(also Tzuts’ai; sobriquets, Chien Chai, Sui Yüan). Born 1716 in Hangchow; died 1797 near Nanking. Chinese writer and literary theorist.
In 1748, after leaving government service, Yüan Mei devoted his life to literature. The outstanding poet of his time, he attracted a circle of talented young people. He held liberal views and was critical of Confucian orthodoxy. Yüan Mei wrote about 1,000 short stories about the supernatural (1770–96), some of which appeared under the title What Confucius Didn’t Tell Us. They reveal the influence of folklore and early narrative prose. The treatise Poems From the Garden of Leisure, written in the essay form, dealt primarily with 18th-century poetry. Yüan Mei’s conception of literature as an expression of feelings is evident in the form of his works.
REFERENCESFishman, O. “Tszi Iun’ i luan’ Mei: obshchee i osobennoe.” In the collection Teoreticheskie problemy izucheniia literatur Dal’nego Vostoka. Moscow, 1974.
Waley, A. Yüan Mei: Eighteenth Century Chinese Poet. London, 1956.
Kuo Mo-jo. Tu “Sui-yuan shihhua” chachi. Peking, 1962.