Thickets of Poetic Criticism


The author Hu Yinglin (1551–1602) was one of the most prominent scholars of the late Ming period. His contributions cover a wide range of fields, such as historiography, literary criticism of novels and poetry, philology, and bibliography. Of the more than 1,000 writings attributed to him, only about 200 have survived, and among these the two best-known works are the Shaoshishanfang bi cong (Notes from Shaoshishan Studio) on history, philology, and literature, and this work, Shi sou (Thickets of poetic criticism), on poetry. Consisting of 20 sections, the work is divided into four parts, of which the first is nei bian (inner chapters), in six juan, with entries on so-called “ancient-style” and “modern style” verse. Then come wai bian (outer chapters), in six juan, discussing poetry chronologically from the Zhou dynasty to the Yuan. The za bian (miscellaneous chapters), in six juan, include anecdotes, and xu bian (supplemental chapters), in two juan, cover the Ming dynasty. The exact publication date is unknown, but the work possibly was printed before or around 1590. Various editions circulated in China, Japan, and Korea. The intention was to produce a systematic account of poetry from the Zhou and Han through the Ming, with discussions of major poets, line types, and genres, and expositions by Hu Yinglin on poetry, essays, fiction, and drama. The work also was supposed to demonstrate how the famed Seven Poets of Ming represented the efforts of fu gu (revival of antiquity). It includes a preface by the famed dramatist Wang Daokun (1525–93). The book was printed with Korean bronze moveable type.

Last updated: January 3, 2018