ABSTRACT

From antiquity, the Confucian tradition has revered the eloquence of its scholar-officials. Equally, their governments have feared the moral and political censure contained in their poetry and prose; the usual response to such literary protest has been banishment, as an attempt to silence critical opinion. This pattern has created an extensive tradition of East Asian literature written in and about exile, one that continues to denounce corruption and injustice. This chapter will survey the premodern context of these literati-as-critics and their significance in cultures where Confucianism set the model for society and intellectual life, as well as several modern authors who continue this tradition of the literature of exile, both those expelled from their homelands and those who chose to exile themselves as a response to political and cultural repression. This tradition also demonstrates an increasing awareness of intellectual space across the region, as exiles examine injustice and oppression not only within their own nations, but from the vantage of other nations and cultures within the Pacific Basin.