Exile to Manchuria in the early Qing (1644–1912) is a peculiar historical, political, and cultural phenomenon whose scale and scope are unprecedented in premodern Chinese history. Among the exiles were some very accomplished writers who continued to write in the places of banishment, and their treatment of the trope of exile and exilic experiences in poems and prose writings is worthy of serious study. This article is a study of the exilic writings of the especially important yet understudied poet Fang Xiaobiao (1618–?), who in the wake of the examination scandal of 1657 was exiled to Ningguta 寧古塔, a remote town close to the borders of then Chosŏn Korea. The author conducts close readings of a series of poems titled “Miscellaneous Poems on the Eastern Journey” (Dongzheng zayong), written by Fang on his journey to Ningguta. The author studies not the historicity and historization of the actual exile event per se but, rather, the literary, aesthetic, and psychological representations of the exilic condition, to address the following questions: How is the uncanny psychic condition of the exile embedded in, and therefore reflected by, the literary and aesthetic configurations of the texts? How does the liminality of the exilic world interact with the liminality of exilic language? How do we understand and describe this “inbetweenness” historically, philosophically, and literarily? From these perspectives the author situates and fathoms the figure and voice of the exile turned poet, or poet turned exile. We can also see from these perspectives that the exiles are bound to encounter the “other” in the foreign landscapes, in the cultural and linguistic differences, and no less in the humbling experiences of themselves and their body and in the troubled subjectivity of the self.

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