Solitary culture has been part of Chinese essential cultures since Early Chin Dynasty. As solitaries from before have grown many differences that contain different backgrounds, such as academic fashions, civil economics, political condition, social environment, religious belief, and cultural definition of that dynasty, as well as different personality and temperament. Solitaries have lived up diversified values within regions such as moral cultivation, aesthetic value, knowledge propagation, and academic research in their time. Hence, solitaries have always been spotlights, to be admired of, of their time and succeeding dynasties for their thoughts, behaviors, and personality as regards to affect entire Chinese history and cultural development, despite the fact that they are the type of people that are unconcerned about others’ perspectives towards them and are also unattached to central cultures of their time.
Tao Yuan Ming has been the most influential solitary of all times. He was born in chaotic time by the end of Wei, Jin and Northern Dynasties. He was depressed for helpless feeling to contribute to the political situation; while at the same time, he was largely influenced by Metaphysics trends, unattached thoughts for central fashions. Due to his living philosophy towards simplicity, unselfishness, and nature-loving, he has lived his life fully under cultivation of poetry, wine, music, books, nature, and family, and has created his own unique style of writing. He is also known as “Ancestor of Solitary Poets.” His works are excellent for his unattached attitudes towards mainstream cultures and are also filled with philosophy of nature and leisure. Viewing his works, they lead readers to a higher level of aesthetics between poetry and life for nearly vivid scenes he created for these works. Hence, solitary culture is no longer a chapter of laments. It demonstrates creativity and spirit of living aesthetics. His creative poetry with such artistic beauty has not only led a creative thinking of aesthetics in poetry, his simple and unselfish personality has also been greatly admired.
This study, “The Study of the Spirit of Solitude and Tao Yuan Ming,” has first described all kinds of solitary cultures in Chinese cultural history and then further discussed influences of solitary cultures as regards to entire Chinese history and cultural development. Then it also discusses motives for Tao Yuan Ming to choose being a solitary and his actual life style as being a solitary. The type of life he was choosing has developed different kinds of aesthetical feelings that help his creativity. Finally this study introduces Tao Yuan Ming’s ideal and uniqueness for the type of life he was after. Of Chinese solitary culture history, Tao Yuan Ming has not only advanced a higher level in solitary culture for his time and preceding dynasties, he also initiates a supreme example for succeeding generations. He is well deserved for the name, “Ancestor of Solitary Poets.” This study contains six chapters:
Chapter 1: Introduction, which defines research motives, methods, concepts, and expectations.
Chapter 2: Defining and explaining “solitary.” It analyzes the source and causes, its established format and incurring values. Viewing historic books, with further compilation and investigation, it displays all aspects of solitary styles in Chinese cultural history.
Chapter 3: Interpreting reasons for Tao Yuan Ming to be a solitary. Reasons include chaotic political issues, interactive influences of solitary fashions of Wei, Jin and Northern Dynasties, solitary culture, personal character, and family issues.
Chapter 4: Introducing Tao Yuan Ming’s daily lives, which include farming, historic sight seeing, drinking wine, playing with instruments, reading in a natural environment, writing, and gathering with family and friends. All of previous activities present different aesthetic atmosphere for writing.
Chapter 5: Contains four chapters, which include quiet and nature-oriented character mix, unattached attitude towards mainstream culture, poets of solitary-type aesthetics, and nature-oriented simplicity grown from farming life. These life experiences originate uniqueness and ideal of Tao Yuan Ming’s works that have founded an esthetical model for Wei, Jin and Northern Dynasties fashions.
Chapter 6: Conclusion, which delves into Tao Yuan Ming’s unique and ideal style as a solitary. He has pervaded solitary life with fresh and sincere atmosphere, which combine with imaginative pictures in his works as being a farmer. It guides an insurmountable chapter in Chinese literature.