Wang Anshi (Wang An-shih) 1021-1086

Politician, poet and prose writer of the Northern Song dynasty. Wang subscribed to a utilitarian view of literature, the function of which was to improve society. His prose writings, which include letters, memorials to the emperor, funerary inscriptions and descriptions of social activities, are admired for their close reasoning and simple, fluent language. Wang wrote more than 1500 poems, the majority of which are shi. Generally he opposed the emphasis on diction and technical flourish then fashionable with naturalness and readability. Much of his early verse could be described as protest poetry, while his later poetry has been favourably compared to that of Du Fu. As a politican, Wang is best known as the Minister who promoted the New Regulatory System, a series of highly controversial reforms.