Su Shi and Mount Lu

in Journeys
Author: James Hargett
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The well-known writer and statesman Su Shi (or Su Dongpo, 1037–1101) spent a good portion of his career as a government official moving from one bureaucratic appointment to another. This was not unusual, for officials in traditional China were routinely shifted from post to post, usually every two or three years, to prevent them from gaining too much power or influence in one office or place. Several of Su Shi’s appointments, however, were in fact demotions. His outspoken criticism of the reform policies of Wang Anshi (1021–85) got Su (and many of his supporters) into some very serious political trouble. The result was their removal, by political opponents, from the national political scene in the capital to posts in the provinces. On a few occasions Su Shi and his followers were able to regain power in the capital and returned – temporarily, at least – to a position of influence. Su Shi’s career as a statesman, then, followed an alternating pattern of service and exile. In his more than forty years as a government officer, Su experienced three periods of political removal: the first from 1080 to 1084 in Huangzhou (in modern Hubei Province); the second from 1094 to 1096 in Huizhou (in modern Guangdong Province); and the last from 1097 to 1100 on Hainan Island in the far south.

Journeys

The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing

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