The Creation of a “Virtual Reality” in a Song Dynasty Letter


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Essay #: 057930
Total text length is 9,250 characters (approximately 6.4 pages).

Excerpts from the Paper

The beginning:
The Creation of a “Virtual Reality” in a Song Dynasty Letter
The Song dynasty prose work by Bo Ju-yi (772-846) – “Letter to Yuan Zhen (Yuan Wei-zhi)” – is particularly interesting from a 21st century perspective given the author’s key literary objective: the creation, in his correspondent’s consciousness, of the reality of the author – his visual impressions, thoughts and feelings – via a written text. While the epistolary (letter writing) tradition seems alien in an era of condensed e-mails, texts and tweets, the objective of Bo Ju-yi in this letter appears strikingly modern. This essay will examine this text, its elements and strategies, in arguing the thesis that among the fascinating aspects of “Letter to Yuan Zhen” is its author’s...
The end:
In this analysis, Bo Ju-yi’s “Letter to Yuan Zhen” is carefully crafted with several interlocking strategies to achieve diverse purposes. Perhaps the most striking of these is the attempt to create a “virtual reality” of the author’s experience at the moment of writing in the mind of his correspondent. In an attempt to make his correspondent understand exactly how he feels at the moment of writing, Bo Ju-yi may be seen to be attempting to repair a frayed connection through an intensely powerful vicarious reflection of an author’s sensory impressions of a moment, and his corresponding thoughts, in written form.
Owen, Stephen (Ed. & Trans.). An Anthology of Chinese Literature:
Beginnings to 1911. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996.