Coarse Cloth and Fine Brocade: Intertopicality, Lyricism, and Nature in the Poetry of Sugawara no Michizane and Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn

Mikhail Skovoronskikh

Abstract


Sugawara no Michizane 菅原道真 (845–903) and Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn 崔致遠 (857–?) share a remarkable number of traits inviting a comparison of their literary works. This study explores the two men’s poetry—the pinnacle of cultural production at the time—to shed more light on the reception of Sinitic tradition by authors hailing from the margins of the Chinese ecumene. It suggests that Michizane’s reception of Sinitic lore was idiosyncratic and, despite his purported disregard for the vernacular, strongly conditioned by the often unseen presence of the native poetic tradition. Conversely, no such presence is immediately discernible in Ch’oe Ch’iwŏn’s oeuvre. The comparative approach developed in this study casts doubt on several established notions regarding the so-called wa-kan dialectic and draws attention to similar issues in Korean literary and intellectual history that deserve more attention in English-language scholarship.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jll.2022.235



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