. Noted in DeBlasi, Reform in the Balance, 134. 50. For Han Yu’s several mentions of tooth loss, see the annotation for his poem “Losing Teeth” 落齒 in Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:172–73.

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fond of Jiangnan, and when my time of service is done, I would like to end my days at the foot of Mount Song, and if you could come join me there, I would not be able to depart. Be sure to increase your care of yourself, be careful of what you eat and drink, and try not to worry or be anxious— these are my only wishes [for you]. Yu bows twice. 僕無以自全活者, 從一官於此, 轉困窮甚, 思自放於伊潁之上, 當亦終得 之. 近者尤衰憊, 左車第二牙無故搖動脫去,目視昏花, 尋常閒便不分人 顏色, 兩鬢半白, 頭髮五分亦白其一, 鬚亦有一莖兩莖白者. 僕家不幸, 諸 父諸兄皆康彊早世, 如僕者又可以圖於久長哉? 以此忽忽, 思與足下相見,一道其懷. 小兒女滿前, 能不顧念? 足下何由 得歸北來? 僕不樂江南, 官滿便終老嵩下, 足下可相就, 僕不可去矣. 珍 重自愛, 慎飲食, 少思慮, 惟此之望. 愈再拜.

This self-portrait is surprisingly detailed in a physical sense—although he is only thirty-four, Han says that he is losing teeth, going gray, and has good reason to fear early death. In the context of his performing the role of you 友 to Cui, Han Yu uses this self-portrait to demonstrate his own commitment to “delight in the will of Heaven” in all circumstances, similar to Bai Juyi’s intention to resign himself to circumstances and yet more pessimistic in tone. He portrays himself in hardship and achieves an experiential equality with the man he admires, even as he claims to be Cui’s inferior in virtue. Despite his appropriate deference to Cui’s worthiness, Han Yu positions himself as his friend’s equal on the grounds just defended as morally and logically sound: he too is wrestling with hardship, and is therefore offering advice to Cui that he himself needs to follow. Indirectly, the close of the letter loops back to its opening and Han’s advice to “settle one’s heart” so that “little worries cause no concern.” Both Bai Juyi and Han Yu begin their letters with their experience of friendship, but they seem to draw different lessons from that experience. Bai Juyi displays his understanding of friendship and defends its practical uses and moral value, and yet he concludes by arguing that his current situation (“the times,” shi) requires him to turn away from his community of friends and take solace in the natural world instead. Although Han Yu ends his letter with a gesture towards reclusion, the deeper message of his letter to Cui is instead one of continued intellectual and moral engagement. Despite these differences, the epistemolog-

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ical tools and the rhetorical strategies of the letters by Bai and Han are remarkably similar. Both men argue that individual experience laid the foundation for general knowledge and knowing others, learning filled in the intellectual supports, and an understanding of the patterns of Heaven (however one construed them) could then be grasped from that position. Their “understanding [of] Heaven’s decree” (zhi Tian ming 知 天命), however, pointed them in opposite directions, towards disengagement or redoubled effort. But we cannot ignore the aspect of social role-playing and political ambition in these mid-Tang letters, which must have influenced their self-representations profoundly. As the dozens of poems and other texts sent to his friends in Chang’an during this period demonstrate, Bai’s performance of reclusion in the form of the quasi-Daoist sage was highly self-conscious and intended to be circulated. In letters to Xiao Mian (as well as to Li Jian and others), Liu Zongyuan complained of his unhappiness but tempered it with a commitment to continue writing, and he thereby defended his ability to participate in literary culture in spite of his “crimes” (zui 罪). To his tongnian Cui Qun in difficulty, Han Yu dispensed wisdom and wit and thereby advertised his learning and literary versatility. The medieval tradition of letters of self-explanation sent to friends and colleagues, such as Sima Qian’s letter to Ren An, expected a writer to disclose his motives, reasoning, and feelings. In these mid-Tang letters, however, the writers present themselves not merely as the objects of knowledge but as the agents of many different kinds of knowledge, not only revealing themselves to their readers but also reasoning carefully from their experiences to advance arguments about human society, the counsel of the sages, and even Heaven. Their confidence in their ability to know and understand these different phenomena should also be read as an assertion of intellectual self-reliance.

Misunderstanding: Negotiating Criticism and Conflict Writing to friends for sympathy in difficult circumstances must have been a common practice for Tang literati, and the evidence of extant

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mid-Tang letters suggests that writers sought to portray themselves in the light best calculated to elicit compassion and assistance. But we have less evidence for the unpleasant—yet what must have been equally common—experience of receiving refusal or criticism in return. Specific medieval literary subgenres such as plaint poetry or epitaphs provided writers with historical exemplars and formal conventions with which to express feelings about negative experiences such as political frustration, separation sorrow, and mourning. In the case of letters, however, outside the highly ritualized conventions of shuyi 書儀, etiquette and letter-writing manuals, we find fewer templates in the Tang for treating these subjects.51 What’s more, shuyi seem to have had little influence on the kinds of letters literati preserved. Even in shuyi manuals we find few models for expressing negative responses towards the recipient of a letter, as opposed to negative feelings about an event. And yet trust in friendship required frank speaking, even in circumstances of separation or in discussions of painful topics. How did literati sustain both trust and mutual respect in their literary writings to friends? What impact did the struggle to resolve misunderstanding have on the style of such communications? As the letters above demonstrate, mid-Tang literati believed that mutual understanding derived from observation and familiarity, which then bred trust. But when misunderstanding or disagreement arose between friends, the very texts and words that established knowledge and trust could be used as weapons of critique and attack. We have a handful of mid-Tang letters that shed light on the ways that literati negotiated conflict and criticism in their relations with friends and colleagues. When the letter-writer’s expectation of sympathy or understanding was not met, there seem to have been two possible responses: either to question the judgment of the friend and thus the soundness of the friendship, or to question writing as a tool for conveying ideas and emotions fully. Unlike the chains of knowing traced in the previous letters, letters that capture personal or intellectual conflict tend not to take an epistemological turn; disagreement and criticism arose over competing claims to knowledge, but they did not seem to provoke questions about the sources of that knowledge or the means by which it was acquired. As we saw in changhe poetry, the dialectical quality of exchanges 51. See Patricia Ebrey, “T’ang Guides to Verbal Etiquette,” HJAS 45.2 (1985), 608–10.

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pushed writers towards either competition or affirmation, towards asserting victory over one’s “opponent” or claiming likeness to the literary companion. Context was critical here: the relative playfulness or seriousness of the occasion set the writers’ tone in such exchanges, and hardship certainly tended to provoke more sympathetic responses from readers. Writing to Meng Jiao in 800 or 801, at a time when the two men were separated, Han Yu revealed the importance of close friendship to his own identity, and the sense of being not fully himself when not surrounded by friends. I have been parted from you a long time now. From my own longing for you, I know that you must be anxiously worried about me. We are both bound by work and cannot get together. When I am with others and cannot see you and sit with you daily, you know if my heart is happy or not! Who is there to listen when I speak? Who to match me when I chant poetry? To speak and have no one listen, to chant and have no one match me, to go about alone with no fellows, to have no one to agree with me when discussing right and wrong—you know if my heart is happy or not! Your talent is great and your spirit pure; you walk the way of antiquity but reside in the present day; you have no land, nor [sufficient] clothing or food, and yet you serve your mother without inner waywardness—you are diligent in your commitment. Your place in the world is so laborious and bitter! Whirled around in the turbid murk of this age, your heart alone pursues and follows the ancients. Your path truly makes me grieve!52 In the spring of last year, I escaped the Bianzhou rebellion and was lucky not to have died. I had no place to turn and no one to turn to, and so I came here [to the court of Zhang Jianfeng, in Xuzhou]. The lord and I had known one another for some time, and he pitied my hardship and lodged me [and my family] at Fuli on the Sui River. By autumn, I was about to leave, but since he detained me by giving me a post, I have remained alone and morose here for almost a year. But this autumn, I think I would like

52. “Whirled around in the turbid murk” 混混與世相濁 echoes two passages from Chu ci 楚辭 texts: the Eastern Han scholar Wang Yi’s 王逸 “Distressed by the Times” 傷時 in the “Nine Longings” 九思: “But the age is turbid with violent confusion, / and I grieve that no one in my age knows me” 时混混兮浇饡, 哀當世兮莫知; and also Qu Yuan’s words in “The Fisherman” 漁夫: “All the world is turbid while I alone am clear” 舉世皆濁我獨清. Chuci buzhu 楚辭補注 (Taibei: Da’an chubanshe, 1995), 538–41.

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to leave again. The rivers and lakes are my joy—if I could live out my days there with you, what great fortune it would be. Li Xizhi [Ao] is to marry my deceased older brother’s daughter a month from now—we’re waiting for him to arrive soon. Zhang Ji is in Hezhou, in mourning, and his family is very poor. I was afraid you would not know, and so I tell you all this. I hope that you will come so we can see each other. From there to here is a long way, but if you travel by boat all the way, you can get here. My hope is that you’ll plan this quickly. Spring is almost over, and the weather is turning hot; I wish you good fortune. My eye problem is worse, which is really a bother; but I will not detail everything here. Yu bows twice.53 與足下別久矣. 以吾心之思足下, 知足下懸懸於吾也. 各以事牽, 不可合 并. 其於人人, 非足下之為見而日與之處, 足下知吾心樂否也! 吾言之而 聽者誰歟? 吾倡之而和者誰歟? 言無聽也, 倡無和也, 獨行而無徒也, 是非無所與同也, 足下知吾心樂否也! 足下才高氣清, 行古道, 處今世, 無田而衣食, 事親左右無違, 足下之用 心勤矣. 足下之處身勞且苦矣. 混混與世相濁, 獨其心追古人而從之, 足 下之道, 其使吾悲也. 去年春, 脫汴州之亂, 幸不死, 無所於歸, 遂來於此. 主人與吾有故, 哀 其窮, 居吾於符離睢上. 及秋, 將辭去, 因被留以職事. 默默在此, 行一年 矣. 到今年秋, 聊復辭去. 江湖余樂也, 與足下終幸矣. 李習之娶吾亡兄之女, 期在後月, 朝夕當來此. 張籍在和州居喪, 家甚 貧, 恐足下不知, 故具此白. 冀足下一來相視也. 自彼至此雖遠, 要皆舟 行可至. 速圖之, 吾之望也. 春且盡, 時氣向熱. 惟侍奉吉慶. 愈眼疾比劇, 甚無聊, 不復一一. 愈再拜.

As he did in the letter to Cui Qun, Han Yu performs the symmetry of sympathy in friendship, following up his praise of Meng Jiao’s attitude in hardship with a summary of his own unanswerable difficulties.54 However, Han suggests his relationship with Meng is much more intimate: the two men have been so close that Meng already understands how Han is bereft and even incomplete in his absence: “You know if my heart is happy or not!” 足下知吾心樂否也! In its praise of Meng’s char-

53. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1425–26; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:574–77. 54. On the sympathy in letters exchanged between friends, see Milne, who notes that it manifests itself in letters as the oscillation between self and other, summoning up the recipient in order to recreate his or her presence (Letters, Postcards, Email, 64–65).

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acter, Han’s letter is certainly akin to earlier poems defending Meng.55 But this letter captures a quieter, simpler mood. There is no allusion or periphrasis; the sentences are short, hypotactic, and contain few particles; and there is a noticeable repetition of both first- and second-person pronouns—each zuxia for Meng is balanced by wu, the informal (and humbler) “I,” for himself. As he did in praising Cui Qun, Han Yu asserts that Meng Jiao is “worthy” (xian 賢) for specific attributes: he perseveres through poverty, he serves others with dedication, and he remains committed to the Way of antiquity in spite of the “turbid murk” of the age engulfing him. The rhetorical balance of the letter suggests that Han’s words of praise are meant for both reader and writer, who are each other’s mirror. But another letter from the same period in Han’s life illustrates the consequences when the responsive understanding between friends was threatened by disagreement. Sometime in 799, Li Ao seems to have written a frank and somewhat critical letter to Han Yu (that no longer survives) in which he must have urged Han to return to Chang’an to try his luck there instead.56 As Li Ao stated in other texts from this period and later, Han Yu treated him as both a student and a friend during their time together, and in his response letter Han Yu writes to Li Ao in the alternating voices of friend and teacher.57 Han Yu confronts Li Ao’s criticism, which he represents as Li Ao’s misunderstanding of his character and personal history. The vehemence of Han Yu’s response reveals frustration and anger at both Li Ao and at the unnamed flock of men blocking Han’s

55. See, for example, “Poem for Student Meng” 孟生詩, and “Drunk, Detaining [Meng] Dongye” 醉留東野. Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:12–18, 58–62; Han Yu quanji jiaozhu 1:6, 1:36. 56. There is some question as to where Li Ao was at this time; at some point in 799 he traveled to Wu prefecture to cultivate the acquaintance of Lu San, the military governor who was a well-known patron of literati, but he may have returned to Chang’an after that. See the arguments summarized by Qian Zhonglian in the annotation to Han’s 799 poem “This Day Is Truly to Be Lamented” 此日足可惜, Han Changli shi xinian jishi, 1:95n81, and the description in “Li Ao pingzhuan” 李翱評傳 in Bian, Han Yu pingzhuan, 474–75. The next reliable date for Li Ao is the fifth month of 800, when he arrived in Xuzhou to complete the wedding arrangements with Han Yu’s niece. 57. Li Ao refers to Han Yu as “my friend” 我友 in his letter praising Han to Lu San, and Han Yu calls Li Ao you, as well as wu zi and wu tu in several of the texts from the first decade of their acquaintance.

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advance. The strong emotions of the letter are conveyed in its lexical and syntactic choices, in particular by the many exclamations and emphatic particles: there are, for example, four uses of the exclamatory phrase jiehu 嗟乎 and seven uses of the emphatic particle zai 哉. Han Yu attempts to correct Li Ao’s misconceptions and scold him simultaneously, but despite his hectoring tone, he also acknowledges the merit of Li Ao’s actions as a friend. Some of the letter’s power comes from the strain between Han Yu’s evident desire to “teach” Li Ao and his compensating words of gratitude for Li Ao’s concern.58 This tension produces a kind of circular motion in the structure of the letter, as Han Yu seems unable either to resolve his current career predicament or to be sure of Li Ao’s understanding. The messenger arrived, and I humbly received your letter—at which I felt happiness and shame at the same time, and felt uneasy in my heart. Ah! Your words and your intentions were both correct, and although I may argue cleverly, how can I escape your reproach! Yet this is all because your love for me is great, your opinion of me so weighty; you don’t consider the way that people treat me, but instead, because of your advocacy for me, I am faulted by other people.59 My household is truly impoverished, having encountered attacks and disasters again and again, to the point where we had no way of getting food or clothing, and we had not even the barest means of survival. My household has increased now to thirty mouths—if I were to leave here, to whom or where could they be entrusted? I can’t abandon them and go to the capital; I cannot uproot them to travel on [with me]. How could you suggest this plan for me? But this is only one issue—what benefit would there be in my going to the capital as you said? If in my relationship with you there are still things you don’t understand, then how can other people know me? To gather up all I have and rush off, fleeing to mingle with officials and ministers, opening my mouth to debate and discuss—how could I possibly fit in?

58. This strain makes the letter unique in Han’s collection: in the many letters to students who solicited him for advice or support, Han Yu perfected the voice of the teacher, marked by “high seriousness and canonical citations” (McMullen, “Han Yü,” 653), a voice he is not able to maintain consistently here. 59. The sense of wang 望 here is difficult to determine; commentators cite a passage from Shi ji in which wang is read as “to blame, find fault,” to explain Han Yu’s meaning in context. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1388.

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使至, 辱足下書, 歡愧來并, 不容於心. 嗟乎! 子之言意皆是也. 僕雖巧說, 何能逃其責耶? 然皆子之愛我多, 重我厚, 不酌時人待我之情, 而以子之 待我之意, 使我望於時人也. 僕之家本窮空, 重遇攻劫, 衣服無所得, 養生之具無所有. 家累僅三十 口, 攜此將安所歸託乎? 捨之入京, 不可也. 挈之而行, 不可也. 足下將安 以為我謀哉? 此一事耳, 足下謂我入京有所益乎? 僕之有子猶有不知者, 時人能知我哉? 持僕所守, 驅而使奔走伺候公卿間, 開口論議, 其安能有 以合乎?

Han Yu’s opening words are both conventional and polite, but he quickly changes tone with an exclamation of dismay (jie hu 嗟乎). By adopting the use of the pronoun zi 子, informal or younger “you,” towards Li Ao in the next lines (he moves back and forth between zi and the more formal zuxia throughout the letter), and acknowledging Li Ao’s correct “intent” in writing him, Han Yu aggressively asserts both his status vis-à-vis Li Ao and his superior understanding of Li Ao’s actions and motives as rooted in care and concern for his friend.60 The etiquette of responding to a letter of advice requires that Han Yu thank Li Ao at the outset, and yet Han Yu’s particular expression of gratitude clearly distinguishes two kinds of knowing or understanding that he will explore in the letter: first, the knowledge of someone that manifests itself as caring, or Li Ao’s current understanding of Han Yu, as Han Yu construes it, and second, a deeper understanding of a person’s character and abilities, where Han Yu seems to want to push Li Ao. If part of the misunderstanding between the two men stems from Li Ao’s ignorance, as Han Yu suggests, that is easily mended: Han Yu gives Li Ao a sketch of the humiliation he felt in Chang’an: I stayed in the capital eight or nine years with nothing to live on, daily seeking [support] from people in order to get by. At the time I was doing it I wasn’t aware of it, but when I think about it now, it’s like someone who has recovered from sickness thinking back on when he was sick—I don’t

60. Han Yu’s use of the verb ai 愛 here to describe Li Ao’s attitude is unusual in his corpus; in his poetry, he more commonly uses it to describe a “fondness” for things such as mountains or settings, or sometimes as the “affectionate care” (usually coupled with en 恩, “grace”) bestowed on inferiors by superiors.

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know how I managed to get through it. Now I am even older, and to rush back there, to return to that old ground, would be truly hard. 僕在京城八九年, 無所取資, 日求於人, 以度時月. 當時行之不覺也, 今 而思之, 如痛定之人思當痛之時, 不知何能自處也. 今年加長矣, 復驅 之, 使就其故地, 是亦難矣.

Han Yu’s comparison of his hardship to the experience of illness signals a turn in his line of argument from the practical to the existential. In similar fashion, he links the difficulty of achieving knowledge of friends and knowledge of other people that is required in the world: “If in my relations with you there are still things you don’t know, then how can other people know me?” Although he implies his personal relations with Li Ao might be improved by the explanations of this letter, Han Yu’s pessimism about others seems to preclude a return to Chang’an. This passage also suggests that Han was basically uncertain of his ability to explain himself. In addition, these lines about knowing evoke two themes Han Yu explored often in poems and letters from the 790s: his belief in the consecrating power of adversity (Han Yu’s merit is here being proved in a trial by fire) and the nobility of the self-reliant, solitary man of genius. This letter was intended not only to point out Li Ao’s misunderstanding but also to document, yet again, Han Yu’s indignation at not being known. Even though he rejects Li Ao’s advice, Han Yu continues to credit his good intentions: “Your reproach of me is truly correct, and your love for me is truly great—but among all the people of the world, are there any like you?” This repeated claim of Li Ao’s uniqueness as one who “loves” Han Yu serves as a transition to the familiar topic of bu yu 不遇, the idea of the worthy not meeting with an appropriate position. Han Yu does not dwell on his life in Xuzhou, but rather redirects the force of the letter towards Li Ao’s failure of imagination: “When you find yourself in my situation, only then will you understand—tread this path and only then will you [perceive] its difficulty.” Here he again resorts to the experiential and subjective dimension of zhi to teach Li Ao and to assert his own better comprehension of hardship. Given his role as Li Ao’s teacher and as self-proclaimed champion of antiquity, Han closes the letter appropriately by turning to Confucius’s most cherished disciple for a parallel:

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Confucius praised Yan Hui, “With just a bowl of grain and a ladle of water—most men would find this unbearable hardship, but Hui does not alter in his joy.” [Yan Hui] had a sage to rely on, and he had a bowl of grain and a ladle of water enough to keep him alive; so as for his being unworried and joyful—how could this not be easy! As for me [regarding your plan for me to go to the capital], with no one to rely on, no bowl of rice, no ladle of water, nothing to survive on, I would die of starvation— would not this indeed be difficult! When you hear these words of mine, you too will be grieved, alas! You indeed must be careful when they arrive! We have been separated from one another a long time, and I must go back to my work [in Xuzhou]. . . .61 I have therefore tasked a courier to deliver this, awaiting your thoughts [in reply], and also explaining myself. 孔子稱顏回一簞食, 一瓢飲, 人不堪其憂, 回也不改其樂. 彼人者, 有聖 者為之依歸, 而又有簞食瓢飲足以不死. 其不憂而樂也, 豈不易哉! 若僕 無所依歸, 無簞食, 無瓢飲, 無所取資則餓而死, 其不亦難乎! 子之聞我 言亦悲矣. 嗟乎! 子亦慎其所之哉! 離違久, 乍還侍左右. . . . 故專使馳此 候足下意, 并以自解.

In citing this Analects passage about Yan Hui, Han Yu omits Confucius’s opening and closing remark: “How worthy Hui is!” 賢哉回也, implying that “worthiness” is the topic under discussion with regard to his own character.62 Han Yu uses Yan Hui to make three linked points: the obvious one about facing hardship with equanimity, a second lesson about the gaps in the relationship between Li Ao and Han Yu, and a third point about the dissonance between himself and “people of today” (shiren 時人) who are blind to Han Yu’s worth. The passage is also a parable of the knowledge possessed by the perceptive teacher. Just as Yan Hui models the appropriate response to adversity, Confucius models keen understanding of others’ qualities—he is the perfect knower of Yan Hui. Han Yu claims to understand Li Ao better than Li Ao understands him—and yet Han Yu himself is apparently misunderstood,

61. There is one variant, a possible correction, and confusion about the four-character phrase that I have elided here: Quan Tang wen gives 當日歡喜, which Luo (but not Qu) corrects to 當日懽喜; and some commentaries suggest that the 日 should be 且; in any event, the phrase is likely to be a conventional wish for happiness. Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:786. 62. Analects 6.11.

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and unknown by almost everyone. Poverty is bearable if one has a sage to revere and pattern oneself after (which is why Han Yu can pose for a moment as Confucius to Li Ao), but where is the Confucius who will fully understand Han’s worth? Han Yu’s unhappiness with Li Ao’s misguided advice and with his own circumstances seems to impede his discovery of any knowledge he might use to change his situation for the better. The rhetorically circular motion of the letter suggests that Han Yu is merely retracing the same territory from different angles. The many questions in the text— the letter’s single most prominent syntactic feature—expose Han’s anxiety: he poses no fewer than fourteen questions in the course of this brief letter. As he says repeatedly, he is “not known” in every sense of the word: not understood even by someone very close to him and not appreciated by men in power. The tension between Han Yu’s desire to instruct and his desire to be understood pulls the letter back and forth between concession and aggression, between mastery of the ancients and self-justification. Han Yu attempts to speak wisely and in the voice of experience, but the emotional force of his account seems to wrench the letter out of his control. The discussion cuts across the overlapping social roles of teacher-student and friend-friend in different ways: the issue at stake was not merely the viability of Han’s career, an appropriate topic of discussion between friends, but also the integrity of Han’s positions, something that a disciple should not question. Han Yu’s conflict with Li Ao was both personal and intellectual, and Han’s use of the example of Yan Hui and Confucius in his conclusion exposed his assumption that he and Li Ao ought to be in agreement on key values as well as in emotional harmony. But did the mutual understanding of friendship lead necessarily to agreement on a shared Dao, or could it persist despite differences in intellectual positions? Han Yu never answered this question decisively in his letters—as he said to Cui Qun, he indeed had a wide circle of acquaintances, particularly late in life, and later letters to friends and colleagues suggest a greater tolerance for difference than this text would indicate, perhaps simply because Han Yu’s career was prospering, and the urgency of convincing others of his positions lessened. Three other cases (two of which are very well known) in which Han Yu conducted a disagreement through letters indicate a more broad-minded, even generous approach to intellectual disputes with men

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whom he respected.63 The first appears in the letters from Zhang Ji early in their acquaintance, when Zhang and Li Ao were studying with Han in Bianzhou. Zhang Ji wrote to criticize Han Yu for frivolity, which he argued jeopardized Han’s teaching and stature, and also to urge him to write down more of his oral arguments in order to circulate his ideas. Han replied by defending his mode of oral instruction, arguing that texts circulating his ideas would only bring him ridicule, and even adding a mild defense of joking and playfulness. Not content with this response from Han, Zhang Ji wrote a second time to push his point. Han’s second response, while still generous to his student, is shorter and more defensive about the kinds of criticism he thought he would receive for circulating his ideas.64 But he did not reject Zhang’s criticism outright, merely citing examples from Confucius, the Han dynasty scholar Yang Xiong 楊雄 (53 BCE–18 CE), and the Shi jing to defend his position. Nor did the exchange yield any negative personal consequences, since Zhang Ji remained Han’s student and passed the jinshi the year after leaving him, and the relationship between the two men continued until Han’s death in 824, as documented in Zhang Ji’s long poem on Han’s death. The other two instances of letters depicting conflict involve intellectual debates between Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan: the first set of letters captures their debate on Heaven; the second set includes a strongly critical letter from Liu to Han, and a follow-up letter from Liu that was milder in tone, regarding Han’s position on the responsibilities of the historian.65 Both exchanges raise a question still disputed by scholars

63. Han Yu has yet another letter, however, to his tongnian friend Feng Su 馮宿, that addresses the same issue of misunderstanding and obligations between friends as the letter to Li Ao, but in a more bitter and sarcastic tone. Without a reply letter or other texts from Feng to contextualize the argument between the two men, it is a difficult text to parse. See the discussion of this letter in Ono Shihei 小野四平, Kan Yu to Ryō Sōgen: Tōdai kobun kenkyū josetsu 韓愈と柳宗元: 唐代古文研究序說 (Tokyo: Kyūko shoin, 1995), 166–70. 64. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1326–41; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:738–58. For a discussion and partial translation of the first letter, see Hartman, Han Yü, 161–62, and n81, 331; and see the scholarly commentary on Han Yu’s two letters collected in Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:563–64 and 1:572–74, which is generally sympathetic to Zhang’s criticism. 65. Although some earlier scholars saw these two sets of letters as related, Lamont argued persuasively that they were not connected (“An Early Ninth Century Debate on

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about the nature of the relationship between Han and Liu: whether they had become, as the years passed from the Shunzong debacle, relatively collegial correspondents, or whether they remained personally as well as intellectually at odds. The debate over Heaven is poorly documented from Han Yu’s side. Although we have Liu Zongyuan’s essay on Heaven citing Han’s words, we have no original text from Han to Liu that would verify Liu’s citations. It was, however, a vehement philosophical conflict over the intelligibility of Heaven to humans. As he asserted in many other texts, including the letter to Cui Qun, Han Yu argued that Heaven acted responsively to human conduct and worthiness, whereas the more skeptical and materialist Liu Zongyuan argued that Heaven was both unintelligible and unresponsive to humankind. Whether or not Han’s words were meant as consolation for Liu—an explanation of why good men were treated badly—the philosophical gap between the two men on this issue apparently never closed.66 In the case of the letters from Liu to Han on the work of the historian, however, the first letter is full of angry criticism: Liu excoriates Han Yu for what Liu sees as incorrect, even ignorant statements about history, statements he had read in letters written by Han Yu to a young student. Liu opens quite bluntly: In the letter I obtained that spoke of matters concerning history, you said that you had detailed all of it in your “Letter to Floriate Talent Liu”; now that I have seen the original draft [of that letter], in my heart I am seriously displeased, and I think that it is even more erroneous than the previous year’s letter on the affairs of the historian. 獲書言史事, 云具與柳秀才書, 及今乃見書稿, 私心甚不喜, 與退之往年 言史事甚大謬.67

Liu’s criticism of Han in this letter is relentless, and he ends with no mitigating courtesies (though the extant text may be truncated) or Heaven,” pt. 2, 38–39). For Liu’s two letters to Han on the work of the historian, see Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:807–12; for his essay on Heaven, “Tian shuo” 天說, which cites Han’s words, Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:441–49. 66. For the notion that Han was attempting to comfort Liu in this manner, see the discussion in Lamont (pt. 2, 37, 410–41). 67. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:807.

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any hint of compromise. In contrast, in his second letter to Han on the same topic, Liu Zongyuan moderates his tone, implicitly apologizing by saying that he was ill at the time of his original letter, and he presents Han with the biography (and perhaps texts) of an obscure scholar that he has prepared on his own. In a self-deprecating manner, he even reminds Han of the great difference in their situations: “In the past, when you and I both hoped to be historians, my spirit was very stalwart, but now I am isolated and imprisoned, abandoned and confined . . . and I have no ability to do so [work as a shi 史]” 昔與退之期為史, 志甚壯, 今孤囚廢 錮 . . . 無能為也.68 His trifling work on this obscure official’s story, Liu implies, is the closest he can come as a demoted official to the position that Han now holds.69 Unfortunately, we have no letter in reply from Han; but though we never see the two men resolving the central debate over the historian’s charge, the second letter suggests that Liu sought to repair and sustain the relationship despite their disagreement, and he seems to have succeeded. As we will see in the next chapter, Han Yu took his responsibilities as a you 友 to Liu Zongyuan quite seriously upon Liu’s death a few years later. In contrast to Han Yu’s willingness to debate—if not entirely accept—criticism of his positions from friends, Li Ao may have been more ideologically rigid in his approach to the personal and intellectual elements of friendship. For Li Ao, who was Han’s student, friend, and ultimately relative by marriage, the path through politics was rocky, and his struggle to find someone who “understood him” outside the circle of friends may have made him more dogmatic in his defense of his individual grasp of the Way of antiquity.70 As the following letter makes clear, those who were zhiwozhe to him were required to be willing to follow what Li called “my Way” (wu Dao 吾道). In a second letter in reply to one Hou Gao 侯高 (the original is not extant, and the first letter from Li is also lost), a man whom we know very little about, Li Ao defends his Dao with arguments from canonical texts and reasoning from personal

68. Ibid., 3:810–11. 69. The biography Liu composed survives, as does Liu’s presentation document, given as a postface. Liu Zongyuan ji, 1:175–80. 70. For a detailed discussion of Li Ao’s social connections, see chap. 3, “Li Ao and Friends,” in Barrett, Li Ao, 58–87.

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experience.71 We learn quickly that this is an ongoing correspondence, and not an entirely harmonious one, between two men with a connection that seems to be relatively congenial. But Li Ao frames their disagreement as one over definitions of the true Dao, opening and closing the letter with claims about Hou Gao’s misunderstanding of him, and he places the Confucian arguments for his Way at the core of the letter. When your second letter arrived, I happened to be out drinking and making merry with a few friends, and so I wasn’t able to take the time to respond. After reading your letter three times, I was moved to sigh without ceasing. Were it not that you cared for me deeply, wished me to be well and for my Way to be brilliantly manifest—how else could you write such difficult things without worry? In [my] previous letter the reason I did not accept your explanation and again rejected it is that I was about to explain my Way. My Way is not the Way of a single school; it is the Way that derives from the ancient sages. If my Way is blocked, then the Way of the superior person will disappear; if my Way is made manifest, then the Way of Yao, Shun, King Wen and King Wu, and Confucius has not yet been cut off from the world. If, blurring matters, I had agreed with the words of your last letter, that would have been like gong and shang sounding the same, and by what means would the Way become clear? Therefore I refuted your words, even knowing that you would surely resent me and repeat your words [of criticism and advice]. As for your repeatedly instructing me to go along with the times to follow the Way—your so-called “times,” are they the times of humaneness and rightness? Or are they the crass, frivolous “times”? If they are humane and right, then how could my Way be obscured in them? If I were to go along with crass, frivolous times, then I would surely be riding their waves to follow the flow, watching how the wind blows while rising and receding. If this is [what you mean], then although you see me, you indeed do not recognize [understand] me. How much more so for other people in the world? 足下復書來, 會與一二友生飲酒甚樂, 故不果以時報. 三讀足下書, 感歎 不能休. 非足下之愛我甚, 且欲吾身在而吾道光明也, 則何能開難出之 辭, 如此之無憂乎? 前書所以不受足下之說而復闢之者, 將以明吾道也. 71. Barrett examines the evidence for the two men’s relationship (Li Ao, 73–74), which consists of the letter and the epitaph that Li Ao composed for Hou upon his death, apparently a suicide. QTW 639.16a–17a.

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吾之道非一家之道, 是古聖人所由之道也. 吾之道塞, 則君子之道消 矣. 吾之道明, 則堯舜文武孔子之道未絕於地矣. 前書若與足下混然同 辭, 是宮商之一其聲音也, 道何由而明哉? 吾故拒足下之辭, 知足下必將 憤予而復其辭也. 足下再三教我適時以行道, 所謂時也者, 乃仁義之時乎? 將浮沈之時 乎? 苟仁且義, 則吾之道何所屈焉爾? 如順浮沈之時, 則必乘波隨流望 風而高下焉. 若如此, 雖足下之見我, 且不識矣. 況天下之人乎?72

Li Ao makes it clear that commitment to his Way outweighs any social instinct to politely accord with Hou Gao’s advice for him—instead, he risks insult and another letter of rebuttal in order to explain his positions clearly. The chief reason for their conflict has to be inferred to a certain extent, since we have no other letters from the correspondence. But it appears that Hou Gao is advising reclusion or simply “going along” for Li Ao, and Li Ao vehemently rejects it, arguing that if he went along with the times instead of standing by his principles, he would be abandoning Confucius’s model of fidelity to his Way despite hardship and the world’s inability to accommodate him. In the center of the letter, omitted here, Li Ao casts the difference between the two men as one of ideological commitment and interpretation; towards the conclusion, he even goes on to criticize Hou Gao’s interpretation of historical models. But the issue of understanding—personal knowledge as an important path to comprehending the Way—weaves the letter together. Li Ao reminds Hou that Yan Hui was the only one among the many disciples who “understood Confucius” (zhi Kongzi 知 孔子), an argument Li repeats in a different letter to his young nephew, urging him to “study the path of the ancient sages, and thereby understand their hearts” 學古聖之道, 而知其心.73 In his letter to Hou, Li Ao spells out the connection between social and intellectual knowledge: it was because Yan Hui understood and fully knew Confucius that he was also able to grasp his Dao most completely out of all the disciples.74 In 72. QTW 635.15a–15b. 73. QTW 636.5b. 74. See Hartman’s discussion of Han Yu’s placing examination essay of 794, in response to a question regarding Yan Hui’s uniqueness as one who “did not repeat his errors.” Han Yu accepts the importance of inner integrity that allows one to “understand by effortless intuition the outside world,” and yet his emphasis in the essay and

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the conclusion of the letter, Li Ao implies that Hou Gao resembles the other 2,999 students of Confucius who did not really understand the Master. However, there are those who, like Yan Hui, truly know Li Ao and who share his understanding of the Way: Han Yu, Meng Jiao, and others, whom he praises in many other texts. As for my relationships with Han Yu, Meng Jiao, and my fellows, they are those who have known me intimately for a long time. If they, repeating the same expressions, all said what you have argued, then among all the many people of the realm, I would not have one who knows me. How can I accept this? It’s not just that I don’t believe [the good intentions in] all that you say. It’s that if I believed you, then my Way would not be made manifest; and if I were to remain silent, then the Way would have no means of being transmitted and spoken of. As for your Way—it is something you see fit to follow yourself, but do not lecture me with it. 若韓孟與吾子之於我, 親故知我者也. 苟異口同辭, 皆如足下所說, 是僕 於天下眾多之人, 而未有一知己也. 安能合於吾心乎? 吾非不信子之云 云者也. 信子則於吾道不光矣. 欲默默, 則道無所傳云爾. 子之道, 子宜 自行之者也, 勿以誨我.75

Li Ao’s reference to the understanding of his comrades is critical here: we know from historical context and from the letter that Li Ao has thus far had little success convincing the world that his positions were worthy and his Way worth following. Li Ao’s use of Confucius in the letter is meant to show that the Way is sometimes too great to be “accommodated” (rong 容). certainly in his later writing remained on the importance of “study of the outside world that enables one to perceive by thought and effort the integrity that is within him” (Han Yü, 199–203). 75. There are two variants to be considered here. The Japanese edition of Li Ao’s works (Kunugi, Ri Kō no kenkyū, 98) has 若韓孟與吾子之與我心故知我者也 for the first sentence of this paragraph, and then 異心同辭 reads instead 異口同辭. Here I take the text given in Quan Tang wen and Wenyuan yinghua, 異心同辭, which seems far more likely, given the thrust of the letter and earlier statements. Finally, the Japanese edition of Li’s final question is not 安能合於吾之心 but 安能動於吾之心; this use of dong is consistent with Li’s discussions of dong xin in his “Fu xing shu,” but it seems not to follow coherently with Li’s argument to this point, and I take the Quan Tang wen and Wenyuan yinghua version with he instead.

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But Li Ao still faces a challenge: he does not want the Way only to be latent in the works of the past, but to be brought to bear on his contemporary world. His hope lies in the fact that there are a few others who “understand” both him and his Way, and that this group can make the Way manifest—and thereby affirm their individual grasp of the Way—in their wenzhang. Just as Li Ao is forcing himself to write back to this acquaintance with whom he disagrees, he portrays the task of the circle of writers as advocacy, using their writing to promote one another and their shared vision of the Way. From Li Ao’s perspective, Hou Gao failed to see how these objectives were inextricably interwoven.76 Throughout his texts, Li Ao wrote often about the richness of his sources of knowledge—the Classics and the works of Confucius and Mencius—but like Han Yu, he was less forthcoming on the tools for making the Way manifest beyond constant study and writing.77 His “Fu xing shu” stands as an important syncretic effort to explain his principles, but it, too, skirts the question of implementation in the social or political realm. Since he left no social poetry, there is little discussion in Li’s corpus about the details of his friendships—how he cultivated them, what his expectations were, and so on, from which we might flesh out his understanding of knowledge in friendship. But this letter to Hou Gao suggests that Li Ao saw the dividing line between the circle of zhiwozhe and others to be clear and ideological. It also reveals Li Ao’s faith in the stability of the various objects of knowledge he discusses, whether that was the Dao as an object of study or other people as consistent and knowable entities. Moreover, as later readers of Li Ao’s work realized, neither he nor Han Yu ever explained how a community of “knowers”

76. Although this exchange may have ended the intellectual component of their friendship, Li Ao’s epitaph for Hou tells us that he continued his social duties as a friend to Hou after Hou’s death, first when Hou entrusted his son to Li Ao (before leaving for Mt. Lu but dying along the way), and again when the boy’s other relatives left him orphaned a few years later. Li also notes that Hou was known to Meng Jiao and Han Yu, and that his writing showed great promise. QTW 639.16a–17a. 77. As Bol has noted, although Li Ao explores in the “Fuxing shu” the process that the sages undertook to establish their universally valid ideas, his prescriptions for his contemporaries are vague in outline. Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 138–39. See also Barrett, Li Ao.

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might arrive at a set of shared values together, even if they were in sympathy with one another personally and intellectually. This question brings us to a specific problem of mid-Tang culture that lay just beneath the surface of these letters of conflict: if, as Han, Li, and Liu claimed at different times, knowledge depended on an individual understanding of the Way and the works of the sages in the same way that one’s ability to know others was derived from personal experience and observation, what were the grounds on which disagreement over intellectual positions might be resolved? The answer is that there seems to have been no ground on which to adjudicate their differences of opinion. And these men’s debates brought that problem fully into view. Their disagreements were productive in that the force of their convictions drove them to write powerfully about new ideas, but their discussions did not lead them to reconsider the values underpinning their convictions and their tradition, a task that northern Song literati would take up, nor did it lead to intellectual consensus. The most stringent approach towards negotiating personal and intellectual conflicts among friends appears to have been largely confined to Han Yu’s circle, and yet, as we have seen in each chapter, the underlying question of how to balance one’s commitments in official life, gong, and in one’s personal life, si, remained urgent in the context of friendship. The turn towards epistemological questions that we find in these letters appears as a natural consequence of attempting to integrate different kinds of experience in ways that seemed morally and intellectually coherent, and to apply knowledge acquired in one realm to another. But the letters suggest that despite their efforts, literati found it difficult to reason from the intersubjective knowledge of human relationships to the workings of the human world, Heaven, or the Way.

Coda: In the Absence of Knowledge Letters often sought to bridge the gap of understanding between writer and reader, whether that gap was emotional or intellectual. Some gaps, however, could not be closed: Li Ao’s letter in reply to Hou Gao suggests that their friendship was likely at an end; Bai Juyi’s friendship with Yang Yuqing recedes from his corpus after Bai’s years in the south. There were

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moments in the correspondence between friends when letter-writing appears as merely a hopeful gesture, as we saw in Liu Zongyuan’s letter to Xiao Mian, and in later letters in Liu’s corpus, as his years in Yongzhou and Liuzhou passed without any positive change in circumstances. Brief comments within letters tell us that communication among friends depended heavily upon chance and favors from others, including wordof-mouth spreading of news, the copying of letters to share, and the memorization of letters for copying out later (moshu 默書).78 In the case of political disgrace and demotion or the commonplace separation of friends due to changing offices, contact between friends was irregular at best. Perhaps the most famous extant letter from the Tang, the letter from Bai Juyi to Yuan Zhen of 817, captures the unpredictability of medieval correspondence and the heightened anxiety felt by the writer as time passed without news. As he notes in the letter, when Bai Juyi first arrived in the south in 815, he learned that Yuan had been ill with malaria and perhaps on the verge of death. But in the time between that first bit of news and his writing of the 817 letter, Bai had no further communication from Yuan or reports of his health. Bai Juyi’s place of demotion was a relatively well-traveled spot on the middle Yangtze, and he seems to have had regular contact through letters and visits with several of his friends; Yuan, however, was farther afield in a corner of Sichuan, with more limited access to mutual friends or sources of news. In writing this letter in 817, Bai admits that he is sending his missive into a void of almost two years’ silence. This letter disrupts the continuity of discursive knowing and emotional sympathy in friendship that Bai so often assumed. From their fifteen years of friendship and constant literary exchanges, Bai Juyi certainly knew his own feelings and trusted that Yuan missed him, but he was not aware of Yuan’s current physical condition and had no way to overcome that lack of knowledge. Since Yuan’s first demotion in 810, their friendship had been sustained almost exclusively through texts— without the exchange of texts, did the friendship still exist?

78. In Liu Zongyuan’s letter to Li Jian, he asks Li to read and memorize the letter for writing out later (moshu), so that Cui Qun can read it, since Cui was (at the time of Liu’s writing) in the Hanlin and unable to have contact with Li or others outside. Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:802.

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On the tenth of the fourth month [of 817], I, Letian, write: Weizhi! Weizhi! I haven’t seen your face for three years, and I haven’t gotten a letter from you for almost two years now. How long is human life, that we must be parted at such a distance? And it is even harder for two hearts bonded as tightly as ours, for our bodies to be stuck in the northern and southern wilds79—when near to one another, we cannot get together, and when separated, we cannot forget one another. We are bound together and yet cut off, until we are both white-haired. Weizhi, Weizhi! That we should have come to this! Since it must be Heaven that has made it so, what is there to say? When I first arrived in Xunyang, Xiong Rudeng came and gave me your letter from the year before, when you had been so ill. At the beginning of the letter, you spoke of the state of your illness, then you spoke of being sick at heart, and at the end you talked of our lifelong bond. And then you said, “This is a moment of crisis for me, and I don’t have time to speak of more. I only enclose several packets of my writing.” After sealing them, you’d written “To send to Master Bai Twenty-second at some point, that he take this in place of a letter.” How grievous this is! You and I are indeed [as close as] this! Then I looked again at the poem that you’d written [in 815] upon hearing the news of my being sent south, which said: 四月十日夜,樂天白, 微之微之! 不見足下面已三年矣. 不得足下書欲二 年矣. 人生幾何? 離闊如此. 況以膠漆之心, 置於胡越之身, 進不得相合, 退不得相忘. 牽攣乖隔, 各欲白首. 微之微之, 如何如何! 天實為之, 謂 之奈何? 僕初到潯陽時, 有熊孺登來, 得足下前年病甚時一札, 上報疾狀, 次序 病心, 終論平生交分. 且云: 危惙之際, 不暇及他, 唯收數帙文章. 封題其 上曰: 他日送達白二十二郎, 便請以代書. 悲哉! 微之於我也, 其若是乎! 又睹所寄聞僕左降詩云: . . . 殘燈無焰影幢幢

The fading lamp has lost its flame—shadows waver and flicker;

79. Jiao qi 膠漆, glue and lacquer, as a figure for close friendship alludes to poem 18 of the Nineteen Old Poems (“A Guest Comes from Afar” 客從遠方來), which is on the topic of friendship: “Take glue and put it into lacquer; / who could separate these?” 以膠投漆中, 誰能別離此? The reference to the northern and southern wilds refers to the first of the series: “The Hu horse leans in the north wind, / the Yue bird nests in the southern branches” 胡馬依北風, 越鳥巢南枝. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi, 1:333, 329.

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To Know and Be Known 此夕聞君謫九江 垂死病中驚起坐 闇風吹雨入寒窗

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this night I have heard that you are banished to Jiujiang. Sick almost to the point of death, I start upright in my bed— A wind from the dark blows rain through my chilly window.80

Even other people would not be able to stand hearing these words—it is even harder for me. Even now, every time I recite this poem, I feel anguished. But let me leave these matters aside and give you a general account of what has been on my mind of late. It is three years now since I came to the district of Jiujiang.81 Not only is my body healthy, but my mind is very much at ease. As for my household, fortunately no one is suffering from illness. My oldest brother came to us last summer from Xuzhou, and six or seven little orphaned nieces and nephews arrived hand-in-hand with him. Where before I worried about them, now they are all settled in front of me, and together we share the cold and heat, surfeit and famine. This is one source of peace. The Jiangzhou climate is moderately cool, and the region has little malaria. And though there are snakes and vipers, mosquitoes and gnats, they are few. The Pen River fish are quite fat, and the ale made from the Yangtze is extremely fine. As for other foods, most of them are like those in northern regions. So though my household has many mouths to feed, and the salary of a marshal is not large, if I am frugal with my income, I am able to provide for them. For the clothes on our backs and food for our mouths I don’t have to ask for help from anyone. This is a second source of peace. Last autumn I began to travel near Mount Lu, and I went to the Eastern and Western Forest Monasteries beneath Incense-Burner Peak. There I saw clouds and water, springs coming from rocks—it was the most beautiful site ever. I cherished it so much I couldn’t leave it, and so I built a thatched cottage. In front of it there are dozens of mighty pines, and more than a thousand tall bamboos. Green creepers serve as walls, and white

80. The version of this poem extant in Yuan Zhen’s collection varies in a few places from the text of the letter in Bai Juyi’s collections: in line 1, for 幢幢, Yuan’s edition reads 憧憧, a likely graphic variant; in line 3, for 驚起坐, Yuan has 仍悵望, which appears to be a true change. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu, 650–51. 81. As Zhu notes, Bai is counting by reign years: he was demoted in Yuanhe 10 (815), and it is now Yuanhe 12 (817). Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2816.

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rocks form the paths and bridges. Water flows down everywhere around the hut, and flying springs fall through the eaves. Azaleas and white lotus are scattered all over the ponds and stone stairs. It’s roughly like this, but I can’t give a full account. Every time I go there by myself, I am gone for a fortnight. Everything I have cherished all my life is found there: not only do I forget to return, but I could also end my days there. This is my third source of peace. When I count how long it has been since you received a letter from me, I am sure you must be expecting one with great anxiety. Therefore I have presented these three reasons for my peace of mind first, and as for other matters, I will describe them in a later letter. Weizhi, Weizhi! On the night I write this letter, I am right here in my thatched cottage beneath my mountain window, letting my brush run as it will, scribbling as I follow my thoughts; and now that it is time to seal it up, I realize it is almost dawn. Raising my head I see only one or two mountain monks, sitting or sleeping, and I also hear the mountain gibbons and the valley birds mournfully calling and chirping. The friends of a lifetime are thousands of miles away from me. Suddenly I think on the dusty world, and this fleeting moment in our brief lives. Bound by habit, I compose these rhymes: 此句他人尚不可聞, 況僕心哉! 至今每吟, 猶惻惻耳. 且置是事, 略序近 懷. 僕自到九江, 已涉三載. 形骸且健, 方寸甚安. 下至家人, 幸皆無恙. 長 兄去夏自徐州至, 又有諸院孤小弟妹六七人提挈同來. 頃所牽念者, 今 悉置在目前, 得同寒煖饑飽. 此一泰也. 江州風候稍涼, 地少瘴癘. 乃至蛇虺蚊蚋, 雖有甚稀. 湓魚頗肥, 江酒 極美. 其餘食物, 多類北地. 僕門內之口雖不少, 司馬之俸雖不多, 量入儉 用, 亦可自給. 身衣口食且免求人. 此二泰也. 僕去年秋始遊廬山, 到東西二林間香爐峰下, 見雲水泉石, 勝絕第一. 愛不能捨因置草堂. 前有喬松十數株, 修竹千餘竿. 青蘿為墻垣, 白石為 橋道. 流水周於舍下, 飛泉落於簷間. 紅榴白蓮, 羅生池砌. 大抵若是, 不 能殫記. 每一獨往, 動彌旬日. 平生所好者, 盡在其中. 不唯忘歸, 可以終 老. 此三泰也. 計足下久不得僕書, 必加憂望, 今故錄三泰, 以先奉報. 其 餘事況, 條寫如後云云. 微之微之! 作此書夜, 正在草堂中山峰下, 信手把筆, 隨意亂書, 封題 之時, 不覺欲曙. 舉頭但見山僧一兩人, 或坐或睡, 又聞山猿谷鳥, 哀鳴 啾啾. 平生故人, 去我萬里. 瞥然塵念, 此際蹔生. 餘習所牽, 便成三韻 云: . . . .

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To Know and Be Known 憶昔封書與君夜 金鑾殿後欲明天 今夜封書在何處 廬山庵裏曉燈前 籠鳥檻猿俱未死 人間相見是何年

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I remember one night when I sealed a letter to you: it was almost daybreak behind Goldenbell Palace.82 This night as I seal a letter, where am I now? In a hut on Mount Lu, by a lamp at dawn. Neither the caged bird nor the captured monkey has yet died— yet what year will we see each other in this human realm?

Weizhi, Weizhi! Do you know what is in my heart this night? Letian bows to you. 微之微之! 此夕此心, 君知之乎! 樂天頓首.83

This brief letter conveys the fear about knowing and being known over time and space that other mid-Tang literati also felt keenly. But it is an unusual example of a medieval letter, first for its stylistic variation and shifts of register (opening with formal tetrasyllabic prose lines, moving to an informal narrative style), and second for its inclusion of two full poems in the body of the text, something we find in no extant letter before this time. Bai’s formal and rhetorical choices can be understood as his attempt to manage the difficult communicative situation he faced: in this letter sent into the unknown, he had to use language that would be appropriate whether he was writing to someone who was dead or alive. Because the symmetry of their friendship has been broken by the lack of communication from Yuan, Bai must compensate by summoning Yuan’s presence in the letter in multiple ways—by expressing his despair over having no news, by depicting Yuan’s response to news of his punishment, including Yuan’s own words, and by repeating Yuan’s name four times. Invoking the recipient of the letter directly in the text, a common epistolary convention, is in part an epistemological 82. Bai Juyi is referring to the years when they were both in office in Chang’an; Goldenbell Palace was one of the imperial offices. Specifically, he is remembering a poem composed in 810 when he was in the Hanlin, “Writing a Letter to Yuan Ninth at Night in the Imperial Palace” 禁中夜作書與元九 (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 2:805). 83. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2814–16.

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move, a claim on the part of the writer to understand the feelings and even the physical condition of the recipient.84 But in contrast to the responsiveness we saw in their exchange poetry, and even in contrast to Bai’s 815 letter to Yuan that discusses literature, this letter does not attempt to elicit replies from Yuan. Bai Juyi cites Yuan’s poem, but he asks no real questions of him in return, makes no requests, offers no statements about the future, and sends no wishes. Bai discloses himself in the letter by describing his “peace of mind,” which he presents as a gift to Yuan, but he avoids confronting the possibility that Yuan will not answer. Furthermore, if we place Bai’s self-portrait in this letter alongside the ones from earlier letters, we see that the version of peace in this text seems to have a different function entirely. Where in the letters to more distant friends Bai advertised himself as a sage and showcased his own wisdom in adversity, in this letter he acknowledges the limits of his knowledge in the phenomenal realm. His narrative of interactions with people and things within his immediate social, visual, and tactile realms delineates the narrow world in which he finds contentment. Rather than using his immediate experience as a path to other kinds of literary or philosophical speculation, Bai Juyi attends closely to the material conditions of the two men’s communication, from Yuan’s desperate inscription on his packet to his own sense of “letting my brush run as it will, scribbling as I follow my thoughts.” In the final lines of the letter, Bai seems to realize that this momentary, existential form of knowledge is all he can securely claim. The entire letter attempts to convey ci xi ci xin 此夕此心—literally, “this night and this heart”—but Bai cannot be sure if even this small portrait will be seen, if the brief text will ever be read by its addressee. His final poignant utterance to Yuan, jun zhi zhi hu 君知之乎, can be read as either a question or a wish, or perhaps both simultaneously: “do you know?” or “may you know,” using language often found in the conclusions of offering texts for the deceased. By the close of the letter, we can see that Bai Juyi does not truly expect a response. Though we know from notes in one of Yuan’s poems that Bai Juyi finally received a letter and poems from Yuan a year later in 818, this is the last letter from Bai to Yuan extant in Bai’s 84. Schneider, The Culture of Epistolarity, 28–29.

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corpus, and there are no extant letters from Yuan to Bai in Yuan’s corpus outside of the one letter of 815.85

ƒ Bai Juyi’s letter is an exquisitely drawn self-portrait for his absent friend; but like a self-portrait or a reflection in a mirror, it is constructed only from Bai’s vision, silently excluding Yuan’s perspective. By capturing what happens when the expectation of engagement in letters disappears, Bai Juyi’s letter underscores the intellectual and literary vitality of letters between friends. In the mid-Tang letters we have examined here, the assumption of response creates a dynamic epistemology, the belief that by communicating the writer’s self-knowledge and knowledge about larger questions, letters could lead to deeper understanding between writer and recipient as well as greater knowledge of the topics under discussion. When writing to trusted friends, these mid-Tang literati addressed their recipients as interlocutors, while raising questions for debate, defending themselves against real or suspected charges, and writing passionately about serious concerns. For this and for their role in sustaining relationships and debates over time and space, letters hold a unique place in the literary culture of the period. And sometimes they were simply a source of pleasure, as Liu Zongyuan wrote to his friend Li Jian: To Biaozhi: the provincial courier arrived unexpectedly, and I received your letter, and I also received through Liu Yuxi your letter from before that; your thoughts in both of them were earnestly generous. Zhuang Zhou said, “Those who withdraw to wild, brambled places, hearing the tramping sound of human footsteps, are indeed happy.” Since I have been

85. Yuan Zhen ji, 1:155–56; see also Bian, Yuan Zhen nianpu, 293. In his preface to his response to Bai’s “Song of the Southeast” (discussed in chap. 3), which was clearly written after his return to Chang’an, Yuan states that he received a packet from Bai from a messenger sent by a mutual friend in 818, and that packet contained a “letter written on the second of the twelfth month of 817,” and twenty-four poems. However, there is no letter dated to the twelfth month in Bai’s collection; it may be that this letter, which is dated to the fourth month, was also enclosed, or Bai may have sent the letter under a new date. There is no evidence in Yuan’s collection of when he saw this particular letter.

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among the southern barbarians, obtaining your two letters was better than the best medicine, making me happier than I can say. 杓直足下: 州傳遽至, 得足下書, 又於夢得處得足下前次一書, 意皆勤厚. 莊周言, 逃蓬藋者, 聞人足音, 則跫然喜. 僕在蠻夷中, 比得足下二書, 及 致藥餌, 喜復何言.86

86. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:801. The passage Liu paraphrases from Zhuangzi comes from chap. 24, “Xu Wugui” 徐無鬼; Zhuangzi jiaoquan, 2:921.

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For the Dead and the Living: Performing Friendship after Death When Yan Yuan died, the Master cried, “Ah! Heaven has bereft me! Heaven has bereft me!” 顏淵死, 子曰, 噫! 天喪予! 天喪予! —Analects 11.9 In the leap month, Fan Zongshi’s envoy came to mourn [for Meng Jiao], announce the burial date, and request an epitaph from me. Wailing, I said, “Alas! Can I even bear to write an epitaph for my friend!” 閏月, 樊宗師使來弔, 告葬期, 徵銘. 愈哭曰, 嗚呼! 吾尚忍銘吾友也 夫! —Han Yu, “Epitaph for the Master of Pure Brilliance”

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n the breadth of mid-Tang writing on friendship, some of the most powerful texts to survive are those composed upon the death of friends. The medieval Chinese processes of mourning and burial were extraordinarily complex, lengthy, and expensive, involving outlays of money, goods, time, and many texts of lament and commemoration that were inscribed on stone, written on paper, and addressed to both the living and the dead.1 While fulfilling important social and ritual functions and addressing multiple

epigraph: The Han Yu epigraph is from Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2025; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 6:2091. Meng Jiao died on September 12, 814. 1. For a discussion of some expenses involved in Tang funerary practices, see Tackett, “Great Clansmen, Bureaucrats, and Local Magnates,” 107–8, and Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, 16–25. Tackett underscores the importance of entombed epitaphs as a marker of elite status.

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audiences, funerary texts also documented elite social relations—including kinship, marriage, and friendship—extensively and from many different perspectives. In recent decades, scholars of early and medieval China have begun to use these texts to shed new light on areas of social and cultural history. The record of epitaphs, eulogies, and other texts of mourning from the late Han on reveal that literati memorial writing for the dead captured the details of social networks well beyond kinship circles, and included patrons, friends, female relations of other literati, and a wide circle of acquaintance.2 As we see in the growing presence of funerary writing in individual Tang collections over the course of the dynasty, the cultural value of funerary writing also rose steadily during the Tang. The thousands of extant funerary texts in those collections suggest that this kind of writing became increasingly significant as a marker of literati status over time—for both the deceased people who were commemorated and the writers of those commemorations. In the case of mid-Tang friendship, funerary writings offer us a little-explored trove of information about social relationships among literati and the meanings they discovered in them. Texts of mourning and commemoration from the late eighth and early ninth centuries also represent an important moment in Chinese literary history, a golden age of funerary writing.3 Not only are mid-Tang funerary texts longer, more numerous, and more stylistically diverse than those from earlier periods, but they also constitute a larger 2. For some recent examples of this scholarship see Brown, The Politics of Mourning; Tackett, “Great Clansmen, Bureaucrats, and Local Magnates” and Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy; Timothy M. Davis, “Potent Stone: Entombed Epigraphy and Memorial Culture in Early Medieval China” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2008); Jessey Choo, “Historicized Ritual and Ritualized History—Women’s Lifecycle in Late Medieval China (600–1000)” (Ph.D. diss. Princeton University, 2009); and the extensive scholarship of Ping Yao based on Tang women’s epitaphs, including “Cousin Marriages in Tang China (618–907),” Chinese Historical Review 18.1 (2011): 25–55, and “Women’s Epitaphs in Tang China (618–907),” in Beyond Exemplar Tales: New Approaches to Chinese Women’s Lives, ed. Hu Ying and Joan Judge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), 185–207. Historians of the Song and later eras have made considerable use of the larger body of epitaphs for the study of social history. 3. A number of scholars have made this point with regard to entombed epitaphs from the mid-Tang, but I argue that it is true for all of the genres of funerary writing. See, for example, Luo Weiming 羅維明, Zhonggu muzhi ciyu yanjiu 中古墓志詞語研究 (Jinan daxue chubanshe, 2003), 5–10.

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percentage of certain influential writers’ works, as in the case of Quan Deyu and Han Yu, who were especially famous for their funerary writing.4 Being asked to compose an entombed epitaph for a famous man, as Han Yu was on the death of Quan Deyu in 818, was a prestigious form of cultural capital, in that it verified the writer’s reputation in the eyes of the deceased’s family and the larger community. In addition, the financial benefits of writing entombed epitaphs in particular may have been considerable for certain literati.5 And despite the fact that they included perhaps the most conservative and formulaic kinds of wenzhang in the medieval tradition, funerary texts were yet another literary arena in which mid-Tang writers innovated. Whether their commemorations were inscribed on stone, in the forms of the entombed epitaph inscriptions (muzhiming 墓誌銘), spirit path stele inscriptions (shen dao bei 神道碑), or other supplementary inscriptions (such as mubei 墓碑), or were intended to be performed orally as laments or offerings (in aici 哀詞 or jiwen 祭文), and then perhaps preserved in manuscripts, mid-Tang literati brought new styles into their commemorations for the dead, most visibly in their funerary texts for the closest of relatives and friends.6 When writing after the separation created by death, literati sought to reaffirm the value of friendship publicly, with sincerity, and in many voices. 4. Given the relatively smaller size of pre-Rebellion collections overall, it is impossible to determine whether these changes point to the changing cultural value of funerary texts in the ninth century or simply reflect different kinds of collection and preservation practices. However, the financial benefits of composing funerary texts in the early ninth century, which are well documented, would certainly have made them more appealing to master and even excel at. Han’s fame as a composer of funerary texts has often been discussed, but the contributions of Quan Deyu have yet to be fully explored. For one recent study of Quan’s contributions to funerary writing, see Wang Hongxia, Quan Deyu yanjiu, 207–65. 5. Twitchett discusses the example of Li Hua, who apparently supported himself for a stretch of his career on commissions for epitaphs, Writing of Official History, 76n33. Anecdotes in the Guo shi bu also satirize the literati enthusiasm for writing epitaphs for money in the absence of other work; see the anecdotes translated in Shields, “Gossip, Anecdote, and Literary History: Representations of the Yuanhe 元和 era in Tang Anecdote Collections,” in Chen and Schaberg, Idle Talk, 114–15. 6. On this point, see Wang Li 王立, “Gudai daoji wenxue zhong de guren gushi yuzhi wangren moshi” 古代悼祭文學中的古人古事喻指亡人模式, Jingzhou shifan xueyuan xuebao 荊州師範學院學報 4 (2003): 14–16.

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Mid-Tang writers who composed funerary texts were required to master a wide range of forms, conventions, and ritual norms for commemorating the dead and then fit those appropriately to the life of the deceased. When writing for close family members and friends, as Han Yu’s remark about writing the epitaph for Meng Jiao shows, this could be both an honor and a weighty responsibility. Han Yu became famous for his skill at composing funerary texts in all genres but perhaps was best known for his entombed epitaphs, a fact that prompted one tongnian friend to remark on his deathbed, “To be buried without an account by Han Yu is not to be buried at all.”7 The collections of Han Yu, Quan Deyu, and Liu Zongyuan in particular reveal an extraordinary range of subjects, including texts for ancestors, patrons, friends, cousins, and even for wives, children, and grandchildren of both sexes. The tone and perspective a writer would adopt in a text depended heavily on the specific subgenre of funerary writing and on the writer’s relationship with the deceased. Inscriptional texts tended to be more serious, factual, and biographical in a chronologically linear fashion, though also eulogistic, whereas the more lyrical forms of mourning texts, such as offering texts or laments, allowed a writer to express personal and emotional responses to individual deaths. The offering texts by Han Yu, Bai Juyi, and Quan Deyu for children and other close family members are among the most poignant texts from the Tang. Their texts for close friends give us yet more insight into the complex dimensions of friendship in ninth-century culture and the influence of friendship on changes in literary writing.8 Given that the different subgenres of funerary composition had different moods and formal conventions, multiple extant texts for a single 7. Noted in McMullen, “Han Yü,” 646. Han Yu himself recorded the comment in his epitaph for Zhang Jiyou (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2082; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 6:2124). 8. The changes that these writers brought to funerary texts should also be situated in the broader context of interest in ritual reform at both the state and popular levels during the Zhenyuan and Yuanhe reign periods, interest that extended to writing new etiquette manuals, an activity to which Han Yu himself contributed. See Zhao Heping, Tang Wudai shuyi yanjiu 唐五代書儀研究 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1995); and Huang Zhengjian 黃正建, “Li zhi biange yu zhong wan Tang shehui zhengzhi” 禮制變革與中晚唐社會政, in his Zhong wan Tang shehui yu zhengzhi yanjiu 中晚唐社會與政治研究 (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2006), esp. 237–44.

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individual allow us to reconstruct a more refined portrait of the deceased and his relationship to the writers of the texts. Sometimes we find multiple texts in different genres in a single person’s corpus—for example, Han Yu wrote both the entombed epitaph and also an offering text for Liu Zongyuan. Writing multiple texts for a single person, as Liu Zongyuan also did for Lü Wen in 811, Liu Yuxi did upon Liu Zongyuan’s death in 819, and Bai Juyi did for Yuan Zhen in 831, gave writers the chance to cover the breadth of a life in different voices and, in the context of close friendship, to situate themselves in the record of the deceased’s life.9 Upon Han Yu’s death, his close friends took on the responsibility of writing a range of biographical and funerary texts that offered distinct but complementary views of Han and their relations with him. Li Ao was tasked with composing the account of conduct (xingzhuang 行狀), Huangfu Shi wrote both the entombed epitaph and a spirit path stele inscription, and at least three men, Huangfu Shi, Li Ao, and Liu Yuxi, wrote and preserved their offering texts for Han Yu. (Zhang Ji may have also composed an offering text in the conventional tetrasyllabic line, but he has in his collection a rare pentasyllabic “offering poem” [ji shi 祭詩] entitled “Offering to Tuizhi” 祭退之, instead.) Although some texts such as the posthumous biography and the entombed epitaph were apparently singular, with only one of each being composed for the deceased, there seems to have been no fixed limit to the number of supplementary inscriptions that might be provided, and it would be quite appropriate for close friends to provide them. Moreover, in the case of offering texts, which were to be presented coffin-side (by the mourner or his designated representative), presumably any elite man who was either kin or close friends with the deceased might be expected to compose and deliver one. The death of a friend thus provided literati with many opportunities to commemorate his life in performed and inscribed texts. The social uses of funerary texts became especially prominent, even urgent, in literati friendship. In the canonical sources for funerary rites,

9. Composing multiple texts for a single individual may have been a more prevalent practice than we can determine, given the poor state of preservation of most Tang prose collections. Moreover, when finalizing a collection, authors or literary executors may have routinely chosen to preserve only one funerary text for a particular individual.

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the family and the lineage had always been the primary focus of the mourning and burial rituals in China. Aside from the material fact of being buried in the ancestral plot, which was the ideal for Tang elites, most inscriptional texts foreground the lineage and the living descendants of the deceased, and the descendants of the deceased would of course continue the ancestral sacrifices in future years. An entombed epitaph, like a biography from the standard history (a form that it contributed to and greatly resembled), typically opened with an account of the deceased’s ancestors, their regional provenance, their achievements, and offices. The biographical descriptions of the deceased in funerary writing also tended to focus narrowly on the individual’s immediate family and his or her accomplishments. It was not simply that funerary writing gave lineage pride of place, but also that it allotted no fixed or conventional place to accounts of friendship. Inserting friendships coherently and naturally into inscriptional narratives thus required a certain degree of craft. By contrast, since laments and offering texts were written from an individual, personal perspective and emphasized mourning over historical commemoration, they gave writers greater latitude to focus on relationships or experiences outside the family. Furthermore, in the absence of a famous or well-documented lineage, funerary texts could record the deceased’s circle of friends as a kind of substitute family, as we will see below in the examples of Dugu Shenshu and Meng Jiao. The need to commemorate a social network was particularly acute for men who died with few living family members to mourn their deaths, like Meng, or who died young, without having accomplished much, like Dugu. Writers could also reach back in time to friendships from long ago and reinscribe past social relationships into a contemporary document, as Bai Juyi did in his offering text for Cui Qun in 827, going back two decades to when he, Liu Yuxi, and Yuan Zhen all associated with Cui.10 For surviving friends, the exchange of funerary texts within a circle could sustain the bonds of the group after the death of one of its members. For example, Bai Juyi, in an 832 letter to Liu Yuxi, thanked Liu for sending a copy of Liu’s own offering text for Yuan Zhen, who had just died the year before. In return, Bai promised, he would send Liu a hand copy of his offering text for Cui Qun.11 Writers could then circulate such 10. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3762. 11. Ibid., 6:3940.

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texts outside the circle as a way to advertise their literary talent or their ideas, as we see in Han Yu’s colophon to his 802 lament for his tongnian friend who died young, Ouyang Zhan; here, Han both affirms his ties with Cui and reaches out to a prospective patron. By nature I’m not fond of calligraphy, but having composed this piece, I have copied it out twice. The first copy I sent to Cui Qun of the Qinghe Cui clan. Since Qun and I were both student friends of Ouyang, we both are sad that in life he died without attaining his place, and we grieve even after the time of wailing has passed. The other copy I have just sent to Mr. Liu Kang of the Pengcheng Liu clan. Since he is fond of “antique-style prose” (guwen) and considers what I do to be in consonance with antiquity, he visited my dwelling to ask for compositions eight or nine times without resentment, his resolve only growing stronger. 愈性不喜書, 自為此文, 惟自書兩通. 其一通遺清河崔群, 群與余皆歐陽 生友也, 哀生之不得位而死, 哭之過時而悲. 其一通以遺彭城劉君伉, 君喜古文, 以吾所為合於古, 詣吾廬而來請者八九至, 而其色不怨, 志益 堅. 12

This and other incidental notes underscore the textuality of funerary writing that flourished in conjunction with its ritual, performative dimensions, and it reminds us of the material presence of funerary texts in the larger body of compositions that literati circulated as a matter of course.13 In a letter to his friend Zhang Jian 張薦 (744–804), Quan

12. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1500; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 5:1522. See also Nienhauser, “Literature as a Source for Traditional History,” 1–14. Nienhauser’s translation of this colophon appears on p. 11. 13. For scholarship on the literary qualities of funerary writing, an area of research that has been growing in recent decades, see Ronald C. Egan, The Literary Works of Ouyang Hsiu (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 49–63; C. M. Lai, “The Art of Lamentation in the Works of Pan Yue: ‘Mourning the Eternally Departed,’ ” JAOS 114 (1994): 409–25; Robert Joe Cutter, “Saying Goodbye: The Transformation of the Dirge in Early Medieval China,” Early Medieval China 10–11, pt. 1 (2004): 67–129; Alan J. Berkowitz, “The Last Piece in the Wen xuan: Wang Sengda’s ‘Offering for Imperial Household Grandee Yan,’ ” Early Medieval China 10–11, pt. 1 (2004): 177–201; Wang Li 王立, Yongheng de juanlian: Daoji wenxue de zhuti shi yanjiu 永恆的眷戀: 悼祭文學 的主題詩研究 (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1999); Cheng Zhangcan 程章燦, Shi xue luncong 石學論叢 (Taibei: Da’an chubanshe, 1999).

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Deyu writes of his sorrow at a string of recent deaths in his family, and he encloses with his letter copies of the offering texts for his daughter-inlaw, for his son-in-law’s father (Cui Zao, who had been Quan’s patron and who was also friend to Zhang, as Quan states in the letter), and for another son-in-law, as well as the entombed epitaph for his own daughter.14 Funerary texts functioned as gifts in these exchanges, with all the social meanings that gifts entailed, including emotional bonding, status definition, and obligations on the recipient. Preserving funerary compositions and records of sharing them in one’s collection thereby doubled their impact on the reputation of the deceased and of the writer. Finally, among the many purposes of funerary writing, we cannot ignore the more elusive goal of spiritual communication with the deceased, a concern that seems especially fraught in funerary texts for friends.15 As the final formal opportunities to express one’s feelings toward the dead, these texts carried a heavy emotional burden in addition to their social and ritual meanings. Unlike kinship ties, which were assumed to endure after death and were continually reinforced through sacrifices to the spirits, friendship ties were severed at death in terms of ritual observance and public recognition of the bond. Although it was to some extent a convention of the genre, the offering text composed for deceased friends often asked the same questions in the closing lines: “Do the dead understand our feelings? Can they hear and understand our words?” Friendship may have even heightened this anxiety for mourners—communication with ancestors and relatives, though difficult, was believed to happen regularly, but communication with the dead to whom one was not related may have been thought less reliable. Individual religious beliefs clearly affected writers’ positions on this issue. As we will see below, Liu Zongyuan’s skepticism about the existence of the spirit world colors his offering text for Lü Wen and seems to intensify his grief; Bai Juyi’s belief in Buddhist reincarnation, conversely, seems to provide him with some solace in his offering text for Yuan Zhen. The fact that funerary writings represented the last utter14. Quan Deyu shi wen ji, 2:630–31. 15. For a discussion of the multiple religious and spiritual functions of early medieval entombed epitaphs, see Davis, “Potent Stone,” 76–128. For the communicative function of offering texts, see Shields, “Words for the Dead and the Living: Innovations in the Mid-Tang ‘Offering text’ (祭文),” T’ang Studies 25 (2007), 119–22.

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ances to friends surely increased their personal value in the eyes of their composers. Although we cannot know how such texts functioned for the writer during the remainder of his life, we can imagine that epitaphs and laments would be treasured and reread as the years passed, as reminders of and perhaps even reimagined conversations with the dead.

Funerary Inscriptions for Friends Tang funerary texts reveal that friendship circles could, in certain circumstances, serve as a replacement or extension of the family in the performance of the ritual and practical matters of death. These matters extended in all directions, from selecting the writers of the all-important inscriptions, through attending to the burial site (a particularly expensive and difficult chore if the body had to be buried and then moved for reburial later, or transported long distances to be buried), to providing for the surviving family’s financial needs, which could be considerable. Just as Bai Juyi’s letter to Yang Yuqing provides a glimpse of the financial and logistical responsibilities of true friendship in life, the epitaphs that document these details reveal the array of duties to friends that persisted after death.16 As we saw in Quan Deyu’s preface and collection for Tang Ci in chapter 3, rhetorically gathering a circle of literati around a friend to defend him was a very powerful act; after death, it could resonate even more profoundly. An epitaph composed by Liu Zongyuan for Dugu Shenshu 獨孤申 叔 (775–802), a literatus who died aged twenty-seven sui, vividly demonstrates the rhetorical power of such texts to assemble a social circle. It is figuratively signed by no fewer than eleven other literati whom Liu calls Dugu’s you 友 and zhizhe 知者, here meaning “those who knew him.” Han Yu also has a text for Dugu in his collection, a brief lament (aici) 16. See Brown, The Politics of Mourning, 85–103, for a discussion of the rhetoric of friendship and collegiality in Han stele inscriptions. She notes that “while the rhetoric of friendship and collegiality no doubt concealed what were often in fact relationships between individuals of uneven power, the significance of such rhetoric must not be overlooked, as it reveals that members of the Eastern Han elite preferred to speak of their relationships in terms other than ‘duty to lord and father’ ” (96).

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that praises him in a rather impersonal manner, and he does not identify himself or anyone else as friend to Dugu.17 Liu Zongyuan’s inscription not only fulfills all the expected functions of an entombed epitaph, including providing a list of ancestors and praising the deceased, but it documents the network of friends in which Dugu lived. The text also provides an excellent opportunity to consider the possible changes between the inscription and the preservation of the epitaph text, since the stone itself was discovered in May of 2000 in the outskirts of Xi’an and is now held at the Xi’an Beilin [Stele Forest] Museum.18 Though we cannot know if Liu chose it, the epitaph’s title in his collection is quite detailed and precise: “Tomb Stele for Deceased Friend and Former Imperial Editor in the Imperial Library, Dugu Shenshu” 亡 友故秘書省校書郎獨孤申叔墓碑. The excavated inscription, however, does not contain the phrase “deceased friend” (wangyou). What might have prompted Liu—or perhaps a compiler or later editor of his collection—to include it in the title?19 In the context of Liu’s own collection (whether he or someone else titled the work), the phrase wangyou— implicitly “deceased friend of mine”—situates the text and the person in Liu’s biography and his literary work, in the same way that wangqi 亡 妻, “deceased wife [of mine],” clarifies the mourner’s relationship to the deceased.20 The phrase wangyou, as we will see in other funerary texts, appears to have had the specific function of identifying the significance of the connection between writer and deceased. Although some texts written for wang you were more personal than those for men who were

17. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1546–47; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:1512. 18. A comparative study of the excavated and the received version of the text was published in 2002: see Zhou Xiaowei 周曉薇, “Xin chutu Liu Zongyuan zuan ‘Dugu Shenshu muzhi’ kanzheng” 新出土柳宗元攥‘獨孤申叔墓志’ 勘証, Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 3 (2002): 35–41. This kind of study will surely increase in coming decades, as more tomb steles are found, catalogued, and published. For another examination of the differences between an excavated inscription and its transmitted text, see Cheng Zhangcan’s essay on one of Yuan Zhen’s epitaphs in Shi xue luncong, 267–73. 19. Although we cannot always trust titles of texts in Tang collections, this is a case in which it seems possible to credit Liu for the difference. I discuss more examples of the phrase below. 20. See, for example, Liu’s epitaph for his deceased wife, “Epitaph for [My] Deceased Wife of the Hongnong Yang Clan” 亡妻弘農楊氏志, Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:338.

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less well-known to the writer,21 rather than indicating emotional intimacy the term seems more often meant to clarify the claim the deceased had on the writer—that is, the claim that one you 友 could legitimately make of another after death. As noted above, such claims could include supplying the wherewithal for the inscription and erection of steles, writing compositions of praise and commemoration, contributing funds for the funerary procession and burial, and finally even personally attending to the needs of surviving family members, particularly widows and children. In the context of Dugu’s epitaph, Liu Zongyuan’s goal is to commemorate the deceased and publicize the circle of friends who recognized his talent. Unfortunately, it is difficult to reconstruct the details of Dugu’s life or death, since neither Tang history contains a biography, and he left few texts. We can speculate that he had been affiliated with men such as Liang Su or Lu Zhi, since he was of the same Dugu clan as Dugu Ji (according to one reference in a Xin Tang shu genealogy),22 though a distant descendant. We also know that he passed the jinshi in 797 and the boxue hongci in 799, which places him among the illustrious cohorts of men from the 790s, alongside many of the men listed as zhizhe on the stele.23 The mid-Tang anecdote collection Guo shi bu contains a story about Dugu (a shorter version of which was later included in Xin Tang shu) that may explain his fate so lamented here: according to the Guo shi bu, in 796, Dugu and another courtier, Cai Nanshi 蔡南史, wrote satirical songs to mock an imperial princess who had a falling-out

21. The use of wangyou as a marker of intimacy is more prevalent in Tang offering texts; it rarely occurs in entombed epitaphs and in fact is concentrated in mid-Tang offering texts specifically. Of the twenty-five instances of the phrase wangyou I have identified in the Quan Tang wen and its supplements, only seven occur in texts from before the 790s or after the 830s, and all but five appear in funerary compositions, either inscriptions or offering texts. See, for example, Li Hua’s offering text for Xiao Yingshi, where Li calls Xiao a wangyou and describes their friendship as follows: “All our lives we knew one another; our feelings and bodies were like one” 平生相知, 情體如一 (QTW 321.16b). 22. XTS 75.B3440. 23. For Dugu’s jinshi degree, see Xu Song, comp., Dengke jikao, 1:514; see 1:527 for his success in the boxue hongci exam of 799, which gave him the position of Editor. Liu Zongyuan’s close friend Lü Wen also passed the boxue hongci with Dugu. Zhang Ji and Li Jingjian passed the jinshi in 799.

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with her husband, Wang Shiping 王士平. Angered, Dezong demoted Dugu and Cai to punish them for their satirical songs. From the tone of Liu’s epitaph, it seems that Dugu died while still in disgrace.24 It is clear that he held promise as an official: occupying the position of editor (a “pure office” from which he could expect to rise) at age twenty-seven was by no means living in obscurity. In commemorating this brief life, Liu reconstructs a network around Dugu that is not merely social—as Liu configures it, this is a fellowship of men who aligned themselves with Dugu’s moral commitments. The middle passages of the text make this clear: Alas! Master Dugu’s Way was harmonious and pure; in employ he was upright and brilliant. In his family he was filial, to those outside he was humane; when he was quiet, he was wise, and when he spoke he was trusted. When in hardship, he was not anguished; when he was joyful, he was not licentious. In his reading, he promoted the Way of Confucius, and he always sought [those principles] within. His compositions were profound and rich; he deeply admired the ancient and the refined, and praised [the modes of ] rhapsody and hymn. In all essential [matters], he drew from the Way. In the age of Confucius, there was Yan Hui who was capable enough to be found by Confucius. Those who looked up to [Yan Hui] thereafter compared him to the sun and the moon, and no one could refute them. Alas! Master Dugu’s brilliance and humaneness were such that if he had encountered Confucius, there would have been two Yans. In today’s generation, were there any who knew he was like this? And how could those who knew him be believed in the world? For the master to die young and without heirs—this is the fault and delusion of this age [for not recognizing his talent]; and yet we say that this is still the Way of Heaven. “Ai! This is excessive.”25 . . .

24. Guo shi bu, 56. See also the notes in Tao Min 陶敏 and Li Dehui 李德輝 et al., eds., Quan Tang Wudai biji 全唐五代筆記 (Xi’an: San Qin chubanshe, 2012), 1:844; this edition gives variants found in Taiping guangji and Tang yulin. For the Xin Tang shu version of the story, which is included in the princess’s biographical note, see XTS 83:3664. 25. An allusion to the first chapter of “Tangong” in the Li ji, where Confucius says that wailing longer than one year for one’s mother is excessive. Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), vol. 14. Cf. note 41 on p. 44 in this book.

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Alas! The master’s fate was brief, and his days of walking the Way did not last long. Though his Way had been trusted and set out to his friends, it had not yet been trusted or set out to the world. Today I record on this tombstone those who knew him. . . . [here follows a list of twelve friends that included Liu Zongyuan himself, Han Yu, Liu Yuxi, Lü Wen, Han Tai, and Cui Qun, among others, most of whom are identified with clan choronym and style name]. 嗚呼! 獨孤君之道和而純, 其用端而明, 內之為孝, 外之為仁, 默而智, 言 而信. 其窮也不憂, 其樂也不淫. 讀書推孔子之道, 必求諸其中. 其為文 深而厚, 尤慕古雅, 善賦頌, 其要咸歸於道. 昔孔子之世, 有顏回者, 能得 於孔子, 後之仰其賢者, 譬之如日月而莫有議者焉. 嗚呼! 獨孤君之明且仁, 如遭孔子, 是有兩顏氏也. 今之世有知其然者 乎? 知之者其信於天下? 使夫人也夭而不嗣, 世之惑也, 又曰尚有天道, 嘻乎甚邪! . . . 嗚呼! 君短命, 行道之日未久, 故其道信於其友, 而未信於天下. 今記其 知君者于墓.26

As we have seen in other texts, praise for the character of “those whom one knows” was always implicitly self-praise. Here, though we have only a sketch of Dugu’s character, the qualities that Liu highlights (promotion of Confucius and his Way) and the list of “those who knew him” (zhijunzhe 知君者) that he appends make it clear that, first, Dugu held ideas that were coherent with a few of the reformist, “antiquity”-oriented young men of Dezong’s late reign, and second, Dugu’s talent must have been sufficiently luminous for so many of his peers to recognize it so publicly. The men included in Liu’s list of “friends,” who we assume were also donors for the stele, were men of considerable talent and promise, even if they were not senior officials. In another notable difference between the inscribed and the received version of the text, three of the men included in Liu’s version do not appear in the inscription.27 The text’s lack of biographical or political detail in comparison to its considerable ideological content is also remarkable. If indeed Dugu was punished for satirizing a princess’s misconduct in verse and was unfairly 26. Liu Zongyuan ji, 1:276–78. 27. Zhou Xiaowei, “Xin chutu,” proposes two possible scenarios to explain the difference: either these friends were late to the project and thus added by Liu to his version of the text, or the editor of Liu’s collection added them to the list (41).

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punished by Dezong for it—then perhaps died in some remote post—we can understand why Liu might wish to be circumspect in his defense of Dugu in 802, when Dezong was still on the throne. In the end, the epitaph reads far more like a manifesto for the group of signatories than a commemoration for a particular individual. It is equally noteworthy as a snapshot of a subset of literati in 802: here, men who would go on to split bitterly over the Shunzong debacle—Liu Zongyuan, Liu Yuxi, Lü Wen, and Han Tai were disgraced, while Cui Qun, Han Yu, Wang Yai, and Li Jingjian achieved later success—are unified in a Confucian defense of one man’s commitment to the Way. Without further evidence with which to contextualize this piece, we cannot say more about the relationships among the men gathered in support of Dugu Shenshu, but it is clear that their recognition of the deceased and willingness to be called zhizhe by Liu was intended not simply to defend the young man but also to convey their own convictions to others in the community.28 In a better-known example, the death of Meng Jiao in 814 at the age of sixty-three prompted a moving tribute from Han Yu in his epitaph for Meng, a text that also captures the kinds of support that friends provided upon death.29 The epitaph is perhaps most famous for Han’s description of Meng’s character and his poetry, of which Han said, “it pierces the eye and impales the heart” (gui mu shu xin 劌目鉥心). But it also illustrates the critical importance of the friendship circle; in his opening and closing, Han documents the diverse efforts of a range of people for Meng and his family. On the yihai day of the eighth month of the ninth year of the Yuanhe reign [September 12, 814], Master Pure Brilliance, of the Meng family, passed

28. Jo-shui Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, discusses the literati with whom Liu was affiliated in Dezong’s late reign, pointing to this text among others as evidence for Liu’s connections across different circles (56–59). 29. Reference to the epitaph appears first in the Tang zhi yan [see Tang zhi yan 唐 摭言, ed. Jiang Hanchun 姜漢椿 (Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue yuan chubanshe, 2002), 216]. Although Meng’s brief Jiu Tang shu biography does not cite the epitaph directly, it notes that Zheng Yuqing paid tens of thousands for the burial expenses and for the support of Meng’s family (160.4205). Meng’s XTS biographical note (appended to Han’s biography) credits Zhang Ji with giving Meng the posthumous title of “Master Pure Brilliance” (176.5265).

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away. He had no sons, and his wife, née Zheng, announced his death. I went quickly to wail and summoned Zhang Ji to wail with me. The following day we dispatched funds to the eastern capital [Luoyang] to pay for the funeral affairs, and many visitors came to wail and mourn at the Han household. Then we wrote a letter to inform the Xingyuan governor and former minister Zheng [Yuqing, who had recently obtained an appointment for Meng]. In the leap month following, Fan Zongshi’s envoy came to mourn, announce the date of burial, and request an epitaph from me.30 Wailing, I said, “Alas! Can I even bear to write an epitaph for my friend!” The governor of Xingyuan had sent funds for Meng’s funeral and furthermore came to provide for other matters for the family. Fan’s envoy came to speed the epitaph, saying, “If you do not [write it], then there will be no way to close up the darkness [of the tomb]!” And therefore I made a preface and epitaph for him. . . . . . . In the tenth month, Master Fan gathered all the presented funerary goods, and buried [Meng] on the eastern side of Luoyang to the left of his ancestor’s tomb, and took the resources that remained and presented them to his family for the sacrifices. As he was about to be buried, Zhang Ji said, “The Master upheld virtue and talent, illuminating the ancients. If worthy men are given different titles due to their achievements, then how much more should he [receive one]! Thus we should call him Master Pure Brilliance, so that there is a record of both his name and his conduct, and it will gleam brightly even without being spoken.” We all agreed it should be so, and thus we have used this name [here]. Earlier [in Meng’s life], an uncle of the Meng family [Meng Jian 孟簡 (d. 825)] had provided him with the means to study and from the post of secretary had risen to become inspector of Zhedong; he said, “In life, I was unable to raise him [to a post], yet in death, I know how to sympathize with his family.” The epitaph says: “Aie! Master Pure Brilliance! You were steadfast and never swayed; you went out into the world and never slandered others.31 30. As Han Yu notes in his letter to Zheng, Fan Zongshi was at that time posted to the court of the Crown Prince and was located in Luoyang, but he was in mourning for his own mother. Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:2093, n7. 31. Commentators disagree on the reading of the two lines 維執不猗, 維出不訾; the first appears to concern Meng’s character, but the second line, with its use of zi, which some read “slander” and others as “measure, assess,” does not seem to follow. See Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2034 for a summary of the various interpretations.

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five Up until death you were not recognized; yet through your poetry you shall endure.”

唐元和九年, 歲在甲午, 八月己亥, 貞曜先生孟氏卒. 無子, 其配鄭氏以告, 愈走位哭, 且召張籍會哭. 明日, 使以錢如東都供喪事. 諸嘗與往來者咸 來哭弔韓氏. 遂以書告興元尹故相餘慶. 閏月, 樊宗師使來弔, 告葬期, 徵 銘. 愈哭曰, 嗚呼! 吾尚忍銘吾友也夫! 興元人以幣如孟氏賻, 且來商家 事. 樊子使來速銘,曰, 不則無以掩諸幽. 乃序而銘之. . . . . . . 十月庚申, 樊子合凡贈賻而葬之洛陽東其先人墓左. 以餘財附其家 而供祀. 將葬, 張籍曰, 先生揭德振華, 於古有光. 賢者故事有易名, 況士 哉! 如曰貞曜先生, 則姓名字行有載, 不待講說而明. 皆曰, 然. 遂用之. 初, 先生所與俱學同姓簡, 於世次為叔父, 由給事中觀察浙東, 曰: 生吾 不能舉, 死吾知恤其家.

銘曰: 於戲貞曜 維執不猗 維出不訾 維卒不施 以昌其詩32 Several facts in Han’s account of the mourning and burial of Meng deserve comment. First, all of the chief mourners for Meng were, as Han calls them in his letter describing the funeral to Zheng Yuqing, “Meng’s closest friends” (Meng zhi shenyou 孟之深友), and they observed the proprieties carefully by coming immediately to wail for the dead, 33 summoning other people to do so, and attending to the essential duties.34 Second, the influential and wealthy Zheng, Meng’s patron 32. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2025–34; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:2090–2110. 33. One purpose of Han’s emphasis on the speed of their response may be to discursively conform to the ritual norm. Yan Zhitui’s Yanshi jiaxun notes, “In the South, if friends living in the same city do not go to condole with someone in deep mourning within three days, the friendship is severed. . . . Those who are prevented by long distance or other reason can send a letter.” Cited in Ebrey, “T’ang Guides to Verbal Etiquette,” 587. The degree to which this expectation lived on in Chinese funerary ritual can be seen in one study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century rites, Susan Naquin’s “Funerals in North China: Uniformity and Variation,” in Watson and Rawski, Death Ritual, 39–40. 34. For Han’s letter to Zheng, see Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:1986–87; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:1024–28.

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and distant relative by marriage, provided a significant sum to fund the funerary rites, burial, sacrifices, and the support of Meng’s widow and other survivors (though Meng died with no sons). Meng Jiao had served as a secretary to Zheng in the past and at the time of his death had been traveling to take up a new post with Zheng.35 In Han Yu’s letter to Zheng reporting on the disposition of the funds and the funerary matters, we learn that Zheng had supplied 270,000 in cash—an enormous sum for the impoverished family.36 Next, since Meng was not in a ranked office at the time of his death, and therefore did not remotely qualify for a canonization title bestowed by the state (normally given only to men of rank 3 or higher), his friends took it upon themselves to grant him one that suited his character.37 This unusual gesture not only expressed the men’s admiration and respect for their friend, but it was also an implied rebuke to the officials who never recognized Meng’s talent adequately.38 By giving Meng a title of honor and recording that honor in such detail in the epitaph, the group of friends publicly appropriated the power of the state in order to venerate Meng. Finally, the brief mention here of Meng Jian, 35. There were distant family ties here also: Meng’s wife was a Zheng, and Han’s own sister-in-law who raised him after his father’s death was also a Zheng. Han’s offering text for Madam Zheng (794) suggests that she truly acted as a mother to him; as the earliest extant offering text in his collection, it also shows signs of the plain style he came to prefer in offering texts for family and close friends. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1209–14; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1606–11. 36. To put the sum in perspective, an edict of 818 cited in Tang hui yao (91.1665) set the salary of a prefect (r. 5) at 150 strings a month, or 1,800,000 cash per year. Zheng’s gift represented almost two months’ salary of a prefect, which would have been extraordinary for a family whose head had never held even a post of any substance. According to data gathered by Ning Ke, a dou of rice in the 820s cost approximately 50 cash. Ning Ke 寧可, Zhongguo jingji tongshi: Sui Tang wudai jingji juan 中國經紀通史: 隋唐五代 經紀卷 (Beijing: Jingji ribao chubanshe, 2000), 509. 37. For the rules regarding the selection of posthumous titles and the writing of accounts of conduct, see Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 69–83. There were exceptions for men of merit at lower rank or even without posts, but they were infrequent. 38. Other examples of private canonization in the late eighth century can be found in the cases of Yuan Dexiu and Xiao Yingshi, who were given titles by their disciples. These cases are discussed in McMullen, State and Scholars, 50–51 and n158. As McMullen notes (269n49), the canonization of Du Fu was perhaps the most famous example. Beyond these examples, there was a system and precedents for awarding posthumous titles to those outside the official ranks; see McMullen, 20n49, citing, among others, examples from the Yuanhe reign period found in Tang hui yao 80.1488–89.

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a high-ranking official who seems to have aided Meng Jiao very little in his lifetime, also appears to be veiled criticism, an impression that is reinforced by Han’s mentions in his letter to Zheng of other relatives who were of little help with the funeral or with support for Meng’s family. The “closest friends” and Meng’s patron were, in the end, absolutely necessary to the process of completing the burial and preserving Meng’s name for posterity. There are other examples, such as Han Yu’s lament for his fellow 792 tongnian Ouyang Zhan39 and Bai Juyi’s 821 inscription for Li Jian,40 in which friendship and camaraderie loom large in the account of an individual’s life, but the two texts examined here are striking in the degree to which they showcase the assembly of friends who served as chief mourners, protectors of the family, and defenders of the deceased’s reputation. However, neither Liu Zongyuan nor Han Yu borrows the discourse of filiality or familial relations to describe his acts for the deceased. On the contrary, the rhetoric of friendship allows them to argue that the deceased and his friends were brought together through moral affinity and mutual understanding. These were commitments that arose from chosen relationships, not from kinship, a fact that defines the friends’ labor as humane and worthy. One’s attention to the obligations of friendship, detailed in the narratives of funerary texts, could thereby demonstrate moral conduct even after death. These texts served as strong platforms from which literati could not only defend their friends but also offer broader definitions of worth and integrity to others in the community.

39. See Nienhauser, “Literature as a Source for Traditional History.” In his lament, Han Yu refers to a biographical text by Li Ao about Ouyang Zhan that is no longer extant. See Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:1498, and Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1518, for notes on the disappearance of this text. 40. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:2676–82. As Bai carefully notes in his text, one person composed the account of conduct, Yuan Zhen wrote the entombed epitaph, and Bai composed a mubei, a supplemental stele inscription that would be erected outside the tomb rather than buried inside it, for Li. In it, Bai also sketches the emotions expressed by men of varying degrees of intimacy with Li: “On the day he passed, those who didn’t know him were regretful, those who were acquainted with him sighed, those who went about with him as companions wept tears, and those who were his fast friends were shaken with grief ” 薨之日, 不識者惜, 識者嘆, 交遊出涕, 執友慟. Bai also has a moving offering text for Li that is written in the joint voices of Yuan and Bai and celebrates the friendship of their “three hearts” (5:2666–69).

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Offering Texts and the Performance of Friendship The social and ideological gestures of mid-Tang funerary writing reveal literati awareness of the many functions of such texts, particularly in the context of friend relations. But the fact that offering texts were composed as scripts for a specific ritual performance intensified certain literary features of the form in comparison with other funerary genres.41 In extant Tang offering texts, the basic rhetorical conditions seem to have been that a mourner should directly address the spirit of the deceased and express both praise and grief. This performative aspect of offering texts seems to have been the most compelling feature of the genre to mid-Tang writers. In a manner similar to letters and poetic exchanges, offering texts derived their emotional impact and sense of authenticity from the rhetorical intimacy of direct communication. This rhetorical power shaped the writing of offering texts, and it also carried over into their reading. Because these addresses to the dead could convey the same kind of sincerity and emotional power that they sought in other literary forms, mid-Tang writers wanted to preserve and share offering texts with others. The ritual itself was predicated on the belief that communication could occur across the permeable boundary of the human and spirit worlds and, further, that ritual utterances made at spiritually potent moments in the funerary and burial process might affect the deceased’s spirit in the other world.42 Although we can only guess at the specifics of presenting offering texts in the Tang, they clearly were written in the voice of an individual mourner speaking to a spirit summoned and assumed to be present at the ritual.43 In his ritual manual composed in 41. In texts of the early medieval period, we find similar rhetorical demands in the genre of the elegy, or dirge (lei), which blended praise with mourning and often contained passages of direct address to the dead. By the Tang, the offering text seems to have replaced the elegy in terms of elite literary value and ritual function. For a summary of the formal and stylistic features of lei in the early medieval period, see Cutter, “Saying Goodbye,” 81–83. 42. For the implications of this belief in funerary ritual, see the essays in Watson and Rawski, Death Ritual. 43. We have many examples of offering texts in which the mourner regrets his being unable to present the offering in person. See, for example, Han Yu’s offering text for Zhang Shu, where he laments not being close to the coffin and presenting the ritual

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the Northern Song, Sima Guang describes the actions of the ritual but says little about the literary features of the prayer itself: “When a condoler entered, the mourners wailed; the condoler expressed his sympathy in formal language, then would move to the soul seat where he would make an offering of tea or wine and present an offering text, which might be burnt after being read.”44 With respect to the schedule of funerary and burial rites, we should note that the words of an offering text were meant to be uttered at an especially dangerous, liminal moment—after the departure of the celestial soul, the hun 魂 soul, from the body but before the actual disposal of the body, a time when the soul was not yet at rest.45 Even if the mourner was not able to present his offering by the coffin, as we know was often the case, the text was still composed with that spiritually acute moment in mind. Mourners concerned about the spiritual efficacy of an offering text therefore might choose language aimed at settling the soul of the deceased, so that it would not return to trouble the living.46 In this sensitive context, formal and conventional language would be the most appropriate and the safest, as we find in the majority of extant offering texts. At the same time, however, the mourner also hoped to convince the deceased of his sincere grief.

food himself, nor being able to care for Zhang’s sons, nor seeing the coffin off on its journey to the burial site (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3: 2192; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 2:1544–53). Such statements give us a sense of ritual expectations for presenting offering texts in person, though given the far-flung careers of Tang literati, these were probably not often observed. 44. Ebrey, Confucianism and Family Rituals in Imperial China: A Social History of Writing about Rites (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 85, citing Sima shi shuyi 9.55.57. We have no evidence for burning offering texts in the Tang, though this might have occurred. Sima Guang does not specify who would speak the words of the text, but many Tang texts, including two examined below, indicate the words of the text would be spoken by someone else dispatched to perform it. In Zhu Xi’s Jia li, which drew heavily on and revised Sima’s work, Zhu notes in his subcommentary that the liturgist would be the one to utter the words of the offering text, rather than the mourner. Ebrey, Chu Hsi’s Family Rituals (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 99. 45. The traditional belief was that humans possessed two souls, the celestial (hun 魂) soul and the earthly (po 魄) soul, that would separate upon death, the former flying away to a spiritual realm, the latter sinking to the earth with the corpse. 46. For a discussion of this kind of statement, see Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Ancestors and Anxiety: Death and the Birth of Rebirth in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 56–58. Bokenkamp draws on the work of Anna Seidel on funerary inscriptions found on Han-era tomb artifacts.

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Many of the details of daily etiquette and ritual behavior in the Tang fell outside the purview of state- or church-sponsored prescriptive texts, which makes them difficult to reconstruct with confidence. In the case of lesser but common rituals such as funerary offerings, conventions were most likely created through practice, circulated by imitation within communities, and only occasionally consolidated in models for circulation.47 We find a few extant models for these lesser rituals in the Dunhuang manuscripts of etiquette manuals, the shuyi 書儀; their fill-in-theblank models for offering texts average about fifty words in length, even shorter than the briefest literati versions found in the Quan Tang wen, which average 150 to 200 words.48 The etiquette manual examples are simple outlines, consisting of a brief statement of the identity of mourner and deceased, a few phrases of praise, and expressions of grief. But even longer literati offering texts show a remarkable structural and stylistic conservatism. As a rule, the offering text opens with a formal announcement of the identities of the deceased and the mourner, including titles and names (which were sometimes omitted in transmission). The mourner addresses the deceased in first person, denoted sometimes by the use of a first-person pronoun, such as wo 我 or wu 吾, and a second-person “you” pronoun, such as the informal zi 子, used for people identified as close friends, or even ru 汝, used for younger relatives, a more formal jun 君, or the most formal gong 公.49 In an offering text for a close friend, a 47. Medieval prescriptive texts like the Kaiyuan li were focused on state rituals and the ritual behavior of the imperial family, and they generally ignored popular practice except to censure it. Patricia Ebrey argues that in the medieval context, the ossification of ritual, noted in so many cultures, “coexisted with abandonment and hybridization,” whether or not that was recognized by Tang scholars in their discourse on ritual. Ebrey, Confucianism and Family Rituals, 43. 48. These manuscripts have been discussed in Ebrey, “T’ang Guides to Verbal Etiquette,” 581–613; for offering texts, see esp. 598 and 601. The models given are quite brief and are defined by specific sacrificial occasions or relationships. In P3637 and P2622, which have the most examples of offering texts for deceased people rather than spirits, there are no examples of offering texts for people who were not family members. 49. To give examples of these pronouns taken from Han Yu’s offering texts: Han Yu addresses his deceased nephew and most women as ru; his friends Hou Xi and Zhang Shu as zi; and Dong Jin, his patron who was slaughtered in a rebellion when he served as military governor of Bianzhou in 799, as gong. The use of gong could imply respect without denying intimacy, however, as in Bai Juyi’s offering text for Li Jian, where Bai calls Li gong but also calls to him several times by his style name, Biaozhi. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao,

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mourner might also use the deceased’s style name, even multiple times, as we see below. Most extant offering texts are composed of tetrametric couplets, in the traditional meter for elegies (lei) and other eulogistic genres; these couplets occur both rhymed and unrhymed, and are occasionally interspersed with pentametric or hexametric couplets. They tend to use a simple three-part structure consisting of praise of the deceased; some biographical remarks, which were usually quite vague; and a final expression of sorrow that sometimes included vows to the dead, such as the commitment to caring for the deceased’s family. The texts are usually punctuated at various intervals by phrases of lament, most commonly “Alas!” (wuhu 嗚呼), or “Alas, how grievous!” (wuhu aizai 嗚呼哀哉), and they conclude with the presentation of the offerings to the spirit, often with the two-word statement “I reverently [present this offering] for you to consume” (shang xiang 尚饗). The direct address of offering texts gives them a tone of strong certainty about the present (in praise of the deceased and statements about the mourner’s feelings) and a tone of uncertainty, even fearfulness, about the future (in statements about what will happen to the soul of the deceased, for example). To the extent that offering texts have narrative components—and many do not—they proceed in the same manner as biographical accounts, from past to present. Unlike more biographical funerary writings, however, which end with the subject’s death, offering texts often guess or make wishes about the spirit’s destiny after death, moving from the known past to the unknown future. As a result, both the sense of uncertainty and the emotional intensity tend to rise over the course of the text. Emphatic outcries of grief are uttered at the beginning, sometimes repeated in the body of the address as punctuation or paragraphing, and reiterated as the ritual concludes. Concern for the efficacy of the ritual often surfaces in statements about its inability to exhaust grief fully, and in apotropaic statements (such as “you are gone and will not return” or “our paths are irrevocably severed”) that seem aimed at pacifying the spirit and preventing its return.50 Occasionally a speaker will also reveal his beliefs about death

5:2676–82. More formal offering texts by other authors tend not to use first-person pronouns or the deceased’s style name. 50. Anxiety about the adequacy of ritual to convey feeling was of course an ancient concern, and was heightened in the context of death. As Xunzi noted of funerary ritual,

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and the fate of souls after death. In Liu Zongyuan’s offering text for Lü Wen, Liu reveals his skepticism about Heaven and the supernatural; in Bai Juyi’s text for Yuan Zhen, Bai wishes devoutly that their future reincarnations might occur together so that the two friends can relive their bond. But all such thoughts are offered tentatively, and often in the form of questions. As the text and ritual draw to a close, and the mourner moves closer to the fact of the death—even speaking of touching the coffin in some manner at the end—the mourner’s voice shifts inevitably to the optative mood. This indicates the speaker’s vulnerability and fear in the face of death, evoking in turn empathy on the part of the listener or reader. In the following texts, we find three very different depictions of friendship and the duties of friends after death. The utterance of grief to the spirit of the deceased became the starting place for reaching diverse audiences. Liu Zongyuan speaks to his era and to the men who failed to recognize Lü Wen’s worth; Liu Yuxi addresses Liu Zongyuan and the circle of companions implicated in the responsibilities after his death; Bai Juyi reenacts decades of exchange with Yuan Zhen both to honor Yuan and to benefit readers to come. All three reject conventional formulae and express their feelings with precision and passion, and at great length. The rhetorical framework of speaking to the dead friend gives conviction both to the intense emotions that would be expected of a mourner at this painful moment and also to his ideas. The first two texts share some important features: they both ask repeated questions of the dead, particularly regarding the possibility of communication between dead and living, and they summon the community of friends to the deceased in the text. Bai Juyi, on the other hand, narrows the space to the close dyadic relationship he shared with Yuan and excludes all but the two of them from view. And unlike Liu Zongyuan or Liu Yuxi, Bai Juyi seems to achieve a sense of finality and completion in his text; in his case, the ritual offers solace and reassurance as well as a chance to mourn. When we read Liu Zongyuan’s offering text for his longtime friend and fellow Shunzong official Lü Wen, we are surprised at first to find Liu

“Because there is only one opportunity to treat the dead in the proper way, and it can never be repeated, the minister’s demonstration of highest respect for his ruler and the son’s expression of the greatest honor for his parents must be fully conveyed on this last occasion.” Knoblock, Xunzi, vol. 1, 63.

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attacking the very Heaven he claimed not to believe in and speculating on the possible spiritual and physical transformations of his friend. Lü Wen died in 811, while serving as prefect of Hengzhou.51 In the year of Lü Wen’s death, Liu Zongyuan was still in Yongzhou, where he had been since late 805 and would remain until 815. We should not underestimate the political challenge of expressing grief for a fellow guilty official during the reign of the still-unrelenting Xianzong. Liu’s silence on the specifics of the Shunzong debacle is understandable, and in the context of the offering text (as opposed to an entombed epitaph), it is also unsurprising; while some delicate reference to those events might be necessary to meet the conventions of the biographical narrative, which were common in epitaphs, offering texts allowed the writer more freedom to express his personal feelings. Liu’s desire to reinterpret the meaning of Lü’s life from his own perspective seems equally natural.52 Of the texts that Liu Zongyuan wrote about Lü after his death, this offering text is by far the most emotional, and among Liu’s twenty-four extant offering texts, this is the longest and the most varied in structure and style. In the text, Liu focuses his despair on two facts of Lü Wen’s life: his early death (he was thirty-nine) and his qualities that were not “known” in the world. Liu’s view of the Way was decidedly humanistic and secular, and he often attacked views of Heaven that seemed to him superstitious and irrational, rejecting most vehemently the notion that Heaven could directly influence human affairs. Liu was also deeply skeptical about the efficacy of ritual in the public sphere. But, as Jo-shui Chen argues, Liu Zongyuan seems to have had a different perspective of personal ritual: “[Liu] asserted that only in the observance of rites and established norms could one carry out one’s ethical obligations.”53 In his offering text for Lü 51. See JTS 137.3769–70. Jo-shui Chen translates parts of this offering text and discusses it briefly (163–65). 52. There is no extant entombed epitaph for Lü. As noted above, Liu Zongyuan composed a dirge for Lü, along with poems grieving Lü sent to their mutual friend Liu Yuxi; Huangfu Shi also has an offering text for Lü extant. In the Song anecdotal text Tang yu lin 唐語林 we find a curious entry (of unknown source) stating that the Lü clan never had anyone outside the family write a funerary biography (beizhi 碑誌), but rather they would always be written by the sons or grandsons. Tang yu lin jiao zheng 唐語林校證, comp. Wang Dang 王黨, ed. and annot. Zhou Yinchu 周勛初 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987), 147. 53. Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 116.

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Wen, Liu Zongyuan had to balance these different imperatives, fulfilling his ritual and personal obligation to his friend while maintaining his views on the influence of spirits and Heaven on human life. The text proceeds in five stages, each one introduced by an exclamation of grief or a statement of personal feeling, a common paragraphing device found in offering texts. However, rather than using the same formal phrase, such as the conventional wuhu aizai (which he uses consistently in his other extant offering texts), Liu alters and personalizes his exclamation each time in order to signal a change of topic. In the opening section, Liu cries, “Alas, Heaven!” 嗚呼天于, and then raises the problem of Heaven’s response to human virtue; in the final section, which is directly addressed to Lü Wen, Liu calls out his style name, “Alas, Huaguang!” 嗚呼化光. The progression of Liu’s text is also unusual: rather than beginning in grief or praise, Liu Zongyuan begins in bitterness and anger. In the middle sections of the offering text, Liu praises Lü Wen in elevated but unspecific terms, using terms of praise similar to those found in the dirge and the stele text for Lü. In the penultimate passage, Liu Zongyuan shifts from praise of Lü Wen the individual to mourning for the fate of their circle and their Dao. He concludes with a lyrical series of questions about the possible fates of Lü Wen’s spirit, but this imaginative flight too ends in despair. The question of first-person address is also complicated in this text: Liu refers to Lü Wen in the third person for two-thirds of the text, and only addresses him by name directly in the final section, where, ironically, he questions the very possibility of being heard by Lü’s spirit. In the first four sections of the text, Liu alternates crafted, parallelistic and metrically regular lines (largely tetrametric) with looser, brief passages of prose for transitions. But as the text comes to its wild conclusion, he moves to longer, irregular lines, a cascade of rhetorical questions, and unrhymed prose. This structural and linguistic transformation over the course of the text evokes the progressive loss of control on the part of the speaker. Liu opens with a strong, almost sarcastic assertion of knowledge about Heaven, but by the end he confesses his ignorance and his pain in the face of that ignorance. In the sixth year of the Yuanhe reign era, the xinmao year [811], on the first day, guisi of the ninth month [September 22], I, the Marshal of Yongzhou,

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also appointed Supplementary Official, Lü’s friend Liu Zongyuan, respectfully dispatch my clerk Tongcao and my relative Nang’er to present the pure libation and delicacies of the offering in reverent sacrifice to the spirit of Lü Eighth, “elder brother,” Huaguang:54 Alas, alas, Heaven! What evil had the gentleman done that Heaven so despised him? What crime did he commit against the people that Heaven should set itself against him? He was penetrating and brilliant, correct and upright, and in his conduct he was a gentleman; then Heaven was certain to hasten his death. In his following of the Way and his virtue, his ambition was to preserve the people; thus Heaven was certain to destroy his person too soon. I know unshakably azure Heaven’s untrustworthiness and the great void’s lack of numinous power; now, faced with Huaguang’s demise, my resentment is ever deeper, and the poison grows ever stronger. This is why I cry again and again to Heaven as I have done here. 維元和六年, 歲次辛卯, 九月癸巳朔某日, 友人守永州司馬員外置同正員 柳宗元, 謹遣書吏同曹, 家人襄兒, 奉清酌庶羞之奠, 敬祭於呂八兄化光 之靈. 嗚呼天乎! 君子何厲? 天實仇之. 生人何罪? 天實讎之. 聰明正直, 行 為君子, 天則必速其死. 道德仁義, 志存生人, 天則必夭其身. 吾固知蒼 蒼之無信, 莫莫之無神, 今於化光之歿, 怨逾深而毒逾甚, 故復呼天以 云云.

At first, Liu Zongyuan sounds like no one so much as Han Yu in this passage: he not only anthropomorphizes Heaven but then charges Heaven with the deliberate, vengeful destruction of a good man. But Liu’s satirical intent is revealed by his subsequent claim to know all about “azure Heaven’s untrustworthiness.” His use of cangcang for Heaven, an old epithet often found in plaints against one’s fate, begins to depersonalize Heaven, and he continues this in the next line, replacing “Heaven” with “the great void.”55 The underlying dilemma for Liu is “to know unshakably” on a personal level. Unlike his discussions of Heaven in more neutral contexts, in the offering text for his dead friend, Liu must

54. Lü Wen was a distant cousin by marriage. 55. The use of the term cangcang in the “Free and Easy Wandering” (“Xiaoyao you” 逍遙遊) chapter of the Zhuangzi resonates here, as part of a question about the knowability of Heaven: “Is the azure of Heaven its true color, or is it just that it is so far away?” 天之蒼蒼, 其正色邪? 其遠而無所至極邪? (Zhuangzi jiaoquan, 1:6).

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wrestle with a situation in which his skepticism and knowledge are not merely useless but seem to worsen his grief.56 If in fact there are no spiritual powers or deities (shen) in the “great void” into which Lü Wen has presumably vanished, Liu Zongyuan’s resentment and its poison have no way to be alleviated. Liu returns to this plight at the opening of the next section, with a cry of “Ah, Heaven, how painful!” 天乎痛哉. He then offers the expected words of praise for Lü Wen’s excellence, his following of the Way, and his mastery of the arts. This grandiose preface is needed to explain the tragedy of Lü’s life—and, by extension, the tragedy of the entire group of men punished after 805. “Yet his office was only that of a prefect in two districts, and his years did not exceed forty. Though he had the intention to serve his ruler, he perished without attaining his place” 而官止刺一州, 年不逾四十, 佐王之志, 沒而不立.57 Liu does not waver in the accusation that his comrade was deeply wronged by being punished: “Is this not indeed a case of cultivating rectitude and uprightness only to cause oneself disaster? Of loving humaneness and rightness only to hasten misfortune?” 豈非修正直以召災, 好仁義以速 咎者耶? Liu’s ironic reversal of the standards of right and wrong reaches its bleak climax in the middle of the third section. “Since the greedy and foolish are all ennobled, the narrow and limited all live to old age, then is not Huaguang’s young death instead his glorious reward?” 貪愚皆貴, 險限皆老, 則化光之夭厄, 反不榮歟? But Liu cannot sustain this bitter tone for long; he turns away to lament the loss of Lü Wen as a leader to the common people, a theme he develops also in his dirge. Liu next inserts himself into the narrative of Lü’s destiny, and he 56. See, for example, Liu’s Tian shuo (Liu Zongyuan ji, 2:442–43). Liu’s position there is very clear: “Those who expect reward or punishment [from Heaven] are in error. . . . One should just believe in humaneness and righteousness, wander in the world according to these principles, and live this way until your death.” Translation after Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 112, with modifications. 57. The two prefects in which Lü Wen served were Daozhou and Hengzhou, both of which were close to Yongzhou. In his dirge for Lü, Liu dwells on his good governance of the people there, claiming that the sound of their weeping at Lü’s death could be heard across the rivers for weeks on end. This same theme of the demoted official who manifests his virtue among the people—and thereby redeems himself from earlier failings—was taken up by Han Yu in his entombed epitaph for Liu Zongyuan. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:2391–2403; Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji, 1:773–86.

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launches into an elegy for the principles of the group of men punished after the Shunzong reign. Though all-within-the-seas is broad and wide, how many were there who “knew the tone”?58 Since my companions and friends have withered and perished, their ambitions and works have almost been cut off from the world. I hoped only that Huaguang might extend his mighty plans, that his thundering brilliance might expand and flourish in our time, so that this person from among us might make known what we established [as our principles]. But now that he too has gone on, our Way has ended! Though there are some who survive, our ambitions too have died. Looking out on the river, I wail loudly—all things have come to an end! That your flowering talent that comprehended Heaven, your wisdom that drew from antiquity, that all this should be gone from us in a morning—in the end, whom shall we follow? 海內甚廣, 知音幾人? 自友朋凋喪, 志業殆絕, 唯望化光伸其宏略, 震耀 昌大, 興行於時, 使斯人徒, 知我所立. 今復往矣, 吾道息矣. 雖其存者, 志亦死矣. 臨江大哭, 萬事已矣. 窮天之英, 貫古之識, 一朝去此, 終復何 適?

Jo-shui Chen has suggested that Liu identified deeply with Lü, and that the death of his hopes for Lü described in this passage mirror Liu’s own sense of failure.59 But beyond mere identification, Liu ceases to portray Lü Wen as an individual over the course of the text. This passage marks the shift from lamenting the person Lü Wen to grieving for the failure of the group’s collective ambitions. The repeated use of the perfective particle yi 矣, the claim of the “death” of all hope and ambition, and the references to the group in “what we accomplished,” and “our Way” expose Liu’s belief that their collective hope had been utterly extinguished. If we compare Liu’s representation of Lü here with the descriptions found in the dirge for Lü, which focus on specific events of his life, Liu’s use of this offering text to defend their Way is even more apparent.60 58. The first half of the sentence alludes to Analects 12.5, referring to “brothers” (xiongdi), and yet Liu shifts its meaning to indicate friendship instead. Liu’s use of zhiyin here is obviously connected to friendship rather than music. 59. Chen, Liu Tsung-yüan, 165. 60. Liu Zongyuan ji, 1:216–18.

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The transformation of Lü into a symbol of a cohort culminates lyrically in Liu’s conclusion. Alas, Huaguang! What now will you become? Will you stop or continue on? Will you darken or glow bright? Might you float about in the great void with the endless transformation [of nature]? Will you instead form into gleaming brilliance to aid [sun and moon] in their radiant presence? Or might you become rain or dew and moisten the earth below? Will you instead become thunder and lightning to scatter your resentment and anger? Might you become phoenix or unicorn, or gleaming star or auspicious cloud, in which you could harbor your spirit? Will you instead become gold or tin, or a jade tablet or plaque in which you could lodge your po-soul?61 Might you again become a worthy man, to carry on your ambition? Or will you rise up in numinous brilliance to continue in your righteousness? If not thus, how will your bright promise be realized—yet how could it not be realized? Will you perhaps have awareness, or be without awareness? But if you are aware, how could you make me aware of it? Before the great obscurity of dark and light, my heart breaks in a stab of pain. Alas, Huaguang! May you somehow hear [these words]. 嗚呼化光! 今復何為乎? 止乎行乎, 昧乎明乎? 豈蕩為太空與化無窮乎? 將結為光耀以助臨照乎? 豈為雨為露以澤下土乎? 將為雷為霆以泄怨怒 乎? 豈為鳳為麟為景星為卿雲以寓其神乎? 將為金為錫, 為圭為壁以栖 其魄乎? 豈復為賢人以續其志乎? 將奮為神明以遂其義乎? 不然, 是昭昭 者其得已乎, 其不得已乎? 抑有知乎,其無知乎? 彼且有知, 其可使吾知之 乎? 幽明茫然, 一慟腸絕. 嗚呼化光! 庶或聽之. 62

As he has not yet to this point, here Liu Zongyuan directly calls to Lü Wen by his style name and poses questions about what is to come. This impassioned series of questions about metamorphoses after death echoes Zhuangzi, in the story of Master Yu, who imagines his own transformations after death instigated by the “Maker of Things” (zaowuzhe 61. This is the one place in the text where Liu uses a standard term for soul, in this case an earth-soul (po 魄), which he imagines being lodged in earthly, dense objects such as gold, lead, and jade. But the text gives shen rather than the term hun 魂 in the parallel spot in the preceding line about celestial phenomena, appropriate lodging for a hun soul. 62. Liu Zongyuan ji, 3:1052–55.

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造物者).63 The effect of the repeated long phrases introduced by qi and jiang makes the possible changes seem equal, as in the Zhuangzi’s formulation; the flow of noun phrases tumbling one upon another gives the passage a fluidity lacking in the more balanced and solemn tetrametric lines of earlier sections. And yet unlike Master Yu’s fanciful “rat’s liver and “fly’s leg,” the transformations Liu imagines for Lü Wen are neither trivial nor morally neutral, but include potent and traditional Confucian symbols of virtue, such as celestial radiance, dew that “moistens” the earth, the phoenix and the unicorn, jade tablets, and auspicious celestial phenomena. Liu’s particular attention to images of light here and earlier in the text suggests that he is punning on Lü Wen’s style name, Huaguang, “transform into brilliance.” Liu even supposes a reincarnation for Lü as once again a Confucian “worthy” (xianren 賢人), in a future life. As the possibilities pile up, they seem increasingly fantastical and less and less likely to occur. Liu ends by asking, “If not thus, how will your bright [promise] be realized?” But this question has already been answered in the negative throughout the offering text; moreover, there are no answers forthcoming to Liu Zongyuan’s questions about knowledge of the world beyond. Even if Lü Wen comes to know of his future destiny, Liu suggests that there is no way to communicate across the boundary of death: “how could you make me aware of it?” Liu follows his skepticism about the world of the spirits to its despairing but logical conclusion. Since he can know nothing of the “great obscurity of dark and light,” which is to say both the world he claims to know and the realm of the spirits that he denies, Liu Zongyuan is left with only the pain of loss. Liu’s final utterance, “May you hear these words,” is overtly addressed to Lü Wen’s spirit but is also meant to be heard by the living men who punished them all. The irony at the heart of this text is striking: despite Liu Zongyuan’s disbelief in the supernatural, he was compelled to write a passionate, highly crafted offering text for Lü Wen, much of which challenges the efficacy of the ritual as a spiritual exercise. However, Liu’s words strongly affirm his belief in the power of the offering text as a social, ideological, and literary performance. Lü Wen may not have been able 63. Zhuangzi jiaoquan, 1:241–42.

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to manifest his “brilliance” in his age, but Liu Zongyuan can speak for him and for them all, and act as the foil to the straw Heaven he describes in the opening. Here, the ostensibly private space of mourning beside the dead friend’s coffin becomes a site for inscribing the larger community of companions who were loyal to Lü. Liu Zongyuan’s preference for the offering text as a personal means to praise the deceased is borne out by his many extant examples in the genre. This may have been to some degree a default choice: since he lived out his life in the obscurity of provincial office, Liu would not have been asked to write the more politically weighty funerary documents for deceased friends or former colleagues, nor would he have been sought out often for supplementary inscriptions.64 We should not assume, however, that all mid-Tang literati who composed offering texts shared Liu’s skepticism about the ritual efficacy of the practice, even within his own circle. When Liu Zongyuan died in 819, at least four of his companions addressed his spirit in offering texts, and they expressed deep concern that Liu’s spirit should hear and be comforted by their words. Liu had spoken at great length and passionately about Lü Wen as an emblem of shared values; but at his death, his friend Liu Yuxi, yet another victim of the post-Shunzong demotions, chose instead to write not one but two offering texts that focused on the immediate impact losing Liu had on him and other members of their circle. By 819, both men had seen their hopes of returning to the capital vanish almost entirely (although Liu Yuxi was finally recalled in 827, under the emperor Wenzong). This sense of shared failure haunts the offering texts Liu Yuxi wrote for Liu Zongyuan. However, rather than writing their collective story through his friend’s life, as Liu Zongyuan did with Lü Wen’s offering text, Liu Yuxi expresses a personal grief that will be echoed and then ritually attended to by their circle. As Liu Yuxi tells us in this text, events overtook him in a startling way: while proceeding north to bury his mother, who had died not long

64. On this point, see Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 69–70, for the rank required of composers of accounts of conduct; in the case of entombed epitaphs, the choice of a writer was not regulated by the government but rather by family wishes and literati opinion.

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before, he heard the news of Liu Zongyuan’s death.65 Liu Yuxi dramatizes the shock of this doubled grief in the text. Since he is unable to visit Liu Zongyuan’s coffin himself, he must send a messenger to present the offering text; perhaps as a consequence of this distance, Liu Yuxi repeatedly expresses his fear about not being “heard” by Liu Zongyuan. Over the course of the text, however, Liu Yuxi appears to use the recitation of the ritual duties—what is to be done and who among their friends will perform each task—as a way to gain control over the turbulent feelings he confesses to at the outset. More remarkable in Liu Yuxi’s text is his account of the textual economy of death in ninth-century China, which underscores the absolute necessity, especially in cases such as Liu Zongyuan’s, of commemorating a life from many different perspectives and ritual compositions. In a systematic fashion, Liu Yuxi goes down the list of texts that had been and would need to be written, including the deathbed letter (will) of Liu Zongyuan, the fushu 訃書, the notice of Liu Zongyuan’s death, the notification letters that Liu Yuxi must write to each friend in their circle, the entombed epitaph that Han Yu will compose, and the many other offering texts to be written.66 Liu’s awareness of the role of texts is paralleled by his consciousness of his own actions, from the motions of his feelings and body, to his composition of the text at hand, to his performance of the final farewell. But in contrast to his attention to ritual and personal matters, Liu Yuxi slights other expectations of the genre, most notably in his minimal praise of Liu Zongyuan. Rather than giving us a eulogistic portrait of Liu Zongyuan’s life, this offering text depicts Liu Yuxi responding to Liu Zongyuan’s death. In terms of form, Liu Yuxi shifts between rhymed and unrhymed tetrametric lines with a poet’s grace, avoiding the parataxis of much tetrametric medieval verse; the language of the text is neither laden with stale figures nor pointedly allusive, but syntactically

65. For the text and Qu Tuiyuan’s reconstructed chronology of the events surrounding it, see Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1528–31. 66. There are five offering texts for Liu Zongyuan extant: two by Liu Yuxi, one composed by Liu Yuxi on behalf of Li Cheng (Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1535–38), one by Cui Qun (cited in Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1534, who also remarks on its stylistic resemblance to Liu Yuxi’s compositions), and one by Han Yu (Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 3:2330–33).

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direct and fluid.67 Liu begins and concludes the text with his central theme—the fear that his communication will not be heard. By calling Liu Zongyuan three times by his style name, Zihou 子厚, by referring to men of their circle also by their style names, and by repeating his call for Liu’s hun-soul to attend his words, Liu Yuxi reveals his personal sense of urgency in communicating with his dead friend, whom he calls precisely that (wangyou), and situates the entire performance within their distant circle of knowers (zhiyin). In the fifteenth year of the Yuanhe reign period, in the gengzi year [820], the first day of the first month [January 19], this orphan child68 Liu Yuxi, harboring his grief and summoning his strength, respectfully dispatches the messenger Huang Mengchang to reverently offer sacrificial delicacies and a pure libation to his departed friend Master Liu’s spirit: Alas, alas, Zihou! I have but this one utterance, yet will you hear it or not? In days gone by, you were penetrating and brilliant above all others; now though you have transformed and departed, can there be no material things left of you? I think that what has died with your death is your form and substance alone. But what has your hun-soul and your qi to rely on? Attend to my words of lament. Alas, how painful! 維元和十五年歲次庚子正月戊戌朔日, 孤子劉禹錫銜哀扶力, 謹遺所使 黃孟萇具清酌庶羞之奠敬祭於亡友柳君之靈. 嗚呼子厚, 我有一言, 君其聞否! 惟君平昔, 聰明絕人, 今雖化去, 夫豈 無物? 意君所死, 乃形質耳. 魂氣何託? 聽予哀詞. 嗚呼痛哉!

Liu Yuxi wastes little time in conventional praise, but immediately summons Liu Zongyuan’s now-dematerialized hun-soul. His “utterance,” which is to say the performance of the offering text, is offered as assurance for Liu’s disembodied spirit, something on which the spirit can rely. Liu Yuxi promises him, here and in the next passages, that all the important affairs of the material world will be taken care of. The opening passage captures the simultaneous necessity and difficulty of communication in the face of death. The following passages then detail the necessary com67. Qu Tuiyuan comments on the unusually direct quality of the offering text and ascribes it to the feeling of friendship between the two men (Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1531). 68. Liu Yuxi refers to himself this way due to the recent death of his mother.

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munication about death among the living. Liu Yuxi heightens the dramatic impact of Liu Zongyuan’s death by giving us the terrible moment of coincidence: while accompanying his mother’s coffin north for burial, he was stopped in Hengyang when he heard there was a messenger from Liu Zongyuan, perhaps bearing an offering text for his mother or other message from him. But instead the messenger brought the notice of Liu Zongyuan’s death. Liu Yuxi recreates his shock in the text: Startled, I cried aloud, as if I had been taken by madness. For the longest time, I kept asking why, as a hundred griefs attacked me within. Tears and mucus poured down, and my hun- and po-souls shuddered in shock. Perusing the papers to the very end, I found your testamentary letter. With a sound of broken strings, the shrill sorrow pierced my bones. At the beginning [of the text] you entrusted me with your children, knowing they would not be left all alone; at the end you spoke of “returning” in your funerary carriage, to be buried with your ancestors in their land. For all these many tasks, you laid the duty on me and on our companions. But those who had forever spoken of pure friendship were all locked away in many distant places. 驚號大叫, 如得狂病. 良久問故, 百哀攻中. 涕洟迸落, 魂魄震越. 伸紙窮 竟, 得君遺書. 絕絃之音, 悽愴徹骨. 初託遺嗣, 知其不孤. 末言歸輤, 從 祔先域. 凡此數事, 職在吾徒. 永言素交, 索居多遠.

Liu Yuxi reenacts the moment of learning about Liu Zongyuan’s death by mirroring it in his own body: at the news, he is rendered speechless, and his two souls shudder and tremble responsively, as if on the verge of death himself. The text of Zongyuan’s final testament allows Yuxi to voice his dead friend’s wishes in the offering, and serves as a vow: it communicates to everyone (including Liu Zongyuan’s spirit) the receipt of the will and affirms Yuxi’s intent to do all that is asked of him, along with the other companions. Liu Yuxi follows this powerful scene of hearing the news with a passage (not cited here) that lists each friend to be notified and his respective task (Li Cheng, Han Yu, who was to write the entombed epitaph, Han Tai, and Han Ye). As he parcels out duties, Liu Yuxi reminds them all of the role of friends after death: “The Way of friendship survives to the end, and must indeed grow even stronger” 友道尚終, 當必加厚. He extends the theme of the responsibility of friends—whether old or new—in the following section.

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Alas, alas, Zihou! What is to be done about this? That friends and comrades should wither and fall is something mourned since antiquity. I had not anticipated uttering [the offering text], yet now I speak it for you. Ever since you were disappointed in life, you have been hidden away in a distant region. Yet recently you encountered a scholar of the state who had thought to aid you with his stature. 嗚呼子厚! 此是何事? 朋友凋落, 從古所悲. 不圖此言, 乃為君發. 自君失 意, 沉伏遠郡. 近遇國士, 方伸眉頭.

Just as Han Yu gave a prominent place to Zheng Yuqing, Meng Jiao’s benefactor, Liu Yuxi momentarily opens the circle of friends enumerated in the text to mention and thereby thank a late-life patron of Liu Zongyuan, Pei Xingli 裴行立, a censor posted to Guilin. Pei’s role in financing Liu Zongyuan’s journey north for burial is reconfirmed by Han Yu in his entombed epitaph.69 Liu Yuxi describes the acquaintance between the patron and his prospective client and delicately attributes Pei’s funding of the funerary arrangements to his respect for the deceased writer and to his sympathy for Liu Yuxi, who was still in mourning. Liu Yuxi concludes the text by performing his own personal mourning for Liu Zongyuan, giving him an account of his actions from far away. As the day comes to a close, I go to the secondary residence. To the south I gaze towards the Gui river,70 wailing for my old friend. Who can speak of “grass that has grown tall” [on the graves of friends]?71 Will this pain ever reach its end? 朝晡臨後, 出就別次. 南望桂水, 哭我故人. 孰云宿草 ? 此慟何極?

69. Han gives Pei’s name and title when he bluntly acknowledges his financial support; here, Liu Yuxi is more oblique and complimentary. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1532–33. 70. Liu Yuxi was posted to Lianzhou from 815 to 820, but from this and other references, Qu concludes that he remained in Hengyang until early spring, when he continued north for his mother’s burial. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, “Liu Yuxi ji zhuan,” 3:1574. 71. Referring to the first chapter of “Tan gong” in the Li ji: “Though there be grass grown tall on the graves of friends, yet one will not wail” 朋友之墓有宿草而不哭焉. The implication is that mourning for friends lasts an appropriate time, but once the grass has sprouted, the mourning should end. Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), vol. 14, 235. Cf. note 41 on p. 44 in this book.

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Liu Yuxi’s performance of the final farewell to Liu Zongyuan’s body here signals the beginning of the conclusion to the ritual; after confronting the physical fact of death, represented by the body in the coffin, the mourner must acknowledge its spiritual reality. Liu Yuxi concludes with statements about Liu Zongyuan’s death that acknowledge and warn simultaneously, so that Liu’s soul will be aware of Liu Yuxi’s feelings and yet also know its own death in this world. Alas, alas, Zihou! You, sir, have truly died. To the end of this life of mine, there will never be another meeting with you . . . If you do not hear these words, my heart will not be ordered and at rest. Filled with sorrow’s sting, I grasp the brush; wanting to tell all and yet halted in mid-course. I swear to treat Zhou Liu [Liu Zongyuan’s son] the same as my own son.72 Soul, ah, come hither—may you know my deepest intent. Alas, alas, Zihou! May you consume this offering. 嗚呼子厚! 卿真死矣. 終我此生, 無相見矣 . . . 子之不聞, 予心不理. 含 酸執筆, 輒復中止. 誓使周六, 同於己子. 魂兮來思, 知我深旨. 嗚呼子厚! 尚饗. 73

This is an extraordinarily full, even a busy, text, one that seeks to do many things all at once for different people. Liu Yuxi carefully documents the tasks of the community at a death, manifesting the appropriate sorrow and despair by noting his performance of those actions in his narrative. He hears the news, dispatches notices, waves a final farewell on the road, and composes this text to be performed by a representative. He even thanks Liu’s patron indirectly for funding the journey north for Zongyuan’s burial. And yet unlike Liu Zongyuan in his offering text for Lü Wen, Liu Yuxi never broadens his rhetorical perspective beyond the close circle. Where Liu Zongyuan defended the loss of Lü Wen and his values as a loss for their age, Liu Yuxi seems consumed by the immediate shock of death and its aftermath. This narrower perspective, combined with the text’s simplicity, detail, and direct appeals to Liu Zongyuan’s

72. Liu Zongyuan had two sons, one of whom was born some months after his death (Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1530–31). Liu Yuxi’s responsibility for the children is confirmed by Han Yu in the entombed epitaph. 73. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1528–31.

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spirit, conveys a very personal sense of bereavement. Liu Yuxi’s strong voice, expressed syntactically by his firm control over the tetrametric line and stylistically by his frequent use of pronouns and expressions of emotion, compels the listener or reader at each point in the narrative. Liu Yuxi’s constant reiteration of his own feelings and actions creates a sense of intimacy that Liu Zongyuan’s text for Lü Wen lacked. There is still curiously little praise of Liu Zongyuan in this text of mourning, however. We might wonder if this stems from Liu Yuxi’s own political vulnerability—in 819, he was hoping to be recalled sooner rather than later from the far south—or from his sense of generic propriety, yielding to Han Yu’s biographical account in the entombed epitaph, or simply because he was, as he suggests, unable to say all that he wished. This sense of mission unachieved is perhaps what led Liu Yuxi to write a second offering text for Liu eight months later.74 In that text, which adopts the tone of a follow-up letter, Liu Yuxi speaks a few lines more about Liu Zongyuan’s talent, but he seems more concerned to provide additional detail about who has performed what ritual duties in the interim. His anxiety about having Liu Zongyuan hear him is expressed even more strongly in the second text, which should not be surprising, given that his friend has been dead almost a year. Although he opens by focusing only on the relationship between Zongyuan and himself, Liu Yuxi again summons the circle of friends in his offering, assuring Zongyuan’s spirit that everyone fulfilled their responsibilities as they were tasked. Even in this second offering text, however, Liu Yuxi suggests that he still has not exhausted his grief, concluding with, “How can I speak my farewell? I call aloud with repeated cries. I will hope for yet another day to fully tell my grief and sincerity” 何以言別? 長號數聲. 冀乎異日, 展我哀誠.75 The urgency to express one’s feelings toward the dead that Liu Yuxi’s offering text conveys is echoed in the offering text composed by Bai Juyi for Yuan Zhen in 831. But while Liu Yuxi required a second attempt to articulate his feelings fully, Bai Juyi instead tried to make his single text 74. I have found only one other instance of two offering texts for a single person in the Quan Tang wen, by Liu Zhangqing 劉長卿 (QTW 346.16a–17b). Of those two texts, Liu’s second piece is more personal and focuses on the relationship between the deceased and himself. 75. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, 3:1531–33.

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exhaustive, by writing with much detail, emotion, and at great length. (It is one of the longest offering texts extant in the Quan Tang wen.) Yuan’s death challenged Bai Juyi with an entirely new task: to communicate, one last time, the depth and sincerity of his feelings about Yuan Zhen in the context of a separation that was both familiar and eternal. With respect to the balance between collective history and individual loss, Bai Juyi’s offering text seems to fall somewhere between Liu Zongyuan’s and Liu Yuxi’s. Bai celebrates his and Yuan’s shared reputation as poets and friends, and he laments the passing of their youthful glory—thus clearly speaking to the literati community and to posterity—but he also strives to speak directly to Yuan Zhen at many places in the text, and expresses his feeling of loss in very specific and individual ways. In contrast to the circle of friends invoked by Liu Zongyuan and enumerated by Liu Yuxi in their texts, Bai Juyi speaks only to Yuan, in the manner of many other texts he had written to him, within the narrow confines of their dyadic relationship. Bai Juyi ignores the conventions that are not useful to him, choosing instead to continue to write as the two men had written to each other all their lives, with mutual exaggerated praise, sentimental expressions of affection, poem exchanges, and vows of eternal fidelity. To encompass these many styles, Bai modulates his tone and form with each major section of the text. The opening section offers formal praise for Yuan and his achievements in solemn tetrametric couplets with some parallel prose transitions; the second segment moves into a discussion of their friendship and the “900” poems that they exchanged over the years. The third section describes the scene of their final parting and includes two heptametric quatrains that Yuan presented Bai at that farewell (which was highly unusual—just as Bai’s letter to Yuan is the only extant Tang letter to contain poetry, this is one of only two extant Tang offering texts containing poems).76 In the fourth section, Bai Juyi responds with two quatrains of mourning for Yuan’s parting poems, presenting the new poems to Yuan’s spirit. Then in the final section, Bai Juyi reflects on the 76. In Tang offering texts I have examined to date, I have found one other instance of the author’s own verse, in Liu Yuxi’s offering text for Han Yu, which ends with six heptametric lines of verse. Qu Tuiyuan suggests that these may have been added from another source; they are not framed by a narrative or integrated into the rest of the text as Bai Juyi’s poems are. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng, waiji 3:1538.

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problem of death and specifically on the death of friends. Like Liu Yuxi, Bai Juyi provides plenty of narrative in the offering text—not of Yuan’s life but of their thirty-year friendship, and of Bai’s response to their final separation. The opening (which I do not cite here) contains the most formal, eulogistic language of the piece, praising Yuan as a renowned official of his time. In the second section, however, Bai Juyi turns away from Yuan the individual and recounts the story of their literary friendship. Here, the theme is fullness and completion. Alas, alas Weizhi! In the last years of the Zhenyuan reign, we first sealed our friendship. In our progress and pauses, successes and obstacles, there was nothing that we did not experience together. [The firmness of] metal and stone, [the tight bond of] glue and lacquer—even these aren’t sufficient comparisons [for our closeness]. Our vicissitudes through death and life have reached across thirty years; the poems we matched back and forth number nine hundred. But since this is widely known in the world, I shall not recount it here. As for the turning points of rank and honor, or sorrow and disaster, amid melancholy longing and sleepless nights, the vows in our hearts shared the same destination, and we exchanged feelings more than once. But this is all laid out in our literary works, and I shall not retell it here. 嗚呼微之! 貞元季年, 始定交分. 行止通塞, 靡所不同. 金石膠漆, 未足 為喻. 死生契闊者三十載, 歌詩唱和者九百章. 播於人間, 今不復敘. 至 於爵祿患難之際, 寤寐憂思之間, 誓心同歸, 交感非一. 布在文翰, 今不 重云.

In the center of this passage, Bai simultaneously raises the problem of adequate expression and undermines his own argument: if their relationship was indeed fully documented and “widely known in the world,” then what is left to say? One possibility is that Bai Juyi needs this last chance to commemorate their friendship and renown, and is compelled to recount their story despite his protestations. Bai’s reinscription of their literary fame in this offering text is clearly aimed at posterity, a hedge against the loss of works over time. But the reinscription also implicitly raises the problem of adequacy from a different angle: did the friends not express everything they needed to say over thirty years and nine hundred

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poems? As the offering text moves on, we see the answer to this is “no.” Undaunted by his sorrow, Bai Juyi takes full advantage of having the last word. From the generalized account of their friendship, Bai Juyi moves into a vivid memory of their last meeting and parting. The poems that Yuan composed at that farewell serve as Yuan’s final appearance in the text. Only recently, you were honored as Assistant Director of the Left in the Department of State Affairs. When you passed through Luoyang from Yue, we parted drunkenly, shouting with grief, and you handed me two poems that said, 君應怪我留連久 我欲與君辭別難 白頭徒侶漸稀少 明日恐君無此歡 自識君來三度別 這迴白盡老髭鬚 戀君不去君須會 知得後迴相見無

You surely find it strange that I linger so long; but I find it hard to bid farewell to you. We white-headed comrades are growing fewer and fewer, I fear that tomorrow you won’t have such pleasure. Since I first met you, we have parted three times; this time the white has completely aged our beards. You must know my fondness for you keeps me from leaving— I wonder if we’ll have another chance to meet again.

When you had finished chanting the poems you wept, clasped my hands, and left. I turned over the reason for this in my mind, and in my inmost heart I was deeply alarmed. After you had “abandoned your post” in Ezhou,77 the grievous notice of your death suddenly arrived; after the stab of pain, countless feelings welled in my breast. I perused closely your poems from before, and the sense of your words indeed suggested this. Did I thus not receive a foreshadowing omen from your po-soul? With no other way to send you my feelings of grief, I wrote two poems of mourning. And now I record them here, as a supplement to this libation prayer.

77. “Abandoned the post” as a term for death in office comes from Zhanguo ce, referring to the death of Li Dui, Lord Fengyang.

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唯近者, 公拜左丞. 自越過洛, 醉別悲吒投我二詩云 . . . 吟罷涕零, 執手 而去. 私揣其故, 中心惕然. 及公捐館於鄂, 悲訃忽至. 一慟之後, 萬感交 懷. 覆視前篇, 詞意若此. 得非魄兆先知之乎? 無以繼寄悲情, 作哀詞二 首. 今載於是, 以附奠文. 其一云. . . . 其二云. . . . The first says, 八月涼風吹白幕 寢門廊下哭微之 妻孥親友來相弔 唯道皇天無所知

A cool breeze of the eighth month blows the white curtains; At the death chamber door and in halls of state they wail for Weizhi.78 Wife, children, and his closest friends come to mourn for him— How could one say that August Heaven has no way to know?

The second: 文章卓犖生無敵 風骨精靈殆有神 哭送咸陽北原上 可能隨例作埃塵

In the brilliance of his literary work, in life he had no match— in death, the refined mystery and “wind and bone” of his spirit remains. Weeping, I send him off to the northern plains of Xianyang— If only I might follow in my turn to become sand and dust!

As we saw in his 817 letter to Yuan, by placing these two sets of poems in the center of the offering text, Bai is able to perform a set piece of their poetic friendship one final time. Yuan Zhen’s poems from that occasion (which Bai Juyi matched at the time with poems of his own, preserving them in his collected works, though he did not include them here) are informal and affectionate. Yuan’s fond tone comes through in the hypotaxis of the loose seven-character line, the repeated use of the 78. The “innermost room” is the room outside of which the mourners for the deceased are met as described in the Yili (Book of ceremonies), the section on burial rituals for the shi (scholar-officials). The “halls of state” (langxia 廊下) refer to an imperial court ritual of feeding officials in the halls or verandas outside the court, after the emperor had retired (Tang hui yao 24.469).

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pronouns jun and wo, the self-deprecation of “white-headed comrade,” (baitou tulü). These parting poems become the most intimate moment of the offering text, an unexpected lightness in the somber ritual. Bai Juyi frames them carefully: not only were they the last words of their final parting, but—as he understands only after Yuan Zhen’s death—they were an omen from Yuan’s po-soul. The realization that these were not just casual poems, but an unconscious message from Yuan, implicitly justifies Bai Juyi’s highly unconventional inclusion of poems in an offering text. He uses them to reassure his friend’s spirit that he has understood the unspoken intent of the spiritual communication. After the two men’s final physical contact, the clasping of hands at Yuan’s departure, Bai Juyi turns his narrative to focus on his own response to the news of Yuan’s death, similar to Liu Yuxi’s reported response to the news of Liu Zongyuan’s death. As Bai Juyi had noted earlier, every experience the two men lived required a poetic exchange. Where Yuan Zhen’s two parting poems were casual and fond, Bai Juyi’s poems are formal portraits of mourning for Yuan that celebrate his life as a public official and a famous writer. Just as Liu Yuxi included the details of the funerary tasks in his offering text as a communication to both Liu Zongyuan and the other mourners, we might consider these poems both praise and information for Yuan’s spirit. The first describes the mourning of family and friends in the presence of the coffin, mourning that extends all the way to the halls of the imperial palace where officials who knew Yuan are gathered, and even to Heaven. In the second poem, Bai Juyi takes on the question of literary fame, praising Yuan’s literary brilliance and guaranteeing his immortality after death through his literary work. In both cases, Bai Juyi has turned the personal address into a public celebration and reconfirmed the value of their friendship in both realms. In the conclusion to this section, Bai once again draws our attention to his performance of the ritual when he returns to his own weeping by the coffin at the close of his second poem. There, he utters a wish to follow his friend to the grave. But what happens to Bai Juyi when the person who has been so much a part of his identity dies? Bai finally broaches this problem in his long conclusion. Alas, alas, Weizhi! We began by making friends through poems, and we end by parting with poems. How could it be that today both strings and

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brushes are broken apart? Alas, alas, Weizhi! Amid the Three Realms,79 who does not live only to die? Within the four seas, who does not have friends? But so between your body and mine, there must be a parting to the end of time. Now that the departed one is no more, what becomes of the one who has not yet died? Alas, alas, Weizhi! This failing old man of sixty, with a heart of ashes and tears of blood, takes the wine to offer another libation, and strokes your coffin with a cry. Buddhist sutras tell us, for all those bound by karma, there are none whose lives are not a result of causation.80 My meeting you was destined—how could it have been mere chance? In all our many lives to this point, how many times did we part and reunite? And now with this parting, might there not be a future meeting?81 Although you will not return, I must follow after you. How can it be that the body departs while the shadow remains? The skin be lost but the hair linger on? Alas, alas, Weizhi! My utterance [the offering text] ends with this. May you accept this offering.82 嗚呼微之! 始以詩交, 終以詩訣. 絃筆兩決, 其今日乎! 嗚呼微之! 三界 之間, 孰不生死 ? 四海之內, 孰無交朋? 然以我爾之身, 為終天之別. 既 往者已矣, 未死者何如? 嗚呼微之! 六十衰翁, 灰心血淚, 引酒再奠, 撫棺一呼. 佛經云凡有業 結, 無非因集. 與公緣會, 豈是偶然? 多生已來, 幾離幾合? 既有今別, 寧 無後期? 公雖不歸, 我應繼往. 安有形去而影在, 皮亡而毛存者乎? 嗚呼微之! 言盡於此. 尚饗.

79. The “Three Realms” are the Buddhist realms of desire, form, and pure spirit. 80. These lines are a generalized statement about the relationship between causation and rebirth. Bai’s goal here is to argue that their friendship must have been destined through their actions in past lives, and was thus not a matter of chance. As a consequence, he does not explore the question of the moral quality of the ye, karma, that led them to meet and become friends. 81. In an offering text written for Wei Chuhou, another longtime friend who died in 829, two years before Yuan Zhen, Bai asks a similar question, “How could there not be a future meeting?” 豈無後期. In that offering text, Bai interprets a conversation with Wei just prior to Wei’s death as a sign of destiny, in a manner quite similar to his interpretation of Yuan’s poems. Wei was himself a Buddhist with whom Bai had often studied; Yuan was not. (Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 5:3713–14.) The opposite sentiment can be found in Han Yu’s offering text for Liu Zongyuan, in which Han states, “I think on the fact of your eternal departure, and that there will not be a future meeting” 念子永歸, 無復來期. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu, 4:2331. 82. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao, 6:3721–24.

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Bai Juyi moves from reflecting on their literary friendship to finally confronting his friend’s death by explaining his use of poems in the offering text. He has completed the story of their relationship (jiao 交) and now must move on to the problem of parting (jue 絕) in this world. Everyone must die, and everyone has friends; how then does one endure the inevitable death of friends? We saw that Liu Yuxi’s offering text uses this same rhetorical technique to negotiate the transition between the mourner’s grief and the ineluctable fact of death. Bai Juyi suggests an answer by saying that the partings they experience in life, to which Yuan refers in his first poem, are only rehearsals for this parting, and that all those past partings will be subsumed in the cycle of separation and reunion of their past and future lives together. Unlike Liu Yuxi, Bai Juyi strongly resists the finality of this parting. Yet as he comes to the conclusion, his hopeful tone diminishes. He states what he knows to be true and what needs to be said to the unsettled spirit—“Although you will not return, I must follow after you”—and in the next breath wonders about the implications of that truth—“How can it be that the body departs while the shadow remains? The skin be lost but the hair linger on?” One way to read this final image is that Bai Juyi sees them as two beings in a single body, in which case his friend’s death dismantles their mutual body, leaving him as the lesser part, the “shadow” and the “hair,” behind. Another possible reading is that although Yuan Zhen’s form has departed, his “shadow” and “hair” remain behind—his literary works, which Bai Juyi had praised earlier, will survive as relics of Yuan’s existence. These readings are not mutually exclusive: given that the men’s physical contact over the course of their lives was much less frequent than their literary contact, it is only natural that their literary collections truly embody their friendship, as Bai Juyi has made clear already. Bai Juyi is left as the one who survives (cun), along with Yuan’s corpus. By the end of the text, Bai has no more words to offer—no more praise, memories, or poems—and he has even exhausted the questions for which he has no answers. Unlike Liu Yuxi, who felt the need to perform a second offering for his friend that even then did not fully express his grief, Bai’s text seems to end with ritual and emotional completion, giving it a sense of fulfillment despite the grief it expresses. Though Yuan may have been the closest of Bai’s lifelong friends to die relatively early,

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Bai went on to see all of his close companions die before him over the next fifteen years. The fact that Bai, who grieved so often for his departed friends in poems, offering texts, and epitaphs, died with none of his friends to commemorate him, underscores the truth of the lines he wrote at age seventy-two: “In this life, never envy those ill-destined to live long: / in recalling old friends, those who live long have much bitter grief” 人 生莫羨苦長命命, 長感舊多悲辛.83 In the hands of these writers, the composition, performance, and textual preservation of offering texts for friends became a newly powerful way to commemorate the deceased and their relationships with them. Unlike the formal gravity expected in epitaphs or other inscriptions, the emotionally heightened rhetorical setting of the last coffin-side farewell created the expectation of a sincere expression of feeling, even if the offering was presented via messenger rather than in person, as must have happened frequently. But rather than relying on the safe conventions we find in so many Tang offering texts, these mourners brought specific personal and political details into their compositions, and they transformed the genre. Although we have only examined these three examples, other authors have left equally compelling and personalized offering texts for friends. In Han Yu’s offering texts for some of his literary friends such as Zhang Shu, Zhang Che, and Hou Xi, for example, he adopts the specific literary style that he and the deceased friend had shared, and he includes memories of particular outings and exchanges. Quan Deyu’s offering texts for Tang Ci and Liang Su mingle praise for his deceased friends’ characters with recollections of the closeness of the friendships. Li Ao’s offering text for Han Yu, discussed below, contains a detailed portrait of their meeting and long friendship, Han’s conduct towards Li over the course of his life, and Han’s painful illness and death. The decision to save certain offering texts in one’s collection must have been difficult; given that so many writers, if we can judge from extant texts, tended to stay well within the boundaries of ritual and literary convention, they would not be likely to preserve a particular offering 83. At the time of his death in 842, Bai Juyi’s cousin Bai Minzhong 白敏中 (792– 861) was serving as grand councilor to emperor Wuzong and (according to Tang yu lin) had Li Shangyin 李商隱 appointed to compose an epitaph. See the discussion in Jian Changchun 蹇長春, Bai Juyi pingzhuan 白居易評傳 (Nanjing: Nanjing daxue chubanshe, 2002), 333–34.

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text unless it had some literary, political, or personal significance above and beyond mere sentimental value. Reading these addresses to dead friends preserved in mid-Tang collections, we can begin to see how the offering text contributed to the larger picture of a life and a friendship, and allowed writers to reflect on their most meaningful relationships in a rhetorically private but textually public space of commemoration.

Writing the Life and Death of Han Yu While speaking to their literati contemporaries and to the spirits of the deceased through funerary writing, mid-Tang literati also considered readers of the future, hoping that their commemorative texts would become part of the deceased’s official biographical record and shape his posthumous reputation for generations to come. In the case of Han Yu, with his rather complicated political record, the task of crafting a legacy after Han’s death was both pressing and sensitive. The authors of the inscriptions, offering texts, and posthumous biography for Han were all close friends and followers of his—Li Ao, Huangfu Shi, and Zhang Ji, among others, composed texts for him—and thus had the challenge of praising Han Yu and defining the significant events of his life without being suspected of falsehood or inflated rhetoric. Criticism of exaggeration in funerary writing was perennial in medieval culture,84 but it seems to have reached new heights in the early ninth century. More to the point, it was a sensitive issue for the men in Han’s circle. In 819, five years before Han’s death, Li Ao had himself submitted a memorial sharply criticizing overblown praise in accounts of conduct:

84. For a discussion of the links and tensions between “historiographical” and “commemorative” writing for deceased officials in early medieval China, see Davis, “Potent Stone,” 179–90. Although officials throughout the medieval era criticized reputation inflation in funerary writing and biographical accounts produced for the state histories, different regimes developed unique strategies for managing it. The approach taken during the Tang was highly bureaucratic and depended on layers of readers in different offices, multiple texts, and (in theory) fact-checking. See Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 75–77.

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Those who nowadays compose accounts of conduct, if they are not actual disciples [of the deceased] are his former subordinates. In all cases, they falsely interpolate examples of his benevolence and righteousness, his observance of propriety and his wisdom, or tell lies about his loyalty, respectfulness, graciousness, and kindness. In some cases, in speaking of his grand virtues and great achievements they exaggerate them and make them even more glorious; in others, they represent [the deceased’s] adherence to the correct way and his straight opinions as though even after his death he would be incorruptible, and never tell the facts in a straightforward way. Thus good and evil become confused, and cannot be clearly perceived. 今之作行狀者, 非其門生, 即其故吏. 莫不虛加仁義禮智, 妄言忠肅惠和. 或言盛德大業, 遠而愈光. 或云直道正言, 歿而不朽, 曾不直敘其事. 故善 惡混然不可明.85

Li Ao’s chief recommendations in this memorial are to focus on the facts of the case, specifically to include more of the deceased’s actual words and to provide more narrative context for his most heroic deeds, and not simply “sing the praises [of their subject] with insubstantial verbiage.”86 Li Ao obviously bore the responsibility of living up to his own commitments, and by extension, so did the other members of Han’s circle. The posthumous biography, entombed epitaph, and spirit path stele composed by Li Ao and Huangfu Shi are complex, highly detailed texts that cover a wide range of political and philosophical issues, but they also include extensive comments about Han Yu’s social conduct towards family members, friends, and students.87 The specificity of these remarks and their presence in every extant piece of funerary writing for Han show that his friends believed that Han’s conduct of personal relationships was an important window into his character. The closest members of his

85. QTW 634.7a. Translation with some modifications from Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 72. 86. Ibid., 74. 87. There is little information regarding the closeness of the relationship (whether intellectual or personal) between Li Ao and Huangfu Shi; for a brief discussion, see Barrett, Li Ao, 81. Huangfu’s texts certainly show deference to Li Ao’s perspective on Han Yu’s life.

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circle used their commemorative texts to uphold him as someone who perfectly embodies Confucian virtues in the world. However, in order to make their claims for Han Yu’s broader significance persuasive, their recollections and praise had to be based on specific examples of conduct rather than merely on their knowledge of him. Commemorations for posterity required a higher burden of proof, unlike recommendations to patrons for employment. For Han Yu to survive into the future as “not a person of this age, but a person of antiquity” 非茲世之人, 古之人也, as Li Ao once described him,88 the perspective of lived friendship had to give way to evidence drawn from biography and siwen 斯文, their cultural tradition. Li Ao’s posthumous biography and Huangfu Shi’s two inscriptions (for the epitaph that would be entombed, and the spirit path stele that would be erected above ground by the tomb) played unique roles in shaping the official record of Han’s life, and therefore they address Han’s political career, his writing, and his social conduct in quite different measures and with different emphases. As a rule, the more factual account of conduct was commissioned only for officials of rank 3 or above, but it could occasionally be compiled for lower-ranking officials who were prominent in some way (Han Yu was r. 4a in his final post), and it necessarily focused on an official’s service to the state. But as Li Ao’s criticism from 819 suggests, the account of conduct was also a common venue for elaborate praise, since beyond its historiographical contributions, one of its key purposes was to win for the deceased a designation of a posthumous honor title and a posthumous office of high rank that would provide funds to the deceased’s family. The entombed epitaph, along with other supplemental inscriptions such as the spirit path stele, was also to be submitted to the Office of Merit Assessment as part of the same process.89 For men of high rank and prestige, these were potentially very influential and visible texts (literally visible, in the case of spirit path steles). It is not surprising, therefore, to find that Li Ao and Huangfu Shi use much of their texts to portray Han Yu as a faithful and capable

88. Li Ao made this claim in his letter of recommendation for Han to Lu San. QTW 635.14a–15a. 89. Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 68–69.

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official in the service of the emperors Xianzong and Muzong and their chief ministers. As was appropriate for the functions of the account of conduct, Li Ao’s account focuses most closely on the facts and events of Han’s official career and says the least about his writing or ideas. In all three accounts, however, the writers choose to elide or only briefly summarize Han Yu’s political missteps and failures, most obviously in the case of his 819 demotion for the memorial criticizing Xianzong for his veneration of the bone of the Buddha. Their attention to Han Yu’s conduct towards friends and family in all three inscriptional accounts is unusual, however, and it raises the possibility that Han himself had some hand in this portrait. In fact, the composition of these texts was probably discussed and decided by Han Yu and his companions well before Han Yu’s death in December of 824. By then Han Yu had been ill for several months, and as the offering text by Li Ao and the offering poem by Zhang Ji tell us, he saw all the members of his circle in that time. Han Yu likely discussed the writing of his funerary texts with the members of his circle, since three of the texts refer directly to conversations the authors had with Han Yu in his last months, and Huangfu states directly that Han Yu had tasked him with the composition of the entombed epitaph. The relationships among Han and the authors surely explain the great similarity between the biographical details of the account of conduct, spirit path stele, and entombed epitaph, and for their shared silence on key points. This is not to suggest that the inscriptions were either written by committee or ghost-written by Han Yu, since each text has a distinct individual voice; however, it is clear from the repetition of words, phrases, and themes among the texts that the writers relied upon one another’s work. We also know the rough chronology of the texts from internal dating. Li Ao’s account of conduct was written within a few months of Han’s death; Huangfu Shi then composed the spirit path stele inscription and the entombed epitaph (the epitaph in fact refers explicitly to the text of the spirit path stele at one point) close to the time of Han’s burial in April 825. Han Yu was highly conscious of the cultural impact of funerary texts, having written so many famous ones himself, and he must have shared that knowledge with his circle. Han Yu had, like Li Ao, served in the Historiography Institute, the shiguan 史館, as a compiler, and then in the Bureau of Evaluations, and was just before his death a

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Vice-Director of the Ministry of Personnel. He therefore fully comprehended the practical influence of these texts on a man’s posthumous reputation. It seems reasonable to assume that the texts composed by Li Ao, Huangfu Shi, and Zhang Ji were informed by Han Yu’s wishes for his own remembrance as well as by the three writers’ understanding of the different bureaucratic, familial, and literary audiences they were addressing in their respective texts. The chief objective of Li Ao’s account of conduct was to convince the officials in charge of posthumous titles and honors of Han Yu’s great service as an official of the Tang state so that he would be awarded a prestigious canonization title (shi 謚) and his reputation would be passed down in a positive light. Given his own statements about falsehood and hypocrisy in biographies, it is not surprising to find that Li Ao composed a very detailed, political, and sometimes rather dry account of Han’s life. However, Li also chose to exaggerate certain events and periods in Han’s life, exclude some sensitive issues, and perhaps unexpectedly to slight Han Yu’s prodigious literary output, consigning the discussion of Han’s writing to the smallest discrete portion of the entire text. In contrast, Li’s description of Han Yu’s consistency, fidelity, and extraordinary generosity to both friends and family, though largely relegated to the end of the biography (as was common in the genre), occupies twice the space of the portrait of Han as a writer. Han Yu’s official career and actions as an official take up roughly 80 percent of the two thousand words of the biography. More remarkably, three-quarters of the entire text focus on the events of Han Yu’s life between the years of 816, when he played a role in the successful Huaixi campaign of 816–17 under Pei Du, and 823, the year before his death. Li Ao’s emphasis on a few key events in which Han Yu showed leadership and decisiveness extends to including scenes of dramatic dialogue.90 90. This period of seven years was by far the most successful of Han’s official career, and Li Ao’s focus on select events was clearly intended to demonstrate Han’s capability as a defender of the state in both military and civil arenas. One episode that Li Ao highlights in the account of conduct is Han’s negotiation with a rebel provincial official that led to the rebel’s surrender. Hartman (Han Yü, 106) notes correctly that this is the climax of Li Ao’s narrative, but we have no other contemporary sources for this event, nor is it noted in the Jiu Tang shu biography of the rebel, Wang Tingcou 王庭湊 ( JTS 142.3887), or in the basic annals for Changqing 2 (823), even though other actions by

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However, Li Ao also chose to exclude or downplay two significant moments in Han’s career that also occurred in these years: he ignores entirely the embarrassment Han suffered when his commemorative stele for the Huaixi victory was demolished and replaced with another’s in 818,91 and he gives only a rapid paraphrase of Han’s words and actions in the Buddha bone memorial event of 819, which led to Han’s demotion and service in Chaozhou in 819.92 Silence or at least discretion on these issues seemed warranted in the context of this biography of Han. Not only was Xianzong dead in 824, replaced first by one young, frivolous ruler (Muzong, who died in early 824) and then an even more hapless one (his son Jingzong, aged fifteen at his accession),93 but the political contexts of both the stele debacle and the Buddha bone memorial were no longer relevant at the time of Han’s death. Li Ao’s defense of Han Yu’s positive contributions as an official would not have been controversial in this context, and it would have reminded the officials in charge of decisions regarding posthumous honors to consider Han’s most impressive accomplishments. Li Ao also interweaves his political account with telling statements about Han Yu’s conduct towards others; taken together, these snapshots of Han Yu as a social actor provide a moral throughline to the more complex account of Han the official. For example, in his brief summary of Han Yu’s time in 821 as the Chancellor of the College of the Sons of State (r. 3b), Li Ao includes an account of Han Yu’s attack on snobbery Wang are noted there. Li’s account of Han’s actions does not appear anywhere in the Xin Tang shu, but it reemerges, clearly paraphrased from the account of conduct, in Zizhi tongjian 242.7813. 91. This incident does not appear in any of Han’s biographies until the Jiu Tang shu biography (160.1498), a text that is not particularly flattering to Han at times, and it is repeated in Han’s Xin Tang shu biography. It was also made famous by Li Shangyin’s poem on the destruction of Han’s inscription (QTS 539.6153–54). The claim made in Jiu Tang shu and Xin Tang shu was that Han’s account gave too much praise for Pei Du’s role and unnecessarily slighted others. For discussion of the Huaixi campaign, see Cambridge History, vol. 3, 614–15, 631–32; Charles A. Peterson, “A Regional Defense Against the Central Power: The Huai-hsi Campaign, 815–817,” in Frank A. Kierman, Jr., ed., Chinese Ways in Warfare (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), 123–50. For a discussion of Han’s role in the campaign, see Hartman, Han Yü, 79–84. 92. Hartman, Han Yü, 84–93; Luo, Han Yu yanjiu, 104–12. 93. See Cambridge History, vol. 3, 635–46, for the climate at court during the reign of these two emperors.

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in the school and his belief in the primacy of talent over birth or external appearance: When he entered the position of chancellor at the college, there was a lecturer who was capable in speaking on the Ritual [classics] but was ugly in appearance. The other college officials were mostly sons of aristocratic families, and they shunned him and would not eat with him. The master commanded his clerk, “Go and fetch the lecturer and ask him to eat with me, the chancellor.” After that, the college officials did not dare mistreat the lecturer. 入遷國子祭酒, 有直講能說禮而陋於容, 學官多豪族子, 擯之不得共食. 公命吏曰, 召直講來, 與祭酒共食. 學官由此不敢賤直講.94

In the final section of the biography, after noting the date and place of Han’s death, Li Ao attempts to give a sense of Han Yu in the round, drawing implicit connections between Han’s behavior towards his friends and relatives and his literary interests. The master’s spirit was robust, and his nature was consistent; he could discuss and debate on many diverse topics. In his relations with people, from beginning to end, he never altered.In all he married off ten of the daughters of his own and his wife’s relatives and those of his friends for whom there was no one to oversee [the betrothals]. He was raised from childhood by his aunt of the Zheng clan; when his aunt passed away, he wore mourning attire for her.95 He was deeply talented in literary writing, and always held that since Yang Xiong there had never been a [true] writer. Though his approach to wen was never to imitate those before him, he indeed can be ranked alongside them. From the end of the Zhenyuan era till today, even among those who came later who were committed to the wen of antiquity, there were none who did not look to him as a model. He had one collection in forty scrolls and a smaller collection in ten.

94. QTW 639.24b. 95. This period of mourning was normally observed for one’s grandfather or grandmother, or a sibling in the same generation. Li’s inclusion of this detail here is meant to convey Han’s filiality and respect for the woman who, though not an agnatic relative, raised him as a son.

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公氣厚性通, 論議多大體. 與人交, 始終不易. 凡嫁內外及交友之女無主 者十人. 幼養於嫂鄭氏, 及嫂歿, 為之服以報之. 深於文章, 每以為自揚雄之後, 作者不出. 其為文未嘗效前人之言, 而 固與之並. 自貞元末以至於茲, 後進之士, 其有志於古文者, 莫不視公以 為. 有集四十卷, 小集十卷.96

Li Ao’s theme throughout the biography is Han Yu’s moral consistency: not only did Han defend the unjustly ostracized man of talent, but he was true to those he had formed bonds with and treated them as family. Whether or not Li Ao’s view is borne out by Han Yu’s works or even by contemporary statements about him, Li Ao implies that the same consistency of character also appeared in Han’s unswerving commitment to guwen and his fame in successive generations. Li Ao’s biography seems to have accomplished at least one of its objectives: Han Yu was given the canonization name of Wen 文, “Literary” or “Cultured,” one of the most prestigious canonization titles awarded during the dynasty.97 In Huangfu Shi’s spirit path stele inscription and epitaph, both of which were composed shortly after Li Ao’s biography, we find these same themes of consistency, generosity of spirit, and fidelity more fully integrated into a larger picture of Han Yu as a figure of Tang culture. Although Huangfu Shi came to know Han Yu later than did Li Ao, Zhang Ji, or Meng Jiao, becoming friends with Han only after 808, the few texts they exchanged that are extant suggest the relationship was quite close, an impression confirmed by the choice of Huangfu to compose both of these influential inscriptions.98 In the spirit path stele, Huangfu takes up the question of Han Yu’s social connections—both familial and friendly— and fleshes out the portrait of his conduct with minor but revealing details. 96. QTW 639.26b–27a. 97. See McMullen, State and Scholars, 226–28, for eighth-century examples of this canonization title. In other examples from among Han’s mentors and contemporaries, Quan Deyu, Cui Qun, Li Ao, and Bai Juyi were also given the title Wen. 98. Huangfu Shi has very few prose or poetic texts extant, no biography in Jiu Tang shu, and a brief, very anecdotal paragraph of biography nested into Han Yu’s Xin Tang shu biography (167.5267–68). He apparently became friends with the poet Li He from Han’s introduction, and was perhaps best known during the Yuanhe reign for being one of the 808 examination candidates accused of speaking out too directly in criticism of the state. (See chap. 3, n 43 for this event.) For a summary of the evidence for the two men’s relationship, see Luo, Han Yu yanjiu, 185–90.

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Unlike the biography, however, the spirit path stele focuses on the Han family as well as Han Yu’s friendships, in part because (as Huangfu notes in the text) Han’s widow and son Chang 昶 requested that Huangfu compose the inscription, presumably due to Han Yu’s prior suggestion. Roughly two-thirds of the 1,600-word text is given to a summary version of Li Ao’s biography, including the same events in the same sequence and relative proportions, and Huangfu Shi even cites or closely echoes phrases from Li’s text at certain points. But the remaining third of the text treats Han Yu’s lineage—at the opening and conclusion of the inscription, which was typical—and his conduct towards family and friends. In describing Han Yu’s conduct towards others, Huangfu juxtaposes Han’s humble and faithful personal conduct with his awe-inspiring public reputation. It was also said that his worthiness was so excellent that it made your heart leap up and your color rise and you would be drawn into following him. All those inside or outside his family who were in distress were tended to by him, and he treated all personally with humaneness. He made sure that the men would have offices, the women would have someone to follow [in marriages], no less than he would treat his own children. In his social relations, he was responsible to the end, and if the end occurred unexpectedly, at [his friends’] death, he would provide for their families, feeding all equally and allotting funds to them. Thus, even the weakest and most frail he treated as though they were his worthiest relatives. The more people mocked him [for this], the more generous he was. There was never a meal when he did not sit down with guests. As for his inner quarter [women], if he saw their faces by daylight, it was because he retired to give them advice. He was indeed fond of various crafts, and there was virtually nothing [in the household] that he did not attend to. However, the advanced scholars in the world who came after him regarded his stature and were awed and intimidated, believing him to be an auspicious and god-like scholar, one who shone brilliantly from the heavens, someone whose uniqueness was unattainable, whose brilliance could not be outshone, such that men looked to his gates but did not dare call on him.99 又曰, 其賢善耳, 必心躍色揚, 鉤而游之, 內外惸弱悉撫之, 一親以仁. 使

99. QTW 687.13a–b.

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男有官, 女有從, 而不啻於已生. 交於人, 已而我負終不計, 死則庀其家, 均食剖資與人. 故雖微弱, 待之如賢戚, 人詬笑之愈篤. 未嘗一食不對 客, 閨人或晝見其面, 退相指語, 以為異事, 實嗜才技, 毫細無所略. 然而天下之進士而後者望風戁畏, 以為瑞人神士, 朗出天外, 不可梯 接. 非有奇卓, 望門不敢造.

Huangfu here chooses to describe in detail Han’s rather broadminded approach to ren 仁, humaneness, an approach that seemed to ignore and even erase distinctions between familial and non-familial ties. Huangfu even notes the degree to which this was considered strange behavior in Tang elite society, adding that “the more people mocked him for it, the more generous he became.” Although Huangfu Shi does not explicitly deploy the rhetoric of friendship, we find him defending a counter-cultural model of social harmony and equity that was based on personal commitments and moral principles rather than on common social practice. The juxtaposition of this description with the reference to Han’s public reputation is equally suggestive. First, Huangfu implies that the personal conduct of Han Yu with his family and friends was not only an intelligible sign of moral integrity but perhaps the strongest evidence for it. Second, the public view of Han Yu as Huangfu depicts it, though certainly appropriate as a response to Han’s real achievements, was held by men who could not themselves see past distinctions and difference and who idolized Han as an unattainable model. Neither of the stereotypes that Huangfu deploys here in defense of Han—the humble man of compassion or the towering literary icon— was new to commemorative writing; what is remarkable is Huangfu’s implication that understanding both the private and public dimensions of the man, the mundanely human and the “celestial,” was necessary to truly comprehend Han’s worth and his impact. This was a text aimed not so much at posterity as at the different, overlapping communities that Han left behind, including the many people who had benefited from his generosity as well as the literati who might need reminding of Han Yu’s awe-inspiring reputation. Beyond the question of how the different audiences for these texts affected their rhetorical stances, we might also consider their different material forms on paper or stone, before they were recopied into collections and shared informally. Li Ao’s biography was an official doc-

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ument that was delivered to the Bureau of Evaluations, verified there, and then sent to the Court of Imperial Sacrifices (Taichang si 太常 司) for deliberation, along with a separate document requesting a specific canonization title.100 Huangfu Shi’s spirit path stele, on the other hand, would have been inscribed and placed above ground in the Han family funerary site for the living to view after the funeral. Finally, the entombed epitaph, the most prestigious commemoration of Han’s life, would have been consigned with him to the ground and usually covered with a second stone to ensure its integrity, thereafter existing outside the tomb only as ink on paper.101 Copies of both texts by Huangfu would have been submitted to the court, however, for inclusion in Han’s personnel file. Among these material objects, the entombed epitaph had the briefest presence among the living in its original inscribed form, and yet its impact was perhaps the most far-reaching for the deceased. It is clear that Huangfu Shi believed the entombed epitaph to be the most fitting venue to make the broadest argument he could about Han Yu’s significance—not only as a Tang official but as one who transmitted the Way of Confucius. Of all the extant commemorative texts for Han Yu, including the preface to his collected works by his nephew Li Han, Huangfu Shi’s entombed epitaph is the most explicitly ideological, the most carefully crafted, the most formal and allusive in style, and the most ambitious in attempting to shape the opinion of future readers.102 Huangfu stakes out his goals in the opening, when he exclaims, “Alas, alas! He was the utmost, and those who come after cannot add to him in any way. Since the time of [the Zhou], there has been only this one man” 嗚呼! 極矣, 後人無以加之矣. 姬氏以來, 一人而已矣. Although he goes on to praise Han in ornate eulogistic language throughout the text, Huangfu Shi opens the epitaph with a personal vignette that captures the two men’s closeness as well as Han Yu’s concern for his own reputation: 100. Li Ao states that he presented the biography to these offices in both the account of conduct and his offering text for Han Yu. For the procedures, see Twitchett, Writing of Official History, 67–68. 101. Tackett, “The Transformation of Medieval Chinese Elites,” 11–12. 102. For all these reasons, the text was often anthologized; one edition that contains a digest of useful annotation is Gao Buying 高步瀛, Tang Song wen juyao 唐宋文舉要 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1963), 2:569–75.

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In the eighth month of the fourth year of the Changqing reign [824], Master Han of Changli resigned his post of Vice Director of the Ministry of Personnel due to illness, and he wrote instructions to me that said, “You are the only one to whom I can entrust [the task of] keeping me [my achievements] from being obliterated in the succeeding generations after my death.” In the twelfth month of that year, on the bingzi day, he then passed away. 長慶四年八月, 昌黎韓先生既以疾免吏部侍郎. 書諭湜曰, 死能令我躬 所以不隨世磨滅者惟子以為囑. 其年十二月丙子, 遂薨.

Han Yu’s words of instruction to his student and friend were not idly chosen—he himself knew from the destruction of his own inscription commemorating the Huaixi victory the fragility of even words engraved on stone. The allusion embedded in the line conveys both Han Yu’s anxiety and his self-regard, invoking Sima Qian’s words to Ren An in his famous letter: “The number of wealthy and powerful men of antiquity whose names have been obliterated (momie 磨滅) is numberless; the only ones who are known are the exceptional, those outside the norm” 古者 富貴而名磨滅, 不可勝記, 唯倜傥非常之人稱焉.103 Huangfu Shi uses the inscription to create a portrait of Han Yu as one who stood above and beyond his generation, someone whose exceptional qualities were barely understood in his day. In the context of his grand narrative of Han Yu as culture hero, however, Huangfu’s humanizing portrait of Han Yu as a friend or family member found in the spirit path stele had to shift register and scale (and in fact, Huangfu explicitly refers readers to the other inscription for more detail). Rather than being surrounded by friends who “knew him” and by young people in need, Han Yu appears in the entombed epitaph as a singular man of vision whom others had difficulty following, even from an early age: By the time he was seven, the master loved to study, and when he spoke, his words became texts.104 Once he had been capped, he wrote unre-

103. Wen xuan 41.1864. 104. This is an allusion to Yang Xiong’s Fayan 法言, which is alluded to again later in the piece: “Someone asked, ‘When the gentleman speaks, it becomes literature, and when he acts, it becomes virtuous. How is this?’ ” 君子言則成文, 動則成德, 何以也?

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strainedly to transmit the Way of the Sages. People began by not believing [his words], but once they were uttered they could not be suppressed; when their sound reverberated and his work shone out, everyone at the time was startled and shocked and joined together to reject him. When he was in the utmost danger and about to fall, he did not cease his efforts but revealed himself even more, and in the end he was much believed throughout the world. 先生七歲好學, 言出成文. 及冠, 恣為書以傳聖人之道. 人始未信, 既發 不掩, 聲震業光, 眾方驚爆, 而萃排之. 乘危將顛, 不懈益張, 卒大信於 天下.

Huangfu’s portrait of Han’s friendly generosity from the spirit path stele is here reduced to a few lines and placed near the conclusion: “The master was open-hearted and broad-minded, and he did not apply distinctions [among kinds of people]. Those among his clan and marriage kin and his friends and old acquaintances who could not support themselves he treated as he would his own [self and family], gave them food, clothing, arranged for their marriages, and attended to their funerals and burials” 先生與人洞朗軒闢, 不施戟級. 族姻友舊不自立者, 必 待我然後衣食嫁娶喪葬.105 Huangfu makes no mention here of Han Yu’s being mocked for his behavior, nor does he return to this feature of Han’s conduct. Instead, Huangfu closes this section with a sketch of Han Yu as a scholar, teacher, and a companion at parties: In his daily life, whether retiring or eating, he always had a book; when he was fatigued, they were his pillows, and when hungry, they were food for his mouth. In lecturing and critiquing, he was tireless in order to polish his many students. I fear that he was not entirely perfect—when he went wandering, he would laugh and joke, whistle and sing, making all drunk with inspiration, so that they forgot to return home. Alas, alas! He indeed could be called a junzi who was happy and at ease, the greatest even among giants.106

105. Gao (573) suggests that 戟級 is an error for 階級. 106. Huangfu Shi refers to an ode from the Shijing, “Bluebottles,” 青蠅 (Mao 219), and the line 凱惕君子, where kaiti is glossed by Zheng Xuan as “happy, at ease” 樂易. Noted in Gao, 574. This allusion not only praises Han’s character in terms of his ability to enjoy life, it also suggests his calm in the face of slander or criticism. The entire cou-

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平居雖寢食, 未嘗去書, 怠以為枕, 飡以飴口. 講評孜孜, 以磨諸生. 恐不 完美, 游以詼笑嘯歌, 使皆醉義忘歸. 嗚呼! 可謂樂易君子, 鉅人長者矣.

Even Han Yu’s faults, such as they were, stemmed from his fondness for simple, scholarly pleasures, and Huangfu’s Odes allusion used to praise Han’s manner compensates for his admission of such genial flaws. These humanizing touches are, however, a minor element of the entombed epitaph, which intends to canonize Han for all time. The final rhymed inscription, ming 銘, of the piece offers the largest claim yet for Han Yu: “Heaven has a Way, and it resided in my Master” 維天有道, 在 我先生.107 Despite the rise in Han Yu’s reputation in the early Northern Song (which in turn would give way to criticism by Daoxue proponents), later readers had good reason to be skeptical of Huangfu Shi’s hagiographic portrait, given that so many of Han’s works survived to attest to the multifarious, more interestingly human qualities of his writing and his character.108 Fortunately, a few of the offering texts for Han Yu also survive to balance the more lofty views of the biographical and inscriptional texts and to illustrate the depth and complexity of his friendships. Like the offering texts by Liu Zongyuan, Liu Yuxi, and Bai Juyi, the offerings from Zhang Ji and Li Ao give us a more personal, fond, and even intimate view of Han Yu the person (as well as “the Master”) and the mourners’ friendships with him. Zhang Ji’s pentasyllabic text, entitled “Offering to Tuizhi” 祭退之, is a truly curious piece, a mixture of three or four different registers, topics, and genres. It contains praise for Han, mourning, recollections of travels, stories of Han’s generosity, and a narrative of Han’s deathbed days; transitions from one topic to the next are abrupt, and the tone varies considerably from section to section. Among Tang funerary texts, it is unique for its blend of political and personal detail.

plet reads: “Happy, at ease, my lord / do not believe in the slander that is uttered” 凱惕 君子, 無信讒言. Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben), vol. 5, 1025. 107. QTW 687.14a–16a; and Gao, Tang Song wen juyao, 2:569–75. 108. Noted in Gao (575), and see also Hong Mai’s criticism of Huangfu’s excessive praise in Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆, cited in Han Yu ziliao huibian (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983; 2004 rpt.), 1:355–56.

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Zhang Ji appears to borrow key themes and phrases from the inscriptional texts in his quick summary of Han’s offices, referring to the “three times” that Han was demoted as having strengthened his resolve, a paraphrase of a similar statement by Huangfu Shi in the entombed epitaph. Regarding Han’s generosity, Zhang Ji also repeats familiar praise: “If among his relatives or friends there were orphaned ones, / he would tend to their marriages” 親朋有孤稚, 婚姻有辦營. And of Han’s constancy, Zhang swears, “Just as there is a Dipper in Heaven, / he was eternally faithful. Just as the year has its spring, / the things [he did] came to their appropriate fruition” 如彼天有斗, 人可為信常. 如彼歲有春, 物宜 得華昌. Zhang Ji recounts his youthful wandering and his lucky chance of meeting Han Yu when he was still struggling and alone: “I hardly had anyone who knew me [or whom I knew], / benighted as if I traveled in fog” 略無相知人, 黯如霧中行. After being taken under Han’s wing, Zhang went to Chang’an and passed the jinshi; of the fellowship he experienced in those years, Zhang writes, “From his kindness, I made several companions, / better far than my own flesh and blood” 由慈數朋黨, 骨 肉無以當. Zhang’s description of that brief time in Bianzhou evokes the truly remarkable blend of teacher and friend that Han Yu seems to have embodied for his circle: 坐令其子拜 常呼幼時名 追招不隔日 繼踐公之堂 出則連轡馳 侵則對塌床 搜窮古今書 事事相酌量 有花必同尋 有月必同望 .... 到今三十年 曾不少異更

Sitting, he commanded his “disciples” to bow, and he always called us by our childhood names. He would call us out almost every day, and we again would kneel in the master’s hall. Going out, we would link reins and ride; When retiring, we would have facing beds. Thoroughly searching through books past and present, we would consider and assess every matter. There was no flower we did not seek together, no moon we did not gaze on together. Since then till now, it’s been thirty years, and he never once altered in the slightest.109

109. Zhang Ji ji xinian jiaozhu, 3:913–15.

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Zhang Ji concludes with a detailed portrait of Han Yu’s last days, including Han’s request that he remain at his bedside to witness his death, chief among those attending him. Unlike the inscriptional texts, Zhang Ji’s distinctive offering poem seems to have no larger objective than to record his most meaningful memories of Han, and to bid Han’s spirit a final farewell. Li Ao, in his offering text for Han Yu, is both more consistent and ambitious: he attempts to combine the hagiographic, formal register of Huangfu’s entombed epitaph with a more intimate and personal style, moving through carefully structured sections (each of which contains a separate rhyme, marked below by a space) first to praise Han’s contributions to the Way of Confucius, his literary achievements, and his official service, and only then giving an account of their friendship, Han’s kindness to Li, and concluding with Han’s illness, death, and funerary rites. On balance, however, the text is more simple narrative than grand eulogy, particularly in Li Ao’s description of their interactions, and it has a quiet lyricism that is unusual in Li’s extant corpus, which is dominated by his prose. The second half of the text traces the story of the two men’s life together and reflects on the impact of Han’s death. 貞元十二 兄佐汴州 我遊自徐 始得兄交 視我無能 待子以友 講文析道 為益之厚 二十九年 不知其久

In the twelfth year of the Zhenyuan reign, you, Elder Brother [Han], were serving in Bianzhou. When I came there from Xu[zhou], I first came to know you. You saw my lack of ability, yet treated a student like a friend; in lecturing on literature and examining the Way, you benefited both greatly. Though it has been twenty-nine years, it yet does not feel so long.

兄以疾休 我病臥室 三來視我 笑語窮日 何荒不耕 會之以一

When you had a respite from your illness, my own illness took me to bed; so you came three times to look after me; we laughed and talked the whole day. No fallow earth [of illness] could not be tilled when we met together as one.

人心樂生 皆惡言凶

In our hearts, we rejoice at birth, but hate to speak of ill fortune.

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兄之在病 則齊其終 順化以盡 靡惑於中 欲別千萬 意如不窮 臨喪大號 決裂肝胸

While in the throes of illness, you prepared for your death. According with change to the end, you had no illusions within. Though we were to be parted forever, our feelings were inexhaustible. As your burial approaches, I cry loudly, feeling torn apart and severed in body.

老聃言壽 死而不亡 兄名之垂 星斗之光 我譔兄行 下於太常 聲殫天地 誰云不長 喪車來東 我刺廬江 君命有嚴 不見君喪 遣使奠斝 百酸攪腸 音容若在 曷日而忘 嗚呼哀哉! 尚饗.

Lao Dan spoke of long life; though he died, he was not lost.110 The endurance of your name will shine like the Starry Dipper. I composed the record of your conduct, presenting it to the Court [of Imperial Sacrifice]; the sound of it filled Heaven and Earth— who could say it will not go on forever? The burial cortège came from the east, but I was serving as prefect in Lu[zhou]; the duty of my office is too exigent, and I cannot attend your burial. I send an envoy to present my libation, and a hundred sorrows assail me inside. It is as if your face and voice still remain— when will I ever forget you? Alas, alas, my grief! May you accept this offering.111

Throughout his many texts that discuss Han Yu, Li Ao praises the capacity of Han’s work to illuminate the “Way of Confucius” for his generation. Recalling Han Yu’s own attacks on both Daoism and Buddhism during his lifetime, we might find the reference to the death of Laozi (from an anecdote in the Zhuangzi) surprising. However, this allusion reflects Li’s own syncretic beliefs, attested to most fully in his

110. This is an allusion to Zhuangzi, in a passage describing a friend’s response to Laozi’s death. Zhuangzi jiaoquan, 1:111–12. 111. QTW 640.8a–b.

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“Fu xing shu” and evoked here with Li’s reference to “according with change” (shun hua 順化).112 It also expresses Li’s acceptance of death in terms that were less common in medieval offering texts (which tended to be replete with expressions of grief and sorrow) yet had long roots in the Daoist tradition. The Zhuangzi story illustrates Li Ao’s understanding of how those who were you 友 should respond to the death of friends. When Lao Dan died, Qin Shi went to mourn for him, but after wailing thrice, he immediately departed. His disciple asked, “Weren’t you a friend of the Master’s?” “Yes,” he said. “Then is this the proper way for you to mourn him?” “Indeed it is. At first I thought it would be his kind of people there, but then I saw that this was not the case. When I went in there to mourn, I saw the elders among them weeping as if for their sons, and the young among them weeping as if for their mothers. With such as these gathered there, I too would no doubt have proceeded to utter some unsought-for words and weep some unsought-for tears. But this would be to flee from the Heavenly and turn away from how things are, forgetting what one has received, which is why the ancients called such things ‘the punishment for fleeing from Heaven.’ When it came time to arrive, the master did just what the time required. When it came time to go, he followed along with the flow. [Because he was] resting content in the time and finding his place in the flow, joy and sorrow had no way to seep in. The ancients called this ‘being liberated from the lord’s bonds.’ The finger can indicate only the doings of the firewood, but meanwhile the fire has moved on, and we cannot know its end.” 老聃死, 秦失弔之, 三號而出. 弟子曰: 非夫子之友邪? 曰: 然. 然則弔焉若此, 可乎? 曰: 然. 始也, 吾以為其人也, 而今非也. 向吾入而弔焉, 有老者哭之, 如 哭其子. 少者哭之, 如哭其母. 彼其所以會之, 必有不蘄言而言, 不蘄哭而 哭者. 是遁天倍情, 忘其所受, 古者謂之遁天之刑. 適來, 夫子時也. 適

112. For Li’s syncretism, see Barrett, Li Ao, esp. 88–132; Bol, ‘This Culture of Ours,’ 137–40.

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去, 夫子順也. 安時而處順, 哀樂不能入也, 古者謂是帝之縣解. 指窮於 為薪, 火傳也, 不知其盡也.113

The kind of friendship that Qin Shi had with Lao Dan, as depicted in this anecdote, was one based on shared beliefs and attitudes, similar to the fellowship of Han Yu’s circle. Though Li Ao’s perspective on the naturalness and acceptance of death may not have been shared by others close to Han, it represents Li’s personal response to Han’s passing, an utterance that was possible in an offering text. In fulfilling his responsibilities to Han Yu upon death, Li Ao was able to speak in many voices. As a historian, he composed an account that gave full credit to Han for his character and conduct, allowing him to be appropriately dignified by the state. As an individual mourner, however, Li spoke in the voice of Han’s student, his younger relative by marriage, and ultimately his friend in the Way. In that last role, he was able to fully express his respect, sorrow, and affection to his deceased friend and to his surviving companions.

ƒ The diverse forms of posthumous commemoration and mourning in the Tang gave literati opportunities to portray the life of a dead friend and to inscribe themselves within the record of that life. Writing the story of a friend and a friendship after death was thus also an occasion to reflect on one’s own history and character, and mid-Tang writers took full advantage of the expressive potential of funerary genres to make their accounts of friends personal and compelling. Reading across these forms not only clarifies the literary and social impacts of ninth-century funerary writing, and the innovations that mid-Tang writers brought to it, but also illuminates the significance of friendship in late medieval China from new social, economic, and emotional perspectives. Just as in the relationship between parent and child, ruler and minister, husband and wife, the bonds of friendship were to be sustained after death— in memory, ritual practice, and writing. But these mid-Tang texts also 113. Zhuangzi jiaoquan, 1:111–12. Translation with modifications from Brook Ziporyn, Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings, with Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2009), 23–24.

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heralded an important new direction in funerary writing, a shift from a focus on fulfilling ritual and social conventions to a more personal, specific response to death in the setting of the most treasured bonds. The emotional, intellectual, and literary ambitions these mid-Tang writers brought to funerary texts gave what had been conservative, often formulaic genres new power and scope. Later readers would be influenced by their models and moved by their expressions of sorrow.

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n his twelfth-century miscellany, the Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆, the Song scholar Hong Mai 洪邁 (1123–1202) reflects on the conduct of friendship in the past and in his own era, looking back to the time of Confucius, the Eastern Han, and the Tang for models. “Since the Han and Tang, there have also been the fellowships between Fan [Juqing] and Zhang [Yuanbo], Chen [Yi 義] and Lei [Chong 重], Yuan [Zhen] and Bai [Juyi], Liu [Yuxi] and Liu [Zongyuan]—from birth to death, they were with one another, and they did not let death or life, wealth or poverty alter their hearts. In the first century of this dynasty, this spirit was still alive. But alas, today it is lost!” 漢唐以来, 猶有范张, 陳雷, 元白, 劉柳之徒, 始終相與, 不以 死生貴賤易其心. 本朝百年間, 此風尚存. 嗚呼, 今亡矣!1 The key value that Hong Mai finds in these models of friendship—fidelity even through hardship, changing status, and death—clearly has more than merely literary significance. Just as the mid-Tang writers did for their own relationships, Hong Mai reads these friendships as signs of the men’s moral character and possibly as windows into their historical moment. In the mid-Tang period, literati discovered many new reasons to make, sustain, and advertise their friendships in their literary work. I have here traced a few key ways that friendship changed the literature of the late eighth and early ninth centuries, linking the social practice to critical literary innovations. The utility of friendship is highly visible in mid-Tang texts, from patronage letters to prefaces for collections; at the same time, as we saw in the genres of exchange poetry, collegial letters, and funerary writing, exploring friendship in texts led many mid-Tang writers to unexpected conclusions and new styles of writing. A few con1. The full passage is entitled “Rightness in Friendship” 朋友之義. Hong opens by citing standard definitions of friendship from early texts (many of which have been discussed here), in the manner of an encyclopedia such as the Taiping yulan, and he particularly highlights the value of trust, xin, in those definitions. The comment I cite here is the conclusion to the passage. Hong Mai, Rongzhai suibi 容齋隨筆, 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui chubanshe, 1999), juan 9.

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sistent characteristics of writing about and within the context of friendship shaped discrete genres. First, the expectation of trust and sincerity in friendship established a rhetorical context for direct speaking, and at the same time it inspired writers to endow their texts with authenticity. Second, the dialogic nature of much writing about and within friendship, with poetic exchanges and letters being the exemplary forms, pushed writers to demand engaged responses from their addressees, and to question responses that differed from expectations. Finally, the intersubjective nature of friendship as these literati experienced it—as each companion influenced and helped form the other’s identity—also led writers to scrutinize and revise their own identities, and to consider how their literary and emotional responses were affected by interactions with friends. Even after the death of friends, as we saw for example in Liu Zongyuan’s offering text for Lü Wen, writers continued to confront the ways that friends had shaped their own individual histories. More significantly for later readers such as Hong Mai, mid-Tang writers also established a larger, more stable space for elite male friendship in Chinese culture. Their efforts to defend the value of friendship in multiple ways, including with terms drawn from the Confucian discourse, broadened the range of forms and meanings for male friendship in later dynasties. The decentralization of post-Rebellion elite culture and the appearance of more sites for elite social interaction outside the capital provided the historical backdrop to this development. And yet these historical changes do not fully explain the many texts that literati devoted to defining their relationships in moral and emotional terms, not merely as pleasurable or useful social connections. New writing about friendship must be seen against the backdrop of mid-Tang intellectual transformation more broadly defined. The reformist, idealistic tendencies of men like Han Yu and Li Ao, and those of more moderate men such as Quan Deyu and Bai Juyi, pushed their thinking beyond the realm of institutional or policy reform, and towards broader cultural problems. In fact, we might argue that they were all too aware of the difficulty of promoting political change even under an intelligent, relatively receptive ruler like Xianzong. Instead, in an extraordinary range of social, political, and literary contexts, they reflected on the ways that traditional principles might be renewed for their times. Defending their friendships as a mark of moral integrity became a powerful way to assert

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the continuity of their conduct and values between the “inner” and “outer” spheres they navigated in daily life. Unlike the more radical claims of late Ming defenders of friendship, however, mid-Tang literati did not conceive of their friendship circles as alternatives to the political order, but rather as complementary sources of identity. The world of the imperial bureaucracy, from the narrow gates of the examinations to the steep ladder of the nine official ranks, remained for them the chief source of status, income, and cultural value. The rise of the scholar-official class in the Song would create new social settings for friendship among elite men, and new cultural incentives for giving it prominence. Hong Mai’s respect for the friendships of elite men of the early- to mid–Northern Song was well deserved—though he does not name them, he perhaps had in mind Ouyang Xiu, Mei Yaochen, and Su Shi, among others, writers whose collections are full of poems, letters, prefaces, essays, and funerary writings to people within their wide circles of friends.2 His admiration for their mid-Tang predecessors reflects the impact that their friendships had on Chinese literary and cultural history. The mid-Tang record of friendship, as I hope I have demonstrated, was not simply an isolated literary phenomenon—for later readers, it captured an essential feature of the age.

Sameness and Difference Historically, the Chinese discourse of friendship privileged sameness over difference between friends: from the homology of species assumed in Confucius’s phrase “flock together without forming factions” (qun er bu dang 群而不黨), to the assertion of shared beliefs in the many phrases using tong 同, as in tongxin 同心, tongdao 同道, and tongzhi 同志 (whose complex history predates the twentieth century),3 the non-hierarchical 2. Hong’s reference to true friendship surviving only through the first hundred years of the Song (roughly the 1060s) also suggests that he sees the factional conflict surrounding the implementation of the New Laws as the event that destroyed “rightness in friendship” for his era. I thank Robert Hymes (pers. comm.) for this observation. 3. For some recent sociolinguistic work on this term, see Andrew Wong, “The Semantic Derogation of tongzhi: A Synchronic Perspective,” in Language and Sexual-

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relationship of one you 友 to another was meant to overcome, at least discursively, differences of status or wealth. The texts of this study have amply shown, however, that the power of friendship to invigorate mid-Tang culture often came from difference—of personalities, of opinions, and of styles. The energy of changhe verse at its best, for example, depended on the clever rebuttal, reversal, or even deflection of another poet’s intent; the struggle for reputation depended not only on allies but also on distinguishing oneself in the crowded arena of literature. However, this tension between the discourse and practice of friendship—sameness as a discursive foundation, difference in the realization of friendship—intersects other issues that lie largely outside the scope of this study. Some of these issues I have raised in passing; here I simply offer a few comments as directions for future research. Literary composition and exchange among friends, by interjecting different subjectivities into the creative process, sometimes troubled the canonical model of literary creativity, which featured a single writer responding to the circumstances of the world with literary texts. The traditional affective model is fairly simple and linear, and focuses on the individual poet rather than a circle or group, although the historical circumstances of the poet were believed to be preserved in the text. The lianju of Han Yu and Meng Jiao examined in chapter 3 (and other lianju that they composed) provide concrete examples of how the collaborative poetry of friendship could complicate the model, as the single “I” of traditional poetry was doubled or split in a polyvocal text. The question that arises in this kind of collaborative composition is, whose voice is speaking—whose zhi 志 is expressed in the text? To some extent, friendship circles sidestepped this issue by giving literati a way to “flock” and compose together in a shared (tong 同) style, thereby reproducing the canonical model in a collective form. We saw this view defended by Quan Deyu in his prefaces and in the many compositions invoking “antiquity” by Han Yu and his group. And yet, as Han Yu’s and Li Ao’s letters reveal, or Bai’s and Yuan’s “poems of matching and reply” (heda shi 和答詩)

ity: Contesting Meaning in Theory and Practice, ed. Kathryn Campbell-Kibler, Robert Podesva, Sarah Roberts, and Andrew Wong (Stanford: CSLI Publications, 2002), 161–74; and Wong, “The Reappropriation of tongzhi,” Language in Society :(2005) 34.5 763–93.

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expose, other dialogic literary forms forced writers to foreground, rebut, or otherwise incorporate voices that were distinctly not their own, whether through citation, paraphrase, or merely strong responses to another writer’s voice. This tension seems to have been the keenest in intimate friendship. As I noted in chapter 3, this quality of writing in friendship raises important questions about power and control in particular relationships and texts, but it also complicates the traditional aesthetic model by introducing intersubjectivity as a force shaping the poet’s response to the world. The polyvocality of these texts challenges our understanding of unique subjectivities that were believed to be inherent in single-authored texts, and it pushes us to develop new hermeneutic strategies for reading these layered voices. In addition to aesthetic issues, the diversity of writing created in the context of mid-Tang friendships also complicated more practical matters of medieval literary culture. Extreme difference between writers—both at the individual level and at the level of friendship dyads or circles— contributed to an atomistic literary environment, one that had no clear means for evaluating and grading (pin 品) excellence—a practice that was not only essential to examination practices but was also a longstanding feature of medieval literary culture. Even contemporary observers realized that the claims made by mid-Tang groups for the superiority of their circle’s literary talent were often mutually exclusive. As I noted briefly in chapter 1, a private historian of mid-Tang culture, Li Zhao, once suggested that the Yuanhe literary scene, with its field of strivers and parvenus, had achieved such a degree of cacophony that the period style as a whole could be labeled “strange” (guai 怪): In the Yuanhe and after, prose-writers emulated the unconventionality and weirdness of Han Yu, and emulated the bitterness and turgidity of Fan Zongshi. Those who wrote ballads emulated the fluid, carefree quality of Zhang Ji. Those who wrote shi poetry emulated the forceful vigor of Meng Jiao, the simple clarity of Bai Juyi, and the licentious richness of Yuan Zhen. All these together were called the Yuanhe style [元和體]. Generally speaking, the style of the Tianbao era valued straightforwardness, the style of the Dali era valued superficiality, the style of the Zhenyuan era valued a carefree quality, and the style of the Yuanhe valued being strange.

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元和已後, 為文筆則學奇詭于韓愈, 學苦澀于樊宗師; 歌行則學流蕩于張 籍; 詩章則學矯激于孟郊, 學淺切于白居易, 學淫靡于元稹. 俱名為元和 體. 大抵天寶之風尚黨, 大曆之風尚浮, 貞元之風尚蕩, 元和之風尚怪也.4

In his conventional approach to evaluating literary talent based on ti 體, style and/or form, Li Zhao reduces the cultural diversity of the period by sorting literati into groups headed by stylistic models and their imitators rather than circles affiliated by intellectual interests or friendship. However, his critique of style helps us see the divisiveness of literati friendship as well as its productive elements. The friendship dyads and circles may have supported unique literary and intellectual experiments, but their constituent literati were nonetheless in competition with one another—singly and as groups—for a limited pool of social and cultural capital. The struggle to be noticed through literary composition, even when pursued with like-minded companions, could thus be destructive to traditional standards simply by adding new styles and forms to the mix, thereby destabilizing the norms for assessing literary quality. From the perspective of literary history, this was an exciting development, but from the viewpoint of some ninth-century arbiters of culture, it suggested a decline, if not a crisis. The tension of sameness and difference in male friendship in the mid-Tang should also contribute to scholarship on the discourses of masculinity, heteroeroticism, and male homoeroticism in Chinese history before the Song. Although the scarcity of texts that might contribute to our understanding of those discourses in early periods is an intractable problem, theorizing the development of the friendship discourse for male elites in the medieval period should give us new perspectives on the later history of related gender discourses. The visibility of male homoeroticism in late imperial culture, as demonstrated in the scholarship of recent decades by Giovanni Vitiello, Martin Huang, Wu Cuncun, Kam Louie, Geng Song, and Bret Hinsch,5 among others, is in part a function of 4. Guo shi bu, 57. See also my discussion of Li Zhao’s perspective in “Gossip, Anecdote, and Literary History,” in Chen and Schaberg, ed., Idle Talk, 113–17. 5. Vitiello, The Libertine’s Friend; Huang, Male Friendship and also Negotiating Masculinities in Late Imperial China (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2006); Wu Cuncun, Homoerotic Sensibilities in Late Imperial China (London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004); Louie, Theorizing Chinese Masculinity; Geng Song, The Fragile

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the survival of texts from the age of printing that either would not have been produced (perhaps would have remained part of an oral tradition) or would have enjoyed limited circulation in the medieval period. In his work on romance in the late ninth-century literati community, Paul Rouzer, working with limited but illuminating sources, has explored late Tang views on the cultural significance of male homosocial bonding in the context of competition for courtesans.6 We have seen here that the display and literary teasing regarding male sexual attraction also played some role in literati friendship and the creation of a complex fengliu identity. But within the body of mid-Tang writing on male friendship, texts with heteroerotic content are rare. Aside from the genre boundaries that tended to marginalize and confine romantic writing to a small set of literary forms—primarily quatrains, “songs” of various sorts, anecdotes, and longer “tales” (chuanqi 傳奇)—mid-Tang writers also seem to have been governed by a sense of topical propriety that kept women as objects of erotic feeling outside most writing about homosocial interactions. Or perhaps if there was such a subtype of poetry or prose writing, it was not generally saved in a poet’s collection.7 Given the lack of texts from the Tang that might expand our understanding of male homoerotic feeling or conduct in the period, therefore, the midTang choice to emphasize the problems of trust and understanding—and almost never “feeling” (qing 情)—in writing about male friendship, in other words, must be considered from other perspectives. The fact that mid-Tang writing about male friendship appeared alongside a rise in a culture of heterosexual romance, as documented in poems, anecdotes, and tales from the ninth century, certainly deserves further study. As I noted in chapter 1, we find a similar coincidence of romantic and erotic writing, the “aestheticization” of friendship, and changing notions of masculinity in Southern Dynasties court culture, reminding us that these discourses were mutually informing and influential from earlier in Chinese history. In the study of the relationship between the mid-Tang culture of romance and writing on male friendScholar: Power and Masculinity in Chinese Culture (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004); Bret Hinsch, Passions of the Cut Sleeve: The Male Homosexual Tradition in China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). 6. Rouzer, Articulated Ladies, esp. 201–83. 7. On this point, see Shields, “Defining Experience.”

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ship, one important topic to examine would be the difference between the range of qing in depictions of heteroerotic relationships and the scope of zhi in male friendship. Although “one who knows me” was also “one who understands my feelings and sympathizes with me” in an emotional sense, the mid-Tang tendency to intellectualize male friendship rather than emphasize feeling or affection—except in the physical absence of the friend during long separations or after death—was perhaps a strategy to distinguish it from either heteroerotic or homoerotic relations. Other scholars have observed that in late imperial homoerotic literature the shift from male homosocial behavor as found in male friendship to male homosexual behavior was frequently marked by the appearance of hierarchy and asymmetry, where the gender inequality of the traditional heterosexual model was reinscribed, creating an older man–younger boy or “boy-girl” relationship in place of the equal friendfriend relationship.8 Given what we see in the piecemeal record of male homosexuality before the Song, it seems at least possible to speculate that this reinscription of asymmetrical gender roles in depictions of male homosexual behavior may have been longstanding in Chinese history. The emphasis on tong identity in male friendship that we see in so many mid-Tang texts and earlier, while still defining the friendship bond as one that could transcend economic or political difference, may also have been a rhetorical strategy to depict the relationship as non-sexual. Much work remains to be done to better understand these interrelated gender discourses in Chinese history before the Song, but it is clear that a more detailed history of male friendship in medieval culture will be critical to that research. Finally, as the funerary texts in chapter 5 demonstrate, writing about friendship will nuance our understanding of the balance between kinship-based and non-kin relationships in medieval Chinese society. It was not simply that many of these staunch mid-Tang defenders of friendship did not have influential family relations to further their careers; insofar as we can tell, their kinship networks past the period of early youth were

8. See Hinsch, Passions of the Cut Sleeve, 9–13, and throughout. Huang and Vitiello differ on the degree to which this was true in representations of homosexual relations in late imperial literature; see Huang, Male Friendship, 22–25, and Vitiello, The Libertine’s Friend, 24–30, and in his discussions of individual texts.

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also fragile and unreliable, at least in terms of providing financial or political support. In the case of Bai Juyi, who had close relationships with brothers and cousins, he became the de facto support for the remaining family with no senior relatives to assist him, and the same was true of Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan. We might say that friendships replaced their kinship ties in terms of instrumental support and perhaps also for emotional support as well. However, it is significant that the language they consistently employed was not familial—close friends did not, in these texts, become “brothers” (unless in the case of a new marriage tie, as we saw with Han Yu and Li Ao), but remained you 友 and zhizhe 知 者 and zhiwozhe 知我者 even after death. In this way, mid-Tang writers kept friendship distinct from other kinds of relationships, defining it as a bond formed by choice, requiring effort over a lifetime to sustain, that provided help and comfort in need, companionship and debate in literary life, and understanding across many realms of experience.

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Selected Bibliography

Abbreviations Used in the Notes HHS JTS QTW QTS XTS ZZTJ

Hou Han shu Jiu Tang shu Quan Tang wen Quan Tang shi Xin Tang shu Zizhi tongjian

Primary Sources Bai hu tong shuzheng 白虎通疏證. Edited by Chen Li 陳立 (Qing) and annotated by Wu Zeyu 吳則虞. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1994. Bai Juyi ji jianjiao 白居易集箋校. Edited by Zhu Jincheng 朱金城. 6 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1988. Changli Xiansheng ji kaoyi 昌黎先生集考異. Edited by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (Song) and annotated by Zeng Kangmei 曾抗美. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2001. Chuci buzhu 楚辭補注. Edited by Hong Xingzu 洪興祖 (Song). Taibei: Da’an chubanshe, 1995. Du shi xiang zhu 杜詩詳注. Edited by Qiu Zhao’ao 仇兆鰲. 4 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1979. Han Changli shi xinian jishi 韓昌黎詩繫年集釋. Edited by Qian Zhonglian 錢 仲聯. 2 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1984. Han Feizi jijie 韓非子集解. Edited by Wang Xianshen 王先慎 (Qing) and annotated by Zhong Zhe 鍾哲. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1998. Han Yu guwen jiaozhu huiji 韓愈古文校注彙輯. Edited by Luo Liantian 羅聯 添. 5 vols. Taibei: Guoli bianyi guan, 2003. Han Yu quanji jiaozhu 韓愈全集校注. Edited by Qu Shouyuan 屈守元 and Chang Sichun 常思春. 5 vols. Chengdu: Sichuan daxue chubanshe, 1996. Han Yu ziliao huibian 韓愈資料彙編. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983; 2004 rpt.

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Hou Han shu 後漢書. Compiled by Fan Ye 范曄 (Jin) and annotated by Chen Yangliang 陳炴良 and Li Chuanshu 李傳書. Changsha: Yue Lu shushe, 1994. Jiu Tang shu 舊唐書. Compiled by Liu Xu 劉眗 et al. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975. Liezi jishi 列子集釋. Edited by Yang Bojun 楊伯峻. Taibei: Huazheng shuju, 1987. Liu Yuxi ji jianzheng 劉禹錫集箋證. Edited by Qu Tuiyuan 瞿蛻園. 3 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1989. Liu Yuxi shiji biannian jianzhu 劉禹錫詩集編年箋注. Edited by Jiang Weisong 蔣維松 et al. Jinan: Shandong daxue chubanshe, 1997. Liu Zongyuan ji 柳宗元集. 4th ed. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2004. Lunyu jishi 論語集釋. Edited by Cheng Shude 程樹德 (Qing) and annotated by Cheng Junying 程俊英 and Jiang Jianyuan 蔣見元. 4 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1990. Meng Jiao shiji jiaozhu 孟郊詩集校注. Edited by Hua Chenzhi 華忱之. Beijing: Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1995. Mengzi zhengyi 孟子正義. Edited by Jiao Xun 焦循 (Qing) and annotated by Shen Wenzhuo 沈文倬. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987. Quan Deyu shi wen ji 權德輿詩文集. Edited by Guo Guangwei 郭廣偉. 2 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2008. Quan Tang shi 全唐詩. Compiled and edited by Peng Dingqiu 彭定求 (Qing) et al. 26 vols. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1960. Quan Tang wen 全唐文. Compiled and edited by Dong Gao 董誥 (Qing) et al. 12 vols. Rpt. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983. Quan Tang wen bu bian 全唐文補編. Edited by Chen Shangjun 陳尚君. 3 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2005. Shi ji 史記. Sima Qian 司馬遷 (Han). 4 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959. Shisanjing zhushu (zheng li ben) 十三經註疏 (整理本). Edited by Ruan Yuan 阮 元 (Qing) and annotated by Li Xueqin 李學勤 et al. 26 vols. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2000. Shuo yuan shuzheng 說苑疏證. Compiled by Liu Xiang 劉向 (Han) and annotated by Zhao Shanyi 趙善詒. Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe, 1985. Sishu jizhu 四書集注. Compiled and annotated by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (Song), edited by Chen Shuguo 陳戍國. Changsha: Yue Lu shushe, 1987. Sou shen ji, Sou shen hou ji yizhu 搜神記, 搜神後記譯注. Edited, annotated, and translated by Liu Qi 劉琦 and Liang Guofu 粱國輔. Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe, 1997. Tang guo shi bu 唐國史補. Li Zhao 李肇 (Tang). Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1979.

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Tang hui yao 唐會要. Compiled by Wang Pu 王溥 (Song) et al. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1955. Tang liu dian 唐六典. Edited and annotated by Chen Zhongfu 陳仲夫. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1992. Tang yu lin jiao zheng 唐語林校證. Compiled by Wang Dang 王黨 (Song), edited and annotated by Zhou Yinchu 周勛初. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1987. Tang zhi yan 唐摭言. Edited by Jiang Hanchun 姜漢椿. Shanghai: Shanghai shehui kexue yuan chubanshe, 2002. Wen xuan 文選. Compiled by Xiao Tong 蕭統 (Liang) and annotated by Li Shan 李善 (Tang). 6 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1985. Xian Qin Han Wei Jin Nanbei chao shi 先秦漢魏晉南北朝詩. Edited by Lu Qinli 陸欽立. 3 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983. Xin Tang shu 新唐書. Song Qi 宋祁 and Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修 (Song). Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1975. Xunzi jijie 荀子集解. Edited by Wang Xianqian 王先謙 (Qing) and annotated by Shen Xiaohuan 沈嘯寰 and Wang Xingxian 王星賢. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1988. Yiwen leiju 藝文類聚. Compiled and annotated by Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢 (Tang). 2 vols. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1982. Yuan Zhen ji biannian jianzhu 元稹集編年箋注. Edited and annotated by Yang Jun 楊軍. Xi’an: San Qin chubanshe, 2002. Yuan Zhen ji (xiuding ben) 元稹集(修訂本). Edited by Ji Qin 冀勤. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2009. Zhang Ji ji xinian jiaozhu 張籍集繫年校注. Edited by Xu Lijie 徐禮節 and Yu Shucheng 余恕誠. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2011. Zhuangzi jiaoquan 莊子校詮. Edited by Wang Shumin 王叔岷. 3 vols. Taibei: Academia Sinica, 1988. Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑. Sima Guang 司馬光 (Song). 10 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1992.

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Xu Song 徐松, comp. Dengke jikao 登科記考. Edited by Zhao Shouyan 趙守 儼. 3 vols. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984. Yan Guorong 顏國榮. Quan Deyu yanjiu 權德輿研究. Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 2006. Yan Yunxiang. The Flow of Gifts: Reciprocity and Social Networks in a Chinese Village. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui. Gifts, Favors and Banquets: The Art of Social Relationships in China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994. Yang, Xiaoshan. Metamorphosis of the Private Sphere: Gardens and Objects in Tang-Song Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003. Yao, Ping. “Cousin Marriages in Tang China (618–907).” Chinese Historical Review 18.1 (2011): 25–55. ———. “The Status of Pleasure: Courtesans and Literati Connections in T’ang China (618–907).” Journal of Women’s History 14:2 (2002): 26–53. ———. “Women’s Epitaphs in Tang China (618–907).” In Beyond Exemplar Tales: New Approaches to Chinese Women’s Lives, edited by Hu Ying and Joan Judge, 185–207. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Yu Xianhao 郁賢皓. Tang cishi kao quan bian 唐刺史考全編. Hefei: Anhui daxue chubanshe, 2000. Zhang Qinghua 張清華. Han Yu yanjiu 韓愈研究. 2 vols. Nanjing: Jiangsu jiaoyu chubanshe, 1998. Zhao Heping 趙和平. Dunhuang shuyi yanjiu 敦煌書儀研究. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2011. ———. “Dunhuang xieben ‘pengyou shuyi’ canzhe zhengli he yanjiu” 敦煌寫 本‘朋友書儀’殘者整理和研究. In Zhao, Tang Wudai shuyi yanjiu 唐五代書 儀研究. Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1995. Zhao Shugong 趙樹功. Zhongguo chidu wenxue shi 中國尺牘文學史. Shijiazhuang: Hebei renmin chubanshe, 1999. Zhao Yiwu 趙以武. Changhe shi yanjiu 唱和詩研究. Lanzhou: Gansu wenhua chubanshe, 1997. Zhao Yongjian 趙永建. “Bai Juyi ‘Qujiang’ xiliezhong de ‘dianfeng tiyan’ he rensheng yiyun” 白居易‘曲江’系列中的 ‘巔峰體驗’和人生意蘊.” Zhengzhou daxue xuebao 鄭州大學學報 34.5 (2001): 22–24. Zhou Xianglu 周相錄. Yuan Zhen nianpu xinbian 元稹年譜新編. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2004. Zhou Xiaowei 周曉薇. “Xin chutu Liu Zongyuan zuan ‘Dugu Shenshu muzhi’ kanzheng” 新出土柳宗元攥‘獨孤申叔墓志’ 勘証. Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 中國典籍與文化 3 (2002): 35–41.

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Zhou, Yiqun. Festivals, Feasts, and Gender Relations in Ancient China and Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Ziporyn, Brook, trans. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 2009.

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Index

affective model (of poetic composition), 143, 156, 333 Analects, 28, 29n4, 32n11, 34n14, 34n15, 38–41, 55, 92, 93, 114, 147, 169n79, 170n80, 226n34; specific passages from: Analects 1.1, 34, 38; Analects 1.16, 45, 99; Analects 2.2, 146n29; Analects 6.11, 247; Analects 6.27, 146n30; Analects 7.18, 225n30; Analects 7.21, 186n114; Analects 9.25, 33; Analects 11.9, 265; Analects 12.5, Analects 12.24, 34, 82, 146n28, 149n36; Analects 13.2, 104–5, 109; Analects 14.35, 200; Analects 15.22, 38, 39n28, 149n36; Analects 16.4, 39, 82, 150n40, 152, 186n114, 219 An Lushan Rebellion, 60–61, 75, 143 antiquity, 40, 100, 105, 235, 271, 277, 292, 299, 321; commitment of Han Yu and his circle to, 19, 27, 75, 78n135, 90, 107–112, 115, 171–72, 211, 229, 234, 246, 312, 316, 333; Way of, 85, 101, 241, 243, 251. See also gu Apricot Garden, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127 and n95, 133, 134, 135, 136 Aristotle, 49, 212n18 Bai Juyi, 2, 5, 6–14, 9n9, 13n15, 16–17, 17n20, 31, 73, 76n127, 81, 228, 256–57, 301, 331, 334, 338; canonization title of Wen, 317n97; celebrity of, 70, 88, 90–93, 115–31, 191; demotion of, 73, 78, 191; friendship with Yuan Zhen, 93, 95, 128; letter to Chen Jing, 67, 68n107; letter to Cui Qun, 225; letter to Yang Yuqing, 22–23, 216–23; letter of 815 to Yuan Zhen, 215; letter of 817 to Yuan Zhen, 207n11, 257–63; nostalgic exchanges with Yuan Zhen, 173–98; offering text for Cui Qun, 270; offering text and stele inscription for Li Jian, 282, 285n49; offering text

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for Yuan Zhen, 1, 268–69, 287, 301–9; poetry exchanges of, 133–38, 141, 162; theory of responsiveness in poetry, 20–21, 77–78, 153–59, 198; view of fate or destiny, 211, 223, 227n35; views of friendship, 31, 140, 143, 192–93, 205, 213, 224, 238, 308; wife of, 66n103, 215 Bai Juyi, works of: “At the Beginning of Summer...,” 129; “Grieving for a Friend,” 69 and n112; “Letter to Cui Qun,” 225; “Letter to Yang Yuqing,” 217, 218, 220, 221, 222–23; “Letter to Yuan Ninth [Zhen],” 226; “Letter to [Yuan] Weizhi,” 258–61; “Moved by Autumn at the Winding River,” 176–77; “Moved by Thinking of Old Friends,” 12–13; “Offering Text for...Yuan [Zhen],” 1, 303–5, 307; “On the Day Weizhi Arrived in Tongzhou...,” 189–90; “Poem of 100 Rhymes Sent to Weizhi in Place of a Letter,” 181–83, 184–85; “Preface to Ten Poems of Matching and Answering,” 153, 154–55, 156–57; “Presented to Director Liu...,” 134; “Sent to Weizhi,” 196; “Song of the Southeast in 100 Rhymes,” 192–94 Barrett, T. H., 100n42, 209n14, 213, 251n70, 252n71, 255n77, 311n87, 327n112 Bo Ya and Zhong Ziqi, 46n50, 47, 165, 170n83, 172, 205 boxue hongci examination, 66, 70, 89n15, 103, 119, 155n51, 275 Cao Zhi, 47n52, 168, 169n78, 171 Chang’an, 3, 20, 21, 31, 67, 68n108, 69, 71n116, 99, 106n54, 133, 134n1, 218, 224, 227, 229, 243, 245, 246, 324; assassination of Wu Yuanheng in, 191, 219–20; as center of

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examination culture, 101–3; distance of demoted officials from, 173, 202, 204, 239; as locus of fengliu activity, 72–74, 81, 86, 127–30, 171–91; nostalgia for, 192–97; population of, 94 changhe poems (poems of matching and responding), 20, 21, 136n7, 137–42, 162n63, 182n107, 205, 240, 333; collections of and prefaces to, 142–59 Chen Jing, 67, 115 Chen, Jo-shui, 3, 63n93, 64, 80n142, 174n88, 235n47, 278n28, 288, 292 chou (to respond in poetry), 132, 136n7, 137, 141, 176, 180, 186, 194 Confucius, 27, 33, 40, 45, 47n52, 85, 93, 96, 97n35, 99, 113, 114, 213, 225, 249, 330; and disciple Yan Hui, 169–72, 246–48, 276; and knowing others, 208; and Way of, 252–55, 276–77, 320, 325–26 Cui Qun (772–832), 16, 17n20, 22, 175, 197, 211, 215, 257n78, 271, 277–78, 296n66; canonization title of Wen, 317n97; letter from Bai Juyi to, 225–27; letter from Han Yu to, 228–36, 242, 243, 248, 250; offering text by Bai Juyi for, 270 Cui Zao (737–87), 92, 272 da (to reply or rebut in poetry), 21, 136n7, 137, 140–41, 154 dang (faction), 34n15, 37–40, 149n36, 332. See also pengdang Dao (the Way), 33, 114, 133, 153, 208, 209, 223, 248, 252, 253, 255, 289; wu Dao (my Way), 251 Da xue (The great learning), 21 demotion, 8, 16, 72, 164, 179, 192n128, 213, 220, 230, 257; of Bai Juyi, 77n132, 95, 154, 173n86, 191, 193, 216, 217, 220–22, 257; of Cui Qun, 229–30; of Han Yu, 95, 164, 173–75, 313, 315; of Liu Zongyuan, 79n137, 133, 203; of Shunzong-era officials, 17n21, 173, 292; of Tang Ci, 147; of Yuan Zhen, 154, 174, 186, 257 Dezong, Tang emperor, 6, 82, 86, 95, 143, 145, 148, 181n106, 230n41, 276, 278

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“Dragon and Tiger” list (of 792 jinshi exam), 70n114, 99, 103, 229 Du Fu (712–770), 112, 167, 177, 281n38 Du You (735–812), 75 Dugu Ji (725–777), 75, 76, 100, 275 Dugu Shenshu (775–802), 23, 270, 273–278 “eight marshals” (ba sima), 174 elegy, 22, 283n41, 286. See also lei epitaph, 22, 23, 103n48, 111, 267–70, 272, 288, 312, 320; by Bai Juyi for Cui Qun, 13n15; by Han Yu for Li Guan, 103n48, 111; by Han Yu for Liu Zongyuan, 11, 12, 14–17, 18, 79n137, 291n57, 296; by Han Yu for Meng Jiao, 23, 265, 278–82, 298–301; by Huangfu Shi for Han Yu, 311, 313, 317–24, 325; by Li Ao for Hou Gao, 252n71, 255n76; by Li Shangyin for Bai Juyi, 309n83; by Liu Zongyuan for Dugu Shenshu, 23, 273–78; by Quan Deyu for Tang Ci’s brother, 143n19; by Yuan Zhen for Li Jian, 282n40. See also muzhiming ersanzi (two or three friends/disciples), 92, 93n25 examinations, 7, 136, 144, 157, 158, 174, 219, 332; cohort (tongnian) identity and, 119, 121–23, 127, 131; competition of, 65, 66, 108, 114, 183; criteria for success in, 3, 7n6, 87; culture of, 64–70; failure in, 70, 80, 104, 111, 114; family background and, 63, 65, 68, 70; friendships formed during, 13, 31, 43, 74; influence on literary writing, 18, 76, 107, 117n72; officials in charge of, 84, 94n27, 106, 144, 150–52; office-holding and, 65n99, 71, 111n65; patron-seeking during, 83n1, 96–99, 105–8; Quan Deyu and, 144, 151–52; sociological impact of, 71–72; system of, 5n4, 19, 64, 76, 88n12, 116, 118; use of social networks in, 27, 61, 85–86. See also “Dragon and Tiger” list, jinshi, mingjing, shupan bacui, boxue hongci, zhiju Fan Shi (Juqing), 35, 46n49, 330 Fan Zongshi, 6, 154, 155n51, 279n30, 334 fate (ming), 211, 223, 236, 239

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Index fengliu (playboy), 120, 124, 188, 189n123, 191, 336 Geshu Heng, 122, 124, 125, 128 gong (official sphere of life) and si (personal sphere), 53, 187, 256 gu (antiquity), 27, 107–8, 171. See also antiquity Guan Zhong, 42, 45–46, 109, 200 Guo shi bu, 96, 267n5, 275, 276n24, 335n117 guwen (prose style), 78, 79n139, 89, 202, 271 Han Tai, 174n90, 277, 278, 298 Han Yu (768–824), 4, 6–8, 83, 85, 127, 144, 201, 273, 277; circle of, 19, 72–73, 88, 92, 102–4, 114–15, 161, 313–14; commitment to antiquity (gu), 75, 78, 90, 171, 208, 333; demotion, 95, 173; friendship with Cui Qun, 22, 228–39; friendship with Huangfu Shi, 317–18; friendship with Li Ao, 206, 211–12, 243–48, 325-28; friendship with Li Guan, 103, 111; friendship with Meng Jiao, 8, 166–73, 241–43, 278–82; friendship with Zhang Ji, 8, 249, 323–25; funerary texts for, 269, 309, 310–28; guwen, 78; letters to ministers, 69–70, 85n6; linked verses with Meng Jiao, 138, 159–73, 333; literary style, 80, 171–72, 202, 334; offering texts for others, 285n49; outsider position of, 19, 89, 120; promotion of Meng Jiao, 106–8, 110, 112–15; relationship with Liu Zongyuan, 10, 14–16, 18, 79n137, 207n11, 214, 249–51, 269, 291n57, 296, 298–99; reputation, 12, 88n13, 267–68, 314-15, 319, 321; social conduct, 31518, 319, 322; views of friendship, 205–6, 248, 338; views on zhiren (knowing/understanding people), 93–94, 100, 208, 210–12 Han Yu, works of: “Epitaph for Liu Zihou [Zongyuan],” 15; “Epitaph for the Master of Pure Brilliance,” 265; “Letter to Cui Qun,” 231–38; “Letter to Li Ao,” 243–47; “Letter to Meng Dongye [Jiao],” 1, 241–42; “Letter Presented to Director Lu of Ruzhou Discussing the Recommendation of Hou Xi,” 83; “Linked Verses on Dispelling

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Disquiet,” 168–70; “Linked Verses on Lodging Together,” 164–65; “Linked Verses on ‘The One I Long For,’” 166; “Poem To/ About Meng Jiao,” 106–8; “Preface Seeing off Meng Dongye,” 112–14; “Those Who Go about Together in Chang’an,” 101–2; “[Written While] Drunk, Presented to Secretary Zhang [Shu],” 159–61 Hanlin Academy, 75n124, 77, 117n73, 118n74, 127, 139, 144n23, 149, 151, 176, 181, 185, 201, 218, 225, 257n78, 261n82; Hanlin Academician (or scholar), 77, 91, 185, 188 he (to harmonize or match in poetry), 21, 128, 137–38, 141, 146, 154, 158, 176, 178–79 Heaven, 38n24, 44, 110, 114, 200, 222–24, 226, 258, 265, 305, 306, 324, 326–27; debate between Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan, 212n19, 249–50; knowledge/understanding of, 21, 209–11, 224, 228–31, 236n48, 256, 290; Liu Zongyuan’s skepticism towards, 287–92, 295; treatment of humans, 112–13, 155, 183, 235–39, 291n56; Way of, 276, 323 homosocial bonding, 31, 57, 58n81, 72, 84, 120, 193, 336–37 homoeroticism, 336–37 Hong Mai, 323n108, 330, 331, 332 Hou Gao, 22, 251, 253, 255, 256 Hou Xi, 6, 83, 89, 100, 102, 161, 285n49, 309 Hou Han shu, 34n16, 35, 37n22, 40n31 Huangfu Shi (777–ca. 830), 23, 78, 288; as author of Han Yu’s epitaphs, 269, 310–13, 317–22 hun and po (celestial and earthly) souls, 284, 293, 297, 298, 305, 306 Jingzong, Tang emperor, 315 jiao (social connections), 25, 37, 39, 52, 91, 169, 233, 308 jiaoyou (making friendships), 33, 43, 52 jiaoyou (going about together in company), 101, 102, 120 jinshi (presented scholar) examination, 7, 80, 100, 103, 104, 110n62, 114, 121, 136, 192n128, 216n21, 249, 275, 324; celebrity for graduands, 68, 119, 191; competition of,

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65–66, 108; cultural prestige of, 20, 60, 70; “Dragon and Tiger” list of, 792, 111, 229; formal ceremonies associated with, 119, 121; patron-seeking practices of, 95–101; relationship to attaining office, 66, 71, 111n65. See also examinations jiwen (offering text), 22, 267. See also offering text juejiao (severing friendships), 57 junzi (superior person), 25, 33n12, 93, 146n30, 153n47, 169n79, 209, 223, 224, 231, 234, 322 kangkai, 168, 171 Laozi (Lao Dan), 326, 327 lei (elegy), 22, 283n41, 286. See also elegy leisure, 124, 125n86, 128, 129n99, 130, 225n29. See also xian Li Ao (774–836), 6, 7, 19, 22, 102n46, 243, 282n39, 310, 320n100; account of conduct for Han Yu, 269, 311–12, 314–17; commitment to antiquity (gu), 19, 78n135, 210, 251–53, 331; friendship with Han Yu, 80, 92, 243n57, 245–48; friendship with Hou Gao, 252–55; Han Yu’s letter to, 243–48; Han Yu’s praise for, 112–13; literary style, 21, 202, 255; member of Han Yu’s circle, 23, 73, 103, 104, 114–15, 254; marriage to Han Yu’s niece, 92, 111; memorial criticizing excessive praise in accounts of conduct, 311–12; offering text for Han Yu, 323, 325–28; patron-seeking, 97–101; promotion of Meng Jiao, 109–11; Way of (wu Dao), 251, 254; zhiren (knowledge and understanding of others), 205–6, 211; Li Ao, works of: “Account of Conduct for [Han Yu],” 316–17; “Letter Recommending Those Whom I Know to Zhang [Jianfeng] of Xuzhou,” 109–10; “Memorial on Accounts of Conduct for Officials,” 311; “Offering Text for Vice-Minister of Personnel Han [Yu],” 325–26; “Preface to the Fu on Being Moved by Thoughts about My Patron,” 97–98; “Second Letter in Reply to Hou Gao,” 252–54

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Li Bai, 90, 112, 130 Li Guan (766–94), 80, 93n25, 96, 97, 99, 103, 104–6, 106n44, 109, 110, 112–14 Li Jian (d. 822), 13n15, 155, 175n90, 192, 197, 201n1, 204n7, 239, 257n78, 263, 282, 285n49 Li Jingjian (jinshi 799), 109, 275n23, 278 Li Ling and Su Wu, 48n53, 110 Li Shen (772–846), 80, 91, 192, 193n129 Liang Su (753–93), 70n114, 75–76, 89n15, 96–100, 103, 105, 106, 111, 146, 275, 309 lianju (linked verse), 21, 137, 138–42, 159–73, 333 Liezi, 45, 46 and n49, 47, 200 Li ji (Record of ritual); 42n38, 43, 44n41, 276n25, 299n71 Liu Yuxi (772–842), 6, 7, 13n16, 17, 73, 133, 134n1, 136n7, 138, 139, 162, 163n68, 270, 277, 287, 302, 303, 306, 308, 323; friendship with Bai Juyi, 8, 140, 215, 270, 277; friendship with Liu Zongyuan, 2, 8, 14, 23, 228, 263, 269, 288n52, 295; and Shunzong clique, 17, 278 Liu Yuxi, works of: “Offering Text for Liu [Zongyuan],” 296–301; “Responding to Letian’s Presentation [of a poem] beneath the Flowers at Apricot Garden,” 135 Liu Zongyuan (773–819), 3, 6, 7 8, 26–27, 68, 76n127, 81, 202–4, 302, 306, 338; demotion of, 17n21, 79, 174–75; epitaph for Dugu Shenshu by, 273–78; friendship with Liu Yuxi, 2, 14; friendship with Lü Wen, 212–13; guwen, 78, 202; Han Yu’s epitaph for, 11, 14–17, 269; letters and friendship, 228, 239, 257n78, 263; literary writing of, 80, 201; Liu Yuxi’s offering text for, 287, 295–301; offering text for Lü Wen by, 23, 269, 287–95; relationship with Han Yu, 10, 207n11, 236n48, 249–51, 307n81; views of friendship, 31, 84–86, 211, 282 Liu Zongyuan, works of: “Admonition on Teachers and Friends,” 26; “Letter to Han Yu Discussing the Office of Historian,” 250–51; “Letter to Hanlin Academician Li Jian,” 263–64; “Letter to Hanlin Academician Xiao Mian,” 202–3; “Letter to Lü

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Index [Wen] Discussing ‘Against the Sayings of the States,’” 212; “Preface Seeing off Wei [Zhongli]. . . ” 84–85; “Tomb Stele for . . . Dugu Shenshu,” 276–77 Lu Zhi (754–805), 70, 75, 96, 99, 100, 106, 275 Lü Jiong, 124, 127, 128, 186 Lü Wen (772–811), 17n21, 23, 93n26, 212, 213, 228, 269, 272, 275n23, 277, 278; offering text by Liu Zongyuan for, 287–95, 300, 301, 331 Lü shi chunqiu, 47 Luoyang, 3, 69, 121, 125, 127, 161n61, 231, 279, 304 Ma Zili, 117–18 McMullen, David, 89 Mencius, 33n11, 34n15, 97n35, 169n79, 226n33, 255. See also Mengzi Meng Jian (d. 825), 279, 282 Meng Jiao (751–814), 1, 7, 19, 26, 31, 73, 78, 83n2, 100, 140, 177, 214, 254, 255n76, 317, 334; composition of linked verse with Han Yu, 21, 138, 159–73, 333; friendship with Han Yu, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10; Han Yu’s epitaph for, 23, 265, 268, 270, 278–82; Han Yu’s letter to, 241–43; “selling” of by Han Yu, Li Guan, and Li Ao, 101–15 Meng Jiao, works of: “Examining Connections,” 25; “Linked Verses on Dispelling Disquiet,” 168; “Linked Verses on the One I Long For,” 166 Mengzi, 28, 29n4, 33, 35n16, 38n27, 40, 41, 45, 55 ming (name, reputation), 31, 100, 172 mingjing examination, 7, 66, 136 misunderstanding, 22, 48, 89, 206, 213, 239–56 Moore, Oliver, 65, 96, 118 mutual understanding (xiangzhi), 47, 75, 143, 195, 204, 219, 221, 227, 240, 248, 282. See also xiangzhi muzhiming (entombed epitaph inscription), 15, 267. See also epitaph Muzong, Tang emperor, 216n21, 313, 315 new yuefu, 20, 77, 90–91 Niu Sengru (780–848), 155–56

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nostalgia, 81; nostalgic exchanges of Yuan and Bai, 173–99 offering text, 22, 23, 92n23, 272, 283nn 41 and 43, 309–10; by Bai Juyi for Cui Qun, 270; by Bai Juyi for Li Jian, 282; by Bai Juyi for Yuan Zhen, 10, 136, 272, 301–8; by Han Yu for Liu Zongyuan, 17, 269; by Han Yu for Madame Zheng, 281n35; by Li Ao for Han Yu, 309, 313, 320n100, 325–28; by Li Hua for Xiao Yingshi, 275n21; by Liu Yuxi for Liu Zongyuan, 295–301; by Liu Yuxi for Yuan Zhen, 270; by Liu Zongyuan for Lü Wen, 272, 287–95, 331; by Quan Deyu for Tang Ci, 143n19, 145, 148; as ritual performance, 283–86. See also jiwen pailü (long regulated verse poem), 180, 181, 184, 192 Pei Du (765–839), 16, 95, 102n46, 139, 314 peng (companion), 34, 36, 43 pengdang (faction), 34n15, 39, 40, 53n69. See also dang pengyou (binome for friend), 32n10, 34, 36, 40, 53n69, 100 pronouns, usage of, 107, 243, 285n49, 301, 306 Qiu Niang, 126, 128, 190n124 Qu Boyu and Ning Wuzi, 169n80, 171, 172 Qu Yuan, 113, 179, 213 Quan Deyu (759–818), 63, 68, 92, 99n39, 139, 143, 317n97, 331; friendship with Tang Ci, 147–48; funerary texts by, 267–68; prefaces to poetry collections by, 145–53, 156, 159, 198, 333; service as chief examiner, 96, 151–52, 208 Qujiang (Winding River), 119, 197n135. See also Winding River Ru, 36n20, 53nn68–9, 99n39; Conduct of (Ru xing chapter of Li ji), 43; texts of the tradition, 18, 28, 32, 33, 40, 50, 104, 208; translation of, 29n4; values of, 100, 161n61, 172 Ruan Ji (210–63), 26n1, 35, 37, 169n76

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Shan Tao (205–83), 57, 201 shengyou (student friend or friend during life), 13, 34, 35, 229 shi (posthumous canonization title), 281, 314, 317, 320 Shi ji, 34n16, 45, 46, 165, 195n131, 200, 244n59. See also Sima Qian Shi jing (Classic of poetry), 36n21, 45, 91, 113, 147, 149, 249; “Valley Winds” (Mao 35), 146; “The Wine-millet Bends” (Mao 65), 3, 44; “Woodcutting” (Mao 165), 37, 38n24, 146 Shishuo xinyu (New account of the tales of the world), 46n50, 92 shiyou (friends by virtue of sharing the same teacher or teacher to whom one is a friend), 37 shu (letters), 21, 201–3, 208, 214–15 Shuowen jiezi, 33n13, 36 shupan bacui examination, 66, 119, 122, 126n91, 182 shuyi (etiquette manuals), 51, 240, 284n44, 285 siyou (friend until death), 35 Shunzong, Tang emperor, 14, 16n18, 17n21, 81, 82, 95n28, 133, 173, 203, 212, 250, 278, 287, 288, 292, 295 shupan bacui examination, 66, 119, 122, 126n91, 182 Sima Qian, 46nn47–48, 113. See also Shi ji siwen (shared cultural tradition), 144, 312 songxu (farewell prefaces), 9, 112 spirit path stele (shen dao bei), 22, 267, 269, 311, 312; by Huangfu Shi for Han Yu, 313, 317–22 suozhi (those whom I know), 92, 208 Tang Ci (d. 806), 143, 145; preface to collection by Quan Deyu, 145–48, 152, 159, 174, 273; offering text by Quan Deyu for, 309 Tang-Song transition, 18, 27, 55, 61, 62n89, 74n122 Tang zhi yan, 96, 221n25, 231, 278n29 tongnian (same-year graduates of an examination), 13, 125, 127, 233, 234, 239, 249n63, 268, 271, 282; as identity, 119–22, 130, 229–30

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tongxin (of like heart and mind), 24, 48, 153, 199, 352 tu (fellows; those of the same kind), 92, 102, 120, 243n57 understanding, 6, 14, 20, 22, 23, 77, 99, 100, 105, 107, 109, 124, 128, 153, 205–14; in friendship, 28, 44–47, 48n53, 53, 57, 193, 202, 204, 214–39. See also zhi wangyou (deceased friend), 18, 274, 275, 285n21, 297 Wei Chuhou, 192, 202n28, 307n81 wen (culture and literature), 34, 82, 106, 115, 144, 145, 146n28, 149, 152, 316 wenchang (arena of literature), 19, 76, 100, 333 wenzhang (literary writing), 5, 67, 76, 79, 148, 211, 255, 267 Winding River, 119, 123, 124, 125, 128, 131, 133, 135, 176, 178, 182, 184, 186. See also Qujiang Wu Yuanheng (758–815), 191, 216, 217 wulun (five normative social relations), 32 Xi Kang (223–62), 57 xian (leisure), 124, 125n86, 128, 129n99, 225n29 xian (worthies and worthiness), 46n48, 229, 230-4, 236-8, 243, 247, 250, 318 Xianzong, Tang emperor (r. 805-20), 6, 14, 61n88, 82, 151, 161n61, 198, 230n41, 313; attitude towards demoted Shunzong officials, 288; Bai Juyi’s memorial to, 77, 191; climate for literati, 75, 79, 86, 87, 95, 183, 203, 331; decree examination of 806 under, 90, 188n121; grand councilors to, 65n99, 143; Han Yu’s memorial on the Buddha bone to, 313, 315 xiangzhi (mutual understanding in friendship), 14, 28, 47, 75, 143, 199, 204, 219, 220–21, 227, 240, 248, 282 Xiao Mian (d. 842), 202, 203, 204, 228, 239, 257 xin (trust and fidelity, 11, 28, 33, 40–42, 46, 75, 109, 218, 240, 330n1, 331, 336 xingjuan (circulating literary works), 67, 96 xingzhuang (account of conduct), 269, 282n40; Li Ao’s account of Han Yu, 312–17

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Index xuan (selection) process, 65–66, 69, 116 Xuanzong, Tang emperor (r. 712–756), 61, 73 Xunyang: as first place of demotion for Bai Juyi, 192, 193, 216, 258 Xunzi, 28, 33, 34n15, 37n22, 38n27, 40, 41, 55, 84n3, 286n50 Yan Hui (disciple of Confucius), 170n80, 171, 172, 247–48, 253–54, 276 Yang Xiong (53 BCE–18 CE), 249, 316 Yang Yuqing, 22, 191n126; Bai Juyi’s letter to, 216–24, 256, 273 yi (rightness), 15, 28, 40, 42–44, 208, 252, 291, 332n2 Yi jing (Classic of changes), 133, 223; “Fellowship” (Tongren) hexagram, 149, 152, 153; “Impasse” (Kun) hexagram, 203n4 yin (hereditary protection) privilege, 65 Yiwen leiju, 36n21, 47n52, 52 you (friend and friendship): circles of, 17, 273; deceased friend (wangyou), 18, 274, 275, 285n21, 297; definitions of, 6, 27, 32–37, 40–43; “friend in prose” (wen you), 8, 140; “friends on the same Way” (dao you), 13; “Grieving for...,” 69; making friends (jiaoyou), 33, 43, 52; relationship to dang (faction), 39; as social role, 40, 46, 88, 92, 215, 238, 251, 275, 327, 333, 338; use of, 26, 84–85, 149n36 Yuan Zhen (779–831), 5, 6, 7, 13n16, 63, 66n103, 78, 134, 136, 214, 269, 270, 334; Bai Juyi’s letter of 815 to, 22, 226–27; Bai Juyi’s letter of 817 to, 227, 257–63; Bai Juyi’s offering text for, 23, 136, 272, 287, 302–9; celebrity of, 20, 88, 90–91, 93, 120–28, 181, 188, 191; changhe poetry with Bai Juyi, 21, 136n7, 140, 143; demotions of, 95, 174, 175; epitaph for Li Jian by, 282; friendship with Bai Juyi, 2, 8, 10, 193, 207n11; letter to Bai Juyi of 815, 77–78; new yuefu, 20, 77, 90-91; nostalgic exchanges with Bai Juyi, 81, 173–98; romance with “Yingying,” 5, 158, 187n117 Yuan Zhen, works by: “Poem in Response to Hanlin Academician Bai...,” 187;

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363

“Presented to Editor Lü Third,” 125–26; “Responding to Bai Letian on Apricot Garden,” 135; “Responding to [Bai] Letian’s Sighing over Exhaustion...,” 196–97; “Responding to District Defender Geshu [Heng]. . .,” 123–24; “Seeing Letian’s Poem,” 189 yuefu, 166, 167, 198; new yuefu of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, 20, 77, 90–91 Zhang Che, friend of Han Yu, 309 Zhang Hua and Lei Huan (Eastern Jin), 166n72, 167 Zhang Ji (ca. 768–830), 6, 7, 8, 21, 23, 275n23, 278n29, 317, 334; death of Han Yu and, 310; death of Meng Jiao and, 279; friend and disciple of Han Yu in life, 73, 78n135, 102–4, 109, 111, 112, 159–61, 169n77, 242; Han Yu’s recommendation for in farewell preface to Meng Jiao, 112–13; relationship to Bai Juyi, 133-34 Zhang Ji, works by: letters to Han Yu, 249; “Offering Poem for [Han] Tuizhi,” 269, 313, 314, 323–25; “Presented to Director Liu....,” 134–35 Zhang Jianfeng (734–800), 103, 104, 108–9, 111, 241 Zhang Shao (Yuanbo), 35, 46n49 Zhang Shu (758–815), 6, 159, 161, 283n43, 285n49, 309 zhi (knowledge and understanding), 11, 205, 207, 208, 337 zhiji (one who knows me; a patron), 28, 45, 47, 83, 92n23, 95, 97–100 zhiju (decree examination), 66, 119 zhiren (knowing and understanding others), 6, 45, 46, 93, 208, 210–11, 227, 230 zhiwozhe (one who knows me), 47, 81, 202, 206, 211, 213, 215, 220, 251, 255, 338; locus classicus in the Shi jing, 3, 44 zhixin (one who understands one’s heart and mind), 28, 48 zhiyin (one who understands music/a close friend), 28, 47, 165, 170n83, 171–72, 199, 205, 292n58, 297

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364 zhizhe (those who know him/one), 23, 208, 211, 273, 275, 278, 338 Zhongyong (The mean), 21, 209–11, 223, 224, 229, 231, 237

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Index Zhuangzi, 97n37, 177, 227n35, 264n86, 290n55; story of Master Yu, 293–94; story of Qin Shi at Lao Dan’s death, 326–28 Zuo zhuan, 45, 76n127

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Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series (titles now in print)

24. Population, Disease, and Land in Early Japan, 645–900, by William Wayne Farris 25. Shikitei Sanba and the Comic Tradition in Edo Fiction, by Robert W. Leutner 26. Washing Silk: The Life and Selected Poetry of Wei Chuang (834?–910), by Robin D. S. Yates 28. Tang Transformation Texts: A Study of the Buddhist Contribution to the Rise of Vernacular Fiction and Drama in China, by Victor H. Mair 30. Readings in Chinese Literary Thought, by Stephen Owen 31. Rememhering Paradise: Nativism and Nostalgia in Eighteenth-Century Japan, by Peter Nosco 33. Escape from the Wasteland: Romanticism and Realism in the Fiction of Mishima Yukio and Oe Kenzaburo, by Susan Jolliffe Napier 34. Inside a Service Trade: Studies in Contemporary Chinese Prose, by Rudolf G. Wagner 35. The Willow in Autumn: Ryutei Tanehiko, 1783–1842, by Andrew Lawrence Markus 36. The Confucian Transformation of Korea: A Study of Society and Ideology, by Martina Deuchler 37. The Korean Singer of Tales, by Marshall R. Pihl 38. Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China, by Timothy Brook 39. Word, Image, and Deed in the Life of Su Shi, by Ronald C. Egan 41. Studies in the Comic Spirit in Modern Japanese Fiction, by Joel R. Cohn 42. Wind Against the Mountain: The Crisis of Politics and Culture in Thirteenth-Century China, by Richard L. Davis 43. Powerful Relations: Kinship, Status, and the State in Sung China (960–1279), by Beverly Bossler 44. Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters, by Qian Zhongshu; selected and translated by Ronald Egan 45. Sugar and Society in China: Peasants, Technology, and the World Market, by Sucheta Mazumdar 49. Precious Volumes: An Introduction to Chinese Sectarian Scriptures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, by Daniel L. Overmyer 50. Poetry and Painting in Song China: The Subtle Art of Dissent, by Alfreda Murck 51. Evil and/or/as the Good: Omnicentrism, Intersubjectivity, and Value Paradox in Tiantai Buddhist Thought, by Brook Ziporyn 53. Articulated Ladies: Gender and the Male Community in Early Chinese Texts, by Paul Rouzer 55. Allegories of Desire: Esoteric Literary Commentaries of Medieval Japan, by Susan Blakeley Klein 56. Printing for Profit: The Commercial Publishers of Jianyang, Fujian (11th-17th Centuries), by Lucille Chia

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57. To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China, by Michael J. Puett 58. Writing and Materiality in China: Essays in Honor of Patrick Hanan, edited by Judith T. Zeitlin and Lydia H. Liu 59. Rulin waishi and Cultural Transformation in Late Imperial China, by Shang Wei 60. Words Well Put: Visions of Poetic Competence in the Chinese Tradition, by Graham Sanders 61. Householders: The Reizei Family in Japanese History, by Steven D. Carter 62. The Divine Nature of Power: Chinese Ritual Architecture at the Sacred Site of Jinci, by Tracy Miller 63. Beacon Fire and Shooting Star: The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557), by Xiaofei Tian 64. Lost Soul: “Confucianism” in Contemporary Chinese Academic Discourse, by John Makeham 65. The Sage Learning of Liu Zhi: Islamic Thought in Confucian Terms, by Sachiko Murata, William C. Chittick, and Tu Weiming 66. Through a Forest of Chancellors: Fugitive Histories in Liu Yuan’s Lingyan ge, an Illustrated Book from Seventeenth-Century Suzhou, by Anne Burkus-Chasson 67. Empire of Texts in Motion: Chinese, Korean, and Taiwanese Transculturations of Japanese Literature, by Karen Laura Thornber 68. Empire’s Twilight: Northeast Asia Under the Mongols, by David M. Robinson 69. Ancestors, Virgins, and Friars: Christianity as a Local Religion in Late Imperial China, by Eugenio Menegon 70. Manifest in Words, Written on Paper: Producing and Circulating Poetry in Tang Dynasty China, by Christopher M. B. Nugent 71. The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, by Jack W. Chen 72. Ancestral Memory in Early China, by K. E. Brashier 73. ‘Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern’: The Spatial Organization of the Song State, by Ruth Mostern 74. The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi, by Wiebke Denecke 75. Songs of Contentment and Transgression: Discharged Officials and Literati Communities in Sixteenth-Century North China, by Tian Yuan Tan 76. Ten Thousand Scrolls: Reading and Writing in the Poetics of Huang Tingjian and the Late Northern Song, by Yugen Wang 77. A Northern Alternative: Xue Xuan (1389-1464) and the Hedong School, by Khee Heong Koh 78. Visionary Journeys: Travel Writings from Early Medieval and Nineteenth-Century China, by Xiaofei Tian 79. Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan, by Hideaki Fujiki 80. Strange Eventful Histories: Identity, Performance, and Xu Wei’s Four Cries of a Gibbon, by Shiamin Kwa 81. Critics and Commentators: The Book of Poems as Classic and Literature, by Bruce Rusk

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82. Home and the World: Editing the Glorious Ming in Woodblock-Printed Books of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, by Yuming He 83. Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity, by Beverly Bossler 84. Chinese History: A New Manual, by Endymion Wilkinson 85. A Comprehensive Manchu-English Dictionary, by Jerry Norman 86. Drifting among Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Dynasty Poetry and the Problem of Literary History, by Michael Fuller 87. Martial Spectacles of the Ming Court, by David M. Robinson 88. Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900-1937, by Shengqing Wu 89. Cherishing Antiquity: The Cultural Construction of an Ancient Chinese Kingdom, by Olivia Milburn 90. The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China, by Ronald Egan 91. Public Memory in Early China, by K. E. Brashier 92. Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature, by Wai-yee Li 93. The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy, by Nicolas Tackett 94. Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination, by Tamara T. Chin 95. Shifting Stories: History, Gossip, and Lore in Narratives from Tang Dynasty China, by Sarah M. Allen 96. One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China, by Anna Shields 97. Materializing Magic Power: Chinese Popular Religion in Villages and Cities, by Wei-Ping Lin

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