Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Li Ê

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LI Ê 厲鶚 (T. 太鴻, H. 樊榭), June 16, 1692–1752, Oct. 17, man of letters, was a native of Ch'ien-t'ang (Hangchow). He belonged to a poor family and his father died when Li Ê was young. His elder brother sold tobacco to make a living. For a period of five years, beginning in 1714, he taught the two brothers, Wang Hang 汪沆 (T. 師李, 西灝, 槐塘, b. 1704) and Wang P'u 汪浦, who also lived in Hangchow. In 1720 he became a chü-jên, and in 1731 was invited to participate in the compilation of the 西湖志 Hsi-hu chih, a history of the West Lake region, which was completed in 1734. Ch'êng Yüan-chang 程元章 (T. 冠文, H. 恆齋, chin-shih of 1721, d. 1767), then governor of Chekiang, recommended him as a competitor in the po-hsüeh hung-tz'ŭ examination of 1736, but owing to an error in the arrangement of his paper, he failed to pass. Again in 1748 he set out for the capital, hoping to be selected to serve as a magistrate. He stopped, however, at Tientsin in the home of Cha Wei-jên (see under Cha Li) and was so attracted by the literary gatherings in the latter's villa, Shui-hsi chuang 水西莊, that he proceeded no farther. Several months later he returned south. When Emperor Kao-tsung made his tour of South China in 1751, Li Ê and Wu Ch'êng 吳城 (T. 敦復, H. 鷗亭) submitted to him two pieces of dramatic verse, entitled 迎鑾新曲 Ying-luan hsin-ch'ü, which they jointly composed for the occasion.

Several times Li Ê enjoyed the hospitality of the Ma brothers (see under Ma Yüeh-kuan) of Yangchow, and at least the two following works were compiled primarily in the Ma family library: 宋詩紀事 Sung-shih chi-shih, in 100 chüan, anecdotes about poems of the Sung dynasty and their authors, of which Ma Yüeh-kuan is listed as co-compiler; and 遼史拾遺 Liao-shih shih-i, in 24 chüan, a supplement to the official history of the Liao dynasty (907–1211 A.D.). The former was first printed in 1746, the latter can be found in the Kuang-ya ts'ung-shu (see under Chang Chih-tung). Li Ê also wrote a biographical work on the court painters of the southern Sung period, entitled 南宋院畫錄 Nan-Sung yüan-hua lu, in 8 chüan, which is included in the Wu-lin chang-ku ts'ung-pien (see under Ting Ping). His collected literary works, entitled 樊榭山房集 Fan-hsieh shan-fang chi, consisting of prose, poetry, tz'ŭ (詞), and ch'ü (曲), making a total of 40 chüan, were printed in 1884 by Wang Tsêng-wei (see under Wang Hsien). The Imperial Catalogue gives notice to eight of his works of which all but one were copied into the Ssŭ-k'u Manuscript Library (for both see under Chi Yün). Li Ê was one of the prominent literary figures of his time, particularly in the field of poetry. His writing is characterized by originality, and by freedom from the standards set by Wang Shih-chên and Chu I-tsun [qq. v.] in the preceding generation.


[1/490/2a; 3/434/35a; 4/141/3a; 20/2/00 (portrait); 31/5/5a; Hang-chou-fu chih (1922) 145/28b; Lu Ch'ien-chih 陸謙祉, 厲樊榭年譜 Li Fan-hsieh nien-p'u (1936).]

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