Chinese Literati's Utopian Flight: Garden Banquets and Li Bai's Poetic Preface
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
For Chinese literati, besides the fictional utopian garden-like community, Peach Blossom Spring depicted by Tao Qian, there are two other most important actual garden events in Chinese literary history. One took place in the summer villa, the Golden Valley Garden, of the wealthy official and poet, Shi Chong (249-300), and the other, at the Orchid Pavilion gathering in 353 CE for which Wang Xizhi (309-c. 365), contributed a famous preface to the poems collected at Orchid Pavilion gathering. These two famous literary events became the model and inspiration for the later literati's artistic gathering both in real life and in literary imagination. All poets and literati when gathered in gardens, they have these two events as their reference points. This paper examines the significance of garden gathering in Chinese literati's utopian pursuits and looks at L Bai's (701-762) Spring Night, Banqueting with my Cousins in the Peach Blossom Garden: A Preface as a prime example of such a utopian flight in the garden. This poem by Li Bai has traditionally been read and taught as a poem of carpe diem theme. This paper proposes to read the poem also a Bai's utopian vision and the deliberate title he adopted as a device to evoke his vision.
Rocky Mountain MLA Annual Conference
Lai, Sufen, "Chinese Literati's Utopian Flight: Garden Banquets and Li Bai's Poetic Preface" (2011). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 222.