Talk:Fu (poetry)

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Good article Fu (poetry) has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
July 19, 2012 Good article nominee Listed
WikiProject Poetry (Rated GA-class, Mid-importance)
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WikiProject China / History (Rated GA-class, Mid-importance)
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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Fu (poetry)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: MathewTownsend (talk · contribs) 22:06, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

  • I review this article!
Thanks for starting the review! I've fixed those three disambiguations.  White Whirlwind  咨  20:18, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

(more to follow)

MathewTownsend (talk) 22:06, 7 July 2012 (UTC)


It's a really interesting article and I can see that a lot of work has been but into it. But I think it's way too detailed. The subject is the fu and too much detail detracts from the subject. Perhaps some of the material could be spun off in daughter articles. I will point out some problems below and put the article on hold while you address the issues.

I've made a few copy edits that you are free to revert.[1]

MathewTownsend (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

GA review-see WP:WIAGA for criteria (and here for what they are not)

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    a. prose: clear and concise, respects copyright laws, correct spelling and grammar:
    Just one comment: "A chapter of Xunzi should it by a chapter by Xunzi, since he was the writer/philosopher?
    b. complies with MoS for lead, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation:
    lead doesn't follow lead and provide a concise summary of the article.
    lead contains repeated, somewhat contradictory info
    "Fu (Chinese: 賦), variously translated as rhapsody or poetic exposition, is a form of Chinese rhymed prose that was the dominant literary form during the Han dynasty." and
    "The fu genre came into being around the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, and were prominently used throughout the Han dynasty, Southern and Northern dynasties, and into the Tang dynasty, but died out soon thereafter."
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    a. provides references to all sources in the section(s) dedicated to footnotes/citations according to the guide to layout:
    b. provides in-line citations from reliable sources where necessary:
    c. no original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    a. it addresses the main aspects of the topic:
    b. it remains focused and does not go into unnecessary detail (see summary style):
    The TOC is unbalanced - too much on history detracts from the focus on the fu as an art form.
    There is too much detail on each of the dynasties - would be better if this could be summarized. Is it necessary to describe each one individually i.e. does that add to the understand of the fu? Or does it get caught up in history?
    There are two many digressions and descriptions of people etc. are too detailed and seem off topic
    e.g. "Cai Yong, like Zhang Heng, was a prolific writer in addition to his mathematical, astronomical, and musical interests.[16] In AD 159, Cai was summoned to Chang'an to perform on the Chinese zither for the imperial court, but became ill shortly before arriving and returned to his home."
    Could some of this material be moved to "Topics"?
    Maybe pick out some of the highlights, unusual examples, etc. but not try to systematically cover all the dynasties and so many writers in this article. Maybe move much of the specifics to a daughter article that can be more detailed.
  4. Does it follow the neutral point of view policy.
    fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    no edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    a. images are copyright tagged, and non-free images have fair use rationales:
    b. images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
  • It's a really interesting article. The quotes from fu are great. I'm putting this article on hold while you think about the comments I've made. Also, I will continue to read the article and offer any suggestions I can thing of. Best wishes, MathewTownsend (talk) 15:55, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
  • p.s. I want to emphasize that I think this article can be a GA with some judicious trimming and perhaps a little rearranging. I think the section heading should all relate more directly to fu and be way fewer in number. MathewTownsend (talk) 16:00, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the review! I've tried to fix the things you mentioned. I'm a bit hesitant to expand the lead, but I can do so if you feel it needs more than the sentence I added.
Responding to your question: "should it by a chapter by Xunzi, since he was the writer/philosopher?" No. Most of the extant texts of the various Warring States schools of thought are known simply by the honorific name of their founders, such as Xunzi, Guanzi (text), Mozi, etc.  White Whirlwind  咨  02:17, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Very, very good! You did that well. I have only a couple more comments.
  • I performed some copy edits[2]. Please fix any errors!
  • "(which later can be seen in a fully developed state with the poetry of Tao Yuanming) can be seen in the poetic works of Zhang Heng," - repetitious of "can be seen"
  • "of foreign peoples," - do people fall under "things"? (maybe so)
  • "believed to be a description of an ostrich brought to the Han court from Parthia around AD 110." - passive voice is to be avoided.
  • "However, it should be understood that" - there's a rule against telling the reader what to do - perhaps you could just remove that part of the sentence.
  • Great work! Will pass if you address these issues. MathewTownsend (talk) 23:00, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the additional input and your copy edits. The "Social Protest" section is the only section to have been written by another editor (User:Dcattell, I believe) and contained a number of errors that I didn't deal with. I removed two sentences that seemed particularly problematic.
I fixed all of your suggestions except "passive voice is to be avoided", which is just plain silly. I'm always baffled when educated English speakers display this kneejerk reaction against the English passive voice, which is an important grammatical feature of our language and has been regularly used in the highest eschelons of belles-lettres composition since the times of Beowulf. While the active voice is employed much more often, never tell someone to avoid the passive voice as long as it is used judiciously. You hear this from time to time even in undergraduate English courses in the United States, and as a linguist it drives me nuts. Sorry for the rant. Thanks for all the great suggestions and reviewing!  White Whirlwind  咨  22:55, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Avoidance of the passive voice is part of the GA criteria 1(b) words to watch - because the passive voice doesn't say who? It is weasel wording. e.g. The 21th century is considered the worst century of all. MathewTownsend (talk) 01:03, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
Reevaluation after fixes
1. Well written?: Pass Pass
2. Factually accurate?: Pass Pass
3. Broad in coverage?: Pass Pass
4. Neutral point of view?: Pass Pass
5. Article stability?: Pass Pass
6. Images?: Pass Pass

re: Social protest[edit]

It's great to see some interest in the prose-poetry of fu! I did a little work on that article, including commencing to begin to start a section on the social and political protest which is an important part in the tradition of this literature, as shown in sources like Davis, Watson, Hinton, and others . Sorry for leaving this section in a bit of a mess for so long, especially since it is important and should not be ignored. I have been planning on developing it further, mostly in terms of the historical development of the theme of criticism of political rulers and the state of society as part of fu literature. Given the existence of a History of Fu Poetry article, it might be more appropriate to relocate this section there, except perhaps some brief summary. By the way, I think it is important not to "spin off" substantial material from articles, without leaving a summary and links, in the case of the socio-political function of fu this is probably not necessary, but I think some skeletal outline of the fu's historical development is essential and necessary to the main fu article. Dcattell (talk) 00:39, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I am hoping to have a look into the literature on fu poetry so I can make more informed comments here, but I'm afraid I'm a little confused about what you're proposing, so please let me know if I've read correctly. You'd like to expand the section dealing with political criticisms as a component of the fu genre, but are not sure whether to put this in the history article or main article. Is that right? I think either (or both) are appropriate, and largely depends on whether you want to principally address the issue as part of a chronological narrative (in the history section) or as a thematic issue (in the topic on social protest). Are there other major themes that appear in fu poetry that may be of note? Homunculus (duihua) 17:49, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I wrote the comment on social protest in relationship to fu mostly in the context of improving the article for the then ongoing Good Article nomination. Political criticism, often subtle, is a major aspect of fu as well as Chinese poetry in general, with a chronological narrative, beginning at least with the Chuci. Perhaps a main article on this topic would be appropriate? Other major themes of fu include encyclopedic descriptions of exotica and eulogies on the current royal court and the emperor. Some of the possible themes may be mentioned in the Classical Chinese poetry genres article, such as huaigu (on lamenting the past). Dcattell (talk) 18:14, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Re.: Superlatives[edit]

Regarding Wikipedia protocol, use of superlatives should be considered with caution. I'm not sure why the guidelines seem to consider passive voice a greater problem. An example is the statement "Sima Xiangru is the most famous fu writer of Chinese history." Is he? Certainly sources suggest that Sima is particularly associated with the fu form of literature, and no one more so. And, who would argue his importance in the development of the fu form of literature? However, is Sima Xiangru a more famous fu writer than Li Bo, who also wrote well-known fu? And, how important is it to have a "first" or a "most famous", in a general article? Sure, sources are full of such claims; for example, "Du Fu is the most famous poet in Chinese history". But, is this superlative approach the best way to write an encyclopedia? Just saying, Dcattell (talk) 19:04, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Well put! The superlative works best when used in moderation, when it quotes or reports scholarly reputation or fame in China ("Prof Foo says..."); or when it is quantifiable ("the largest anthology"). I'd be glad to see you comb out weak superlatives or anchor them in a reliable source. Almost always there's a way to do it, though maybe you are offering a general observation not a Call to Action? Is there a guideline which we could invoke? Maybe just WP:PEACOCK? ch (talk) 19:33, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
I think most reasonable editors would agree that the superlative is unwarranted when it is demonstrably false, and warranted (within stylistic reason) when it is demonstrably true. Before offering haphazard criticism of the use of a superlative on a certain point, an editor should take the time to examine its occurrences in the sources the article cites. Case in point – in this instance, User:Dcattell has questioned the assertion that Sima Xiangru is the greatest of all the fu poets, which I find bizarre: it's like questioning whether reliable sources agree that William Shakespeare is the greatest English playwright, or that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. All of the sources cited in this article that mention Sima Xiangru, including Idema and Haft, Gong Kechang, Kenneth Ho, and Martin Kern, mention either that Sima was the greatest fu writer, perfected the genre, or established the genre of his own accord. It may indeed be wise to tone this reference down in the prose, and I will take you two at your word that this is a problem on Wikipedia (I haven't noticed it), but let's be careful of changing wording drawn directly from the major sources in the field, particularly when an editor is very well-versed in said field. If one of you wishes to suggest an alternative phrasing, now, I'd be happy to hear it. Should it be specified that it refers to the "grand fu" era itself? Or do you wish to change it to a simple reference to him establishing the fu as an independent, respectable genre in and of itself?  White Whirlwind  咨  00:02, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
The reference to Sima is sound: "Unquestionably the most famous fu poet is Sima..." (Idema & Haft p.98), but the greatest player in the history of basketball is Bill Russell. ch (talk) 06:22, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
This is a prime example of one of the most common errors I see among Wikipedia editors (User:CWH's page even discusses it in great detail): editors just make blanket statements – "the greatest player in the history of basketball is Bill Russell" – that are based on personal opinion and are not supported by the reliable sources. At best it's a form of WP:Original Research, and at worst it's, well, I don't know, but something worse. Now, as to this particular answer, the only recent work I know of that addresses this particular example in an analytic way is Simmons (2012 [2010]), and I've never heard any expert question his placement of Russell and Jordan.  White Whirlwind  咨  22:55, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Sima Xiangru was a famous poet who wrote fu. Li Tai Bo was a famous poet who wrote fu. Li Tai Bo is more famous a poet than Sima Xiangru. Therefore, Li Tai Bo is a more famous poet who wrote fu than Sima Xiangru. If Li Tai Bo is the most famous poet (as some sources suggest), then Li Tai Bo is the most famous poet who wrote fu. I'd just say "stet", but I like  White Whirlwind  咨 's suggestions. Dcattell (talk) 14:23, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
P.S. Wasn't there a time when The Great Hunt fu was Tai Bo's most famous "poem"?
So, really you're not concerned with the superlative itself, but more semantics of the sentence: you wish to be clear that Sima wasn't the most famous poet who wrote fu, since Li Baak is probably the most famous Chinese poet and has some surviving works that are descended from classical fu. I don't think many readers would make that misunderstanding unless they were very basic learners of English, but in any case a simple rewording can solve the problem.  White Whirlwind  咨  22:55, 2 August 2014 (UTC)