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Ch'ên Wei-sung

Ch'ên Wei-sung 陳維崧 (T. 其年 and 迦陵 Jan. 3, 1626-1682, June 12, writer, was a son of Chên Chên-hui [q.v.] and a native of I-hsing, Kiangsu. He received a good education in accordance with the family tradition, and at an early age was introduced by his father to well-known scholars of the time. Notwithstanding repeated failure from the age of sixteen to fifty-three [sui] to pass the civil service examinations, his literary ability was highly esteemed and widely recognized. He was a master of various types of composition, including the parallel or antithetical prose style in four or six characters, called p'ien-li 駢儷, and the poetic form known Tz' ǔ (詞), consisting of irregular lines disposed according to fixed patterns.Wherever he went scholars and high officials welcomed him and arranged gatherings of literary men. A contemporary, Wang Wan [q.v.], once remarked that in the p'ien-li style Ch'ên ranked higher than a nyone in the preceding seven centuries, or since the T'ang dynasty. In 1679 he passed the pecial examination known as po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ, w as made a corrector in the Hanlin Academy, and w as delegated to assist in the compilation of the official Ming history (Ming-shih), a post he held until his death.

The works of Ch'ên Wei-sung, entitled collectively, 陳迦陵集 Ch'ên Chia-ling chi, were printed by his fourth brother, Ch'ên Tsung-shih (see under Ch'ên Chên-hui). This collection included: his prose, 文集 wên-chi, 6 chüan; his writings in the p'ien-listyle, 儷體文集 li-t'i wên-chi, 12 chüan; his poems, 詩集 shih-chi, 8 chüan; and his poems in irregular meter, tz'ŭ-chi, 30 chüan. The first three items were printed in the years 1686-87, and the last in the year 1689. In 1721 there was printed a collection of his poems under the title 湖海樓詩稿 Hu-hai lou shih-kao, 10 chüan. Another edition of his collected works, entitled Hu-hai lou chi, printed in 1795, contains his poems in 20 + 1 chüan, his tz'ŭin 20 chüan, his prose in 6 chüan, and his p'ien-li in 12 chüan. Ch'ên Wei-sung owed much of his early fame in literature to his father's most intimate friend, Mao Hsiang [q.v.], for he lived many years in Mao's home at Ju-kao, studying and writing. Mao maintained a troupe of boy actors, among them a certain Hsü<> Tzŭ-yün 徐紫雲 (1644-1675) who was both talented and handsome. When Ch'ên disclosed his admiration for this actor, Mao generously placed the youth in his custody; and owing to Ch'ên's verses eulogizing his acting Hsü<> Tzŭ-yün became famous in Chinese literature. A collection of poems and short items, all dealing with this actor and written by various authors, was compiled by a modern descendant of Mao Hsiang, named Mao Kuang-shêng (see under Mao Hsiang), under the title 雲郎小史 Yün-lang hsiao-shih. It was printed in 1927 in the 雲在山房叢書 Yün-tsai shan-fang ts'ung-shu. A portrait of Ch'ên Wei-sung is reproduced in the magazine 詞學季刊 Tz'ŭ-hsüeh chi-k'an (vol. 1, no. 4, 1934), and an example of his calligraphy appears in another issueof the same magazine (vol. 2, no. 1). The portrait, reputed to have been painted by Yü<> Chih-ting [q.v.], shows Ch'ên with a luxuriant beard--a physical characteristic which earned for him the cognomen, [Ch'ên] Jan 髯, "the Bearded".

[3/117/36a; 4/45/19b; Chia-l-ing tz'ŭ, 10/12a (for date of death), 28/15a (for date of birth).]