王國維 (1877 - 1927)
Wang Guowei (1877 - 1927)
A prestigious writer of lyrical poetry and scholar of classical Chinese writings; also named Wang Jing’an, Wang Boyu, Wang Guantang and Wang Yongguan. Born in Haining, Zhejiang province. Wang Guowei entered Hangzhou Chongwen College at the age of 16. At 17, he passed the imperial examination at the county level. In 1898, he went to Shanghai where he worked as a clerk and the proof-reader of Current Affairs, and enriched himself in New Learning and Western Learning. In 1901, with the financial support of Luo Zhenyu, he went to Japan to study in the Tokyo Physics School, where he studied English and Mathematics. In the following year, he fell ill and had to return to Shanghai. In the several years that followed, he started reading up on continental philosophy, the history of philosophy, sociology and psychology. The works of Emmanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer were of particular interest to him. In 1906, he went to Beijing, devoting himself to the studies of the lyrics of the Song Dynasty and the verses of the Yuan Dynasty. Since 1907, he took up a series of scholastic posts in the Manchurian Court. With the outbreak of the 1911 Revolution, he moved to Kyoto with Luo Zhenyu to stay away from the conflict. He devoted himself to the studies of ancient oracle-bone scriptures (of Shang Dynasty), and ancient inscriptions on bronze and on bamboo (of Han Dynasty). In 1916, he returned to China to edit the journal Academic Library. In 1922, he worked as the correspondent supervisor in Peking University. In 1923, he was summoned to work in the Forbidden City. In 1925, he became a professor of the College of Literature in Tsinghua University.
Wang produced a good number of scholastic works throughout his lifetime. His monograph On Lyrical Poetry was a ground-breaking piece of work, well-known for its pioneering use of Western aesthetic theories in its critique of Chinese poetry and lyrical poetry. It won high acclaims in the academia. In 1927, he ended his life at the age of 50 by jumping into the lake of Kunming in the Summer Palace of Beijing.