This article ventures a new approach to capture the subtlety of the shi/ci distinctions by reading and comparing the representation of space in shi and ci, an approach that avoids traditional Chinese impressionism, on the one hand, and superficial Western formalism, on the other. The author focuses on two basic loci of “private” space as represented in shi and ci, the boudoir and garden—one sexualized, forbidden, and private, and the other natural, culturally sanctioned, and constructed, but also private in certain ways regarding ownership. These two major categories alone, though not sufficient to cover the entire spectrum of the ci space, could provide a meaningful framework to show how the generic qualities of ci are most sharply and immediately distinguished as effects of a lyrical construction of certain “private” space.

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