Metaphysical and Mid-Late Tang Poetry: A Baroque Comparison

by Pengfei Wang

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This book will be useful to scholars on poetry and translation, college students, and common readers from the English-speaking world. Its new perspectives on poetic baroque style and allegory will enrich the discourse on poetry. Its insightful comparison of translations will inspire further studies. Its detailed explanation of the sophisticated conceits used by both group of poets will be instrumental to college students in the field. Besides, for common readers who barely read about pre-modern Chinese poets, the biographical details in Chapter 2 will be a smart key for understanding Chinese poems in historical and authorial contexts.

Dr. Xiaowen Xu
Instructor of Chinese Applied Linguistics, Chinese Language, Literature, and Translation
Faculty of Arts | Asian Studies
The University of British Columbia

Building on the pioneering work of James. J. Y. Liu and Tak-wai Wong, Dr. Wang argues that the Baroque as a literary style exists in different periods across countries. He examines Baroque elements first in English metaphysical poetry and then in Chinese mid-late Tang poetry. Comparing different translations of three important poets in mid-late Tang Dynasty, he breaks the traditional understanding of the Baroque in literary scholarship, explores how this concept can shed new lights into Chinese poetics, enriches comparative studies of Chinese and English poetry, and establishes a new analytical angle in the research on traditional poetry.

Dr. Alice Zeng
Polaris College Counseling, USA

Pengfei Wang's new book Metaphysical and Mid-Late Tang Poetry: A Baroque Comparison provides a fascinating discussion into an insightful topic. It represents a bold endeavor to explore the new possibilities of both classical Chinese poetry and the Baroque tradition. Drawing on the ancient Chinese poetic tradition and the European Baroque art, Pengfei Wang rereads different translations of the poems of three most talented Tang poets side by side. His reading provides not only an exciting new approach to cross-cultural comparative study but also a careful and powerful articulation of the vitality of ancient Chinese poetry and the Baroque art. 

Dr. Wenjuan Xie
Nanjing Normal University, China

Wishing to expand on the minimal scholarship on the topic of Metaphysical and Mid-Late Tang poets under the general category of Baroque, this book offers a comparative analysis of poems from the Metaphysical poets John Donne, Andrew Marvell and Richard Crashaw and a selection of Tang poetry by Meng Jiao, Li He and Li Shangyin. By following Nietzche’s definition of Baroque as a poetic “style” found in any period and country, and the concept of art as allegory, the author approaches the analysis of these poems using allegorical reading.

The application of this non-traditional method of investigation and analysis has produced ground-breaking implications in the area of literary criticism, paving the way for future additions to the growing body of work on Baroque poetry. Therefore, it is likely to hold great appeal to literature researchers and scholars, as well as those studying Tang poetry, Metaphysical poetry and Comparative Studies.


Foreword by Massimo Verdicchio
University of Alberta

Introduction:Toward Redefining Chinese Baroque Poetry through Comparison

Chapter 1 English Metaphysical poetry
John Donne: The Erotic and the Divine
Andrew Marvell: Eros and Thanatos
Richard Crashaw: Eros and Ecstasy

Chapter 2 Mid-Late Tang Baroque Poetry
Meng Jiao: Benjaminian Allegory
Li He: Irony and the Lyric
Li Shangyin: Allusion as Disruption

Chapter 3 Metaphysical and Mid-Late Tang Conceits
The Conceits in English Metaphysical Poetry
The Conceits in Mid-Late Tang Poetry

Works Cited


Pengfei Wang received an MA in Traditional Chinese Literature from East China Normal University and later earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Alberta. His expertise lies in mid-late Tang poetry and metaphysical poetry, including comparative studies of the two. Pengfei’s research interests cover a range of subject areas including international studies on Buddhism and Taoism, international traditional Chinese studies, as well as the poetry and society of medieval China and pre-modern England.

English Metaphysical Poetry, Mid-Late Tang Poetry, Baroque, Comparison, Allegory