Shi Daonan

(1765 - 1792)

According to a biographical sketch by the scholar and statesman Hong Liangji, the poet Shi Daonan was thirty-six years old when “it happened that in the daytime strange rats appeared in the houses” of Zhaozhou, in Yunnan province, “and lying down on the ground, perished with blood spitting. There was not a man who escaped instantaneous death after being infected with the miasma.” Shi himself, wrote Hong, “died of this queer rat epidemic” a few days after composing his “masterpiece,” “Death of Rats,” considered the earliest definitive testimony of bubonic plague in China.

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