The Condition of Music and Anglophone Influences in the Poetry of Shao Xunmei

by Tian Jin (University of Edinburgh)

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This is highly original and worthwhile research. Shao Xunmei is an absolutely fascinating character on the Shanghai literary scene, and there is not much research on him. This book makes a significant contribution in that regard. It is good and solid scholarship.

Dr Christopher Rosenmeier
Asian Studies, School of Literatures

Tian Jin has identified a fascinating topic. Very little is known in the West about Shao Xunmei or about his engagement with Western writing. The book contributes to our understanding of the influence and international reception of three Anglophone writers, Swinburne, Sitwell and Moore. The evocative translations by the author vividly bring Shao’s poetry before anglophone readers and are a major attraction of the book. It will be of particular appeal to scholars of Chinese poetry and to those engaged in interdisciplinary research on literature and music.

Dr Delia Da Sousa Correa
The Open University

This book examines the unique poetics of Shao Xunmei 邵洵美 (1906-1968), a Chinese poet who has long been marginalized by contemporary criticism. Shao aspires to reach the condition of music in poetry, which bears a resemblance to three Anglophone writers whom he applauds: Algernon Charles Swinburne, Edith Sitwell, and George Augustus Moore. The Condition of Music and Anglophone Influences in the Poetry of Shao Xunmei investigates how these three writers influenced Shao, and how this inspiration helped shape his idea of the condition of music in poetry.
In the scope of world literature, this book aims to fill a small but important puzzle piece in the global network of literary influence. In a world where cultural exchanges have become increasingly frequent and convenient, and at a time when counter-globalization seems to burgeon into a hazardous trend, it is beneficial to look back to the 1920s-1930s, a time that is as equally tumultuous as today, to examine the global influence network that has taken us where we are, and to understand that in the dynamic of literary influence, no single piece of literature can have its significance alone.
This groundbreaking book will benefit the scholarship of Shao and contribute to the relevant research in Chinese studies and word and music studies. Therefore, it will be of great use and interest to researchers of comparative literature, Chinese literature, and world literature, as well as scholars of word and music studies.

Preface By Peter Dayan

0.1 A short biography of Shao Xunmei
0.2 Shao and Western poetry
0.3 Shao and Anglophone influences
0.4 Shao and music
0.5 A feminist approach
0.6 Translation policy

Chapter 1 Shao, Swinburne and the idea of harmony
1.1 The gathering of Shao, Sappho and Swinburne
1.1.1 Shao’s encounter with Sappho
1.1.2 From Sappho to Swinburne
1.1.3 A poet in the making
1.2 Harmony as a condition of music in poetry
1.2.1 Swinburne’s conception of harmony
1.2.2 The nightingale as a symbol of harmony
1.2.3 A shared practice: the merging of Sappho and the nightingale

Chapter 2 Shao, Sitwell and “the sister of horticulture”
2.1 Poetry as “the sister of horticulture”
2.1.1 Sitwell’s conception of “the sister of horticulture”
2.1.2 Texture and jili 肌理
2.2 The horticulture of musical sisters
2.2.1 The flower as musical woman
2.2.2 Sexual consummation as a condition of music
2.2.3 Garden, sexual ecstasy and possible biblical influence
2.2.4 The instrumentalisation of woman’s body

Chapter 3 Shao, Moore and the idea of pure poetry
3.1 Shao and Moore in dialogue
3.1.1 Shao’s correspondence with Moore
3.1.2 Moore’s conception of pure poetry
3.2 The dialogic of pure poetry
3.2.1 Prose poetry and the use of dialogic
3.2.2 Pure poetry as the unity of arts


Tian Jin received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He holds an MSc in Literature and Society from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in English from Sun Yat-sen University. Jin’s current research interests lie in the fields of Chinese republican poetry, late Victorian and early modernist English poetry, and the intercorrelations among them.

Feminist skepticism, instrumentalization, unity of arts

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Condition of Music and Anglophone Influences in the Poetry of Shao Xunmei





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date
October 2020