The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry : From Ancient to Contemporary, The Full 3000-Year Tradition
Unmatched in scope and literary quality,The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetryspans three thousand years, bringing together more than six hundred poems by more than one hundred thirty poets, in translations-many new and exclusive to the book-by an array of distinguished translators. Here is the grand sweep of Chinese poetry, from theBook of Songs-ancient folk songs said to have been collected by Confucius himself-and Laozi'sDao De Jingto the vividly pictorial verse of Wang Wei, the romanticism of Li Po, the technical brilliance of Tu Fu, and all the way up to the twentieth-century poetry of Mao Zedong and the post-Cultural Revolution verse of the Misty poets. Encompassing the spiritual, philosophical, political, mystical, and erotic strains that have emerged over millennia, this broadly representative selection also includes a preface on the art of translation, a general introduction to Chinese poetic form, biographical headnotes for each of the poets, and concise essays on the dynasties that structure the book. A landmark anthology,The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetrycaptures with impressive range and depth the essence of China's illustrious poetic tradition.
This small book accounts for most of Chinese poetry, from the 12th century B.C.E. to the present. Some 40 pages are devoted to an excellent description of Chinese prosody, although some discussion of ancient meter will be lost on those who do not know Chinese. Helpful indexes and tables give the alternate spellings in different transliteration systems (Tu Fu is Du Fu; Mao Tse-tung is Mao Zedong). The chronologically sequenced translations begin with the Zhou dynasty (1122-256 B.C.E.) and continue through the present, with each dynasty and poet introduced with historical background and biographies. More than 1000 poems by 125 poets are included. Many of the poems are translated by editors Barnstone (creative writing & American literature, Whittier Coll.) and Ping (Coll. of Wooster), with others by well-known translators such as Mabel Lee and Burton Watson, as well as earlier translators Willis Barnstone and Arthur Waley. This monumental work should be in all public and academic libraries.-Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
February 07, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry by Tony Barnstone
ZHOU DYNASTY (1122-256 BCE) Though Chinese civilization stretches back to Neolithic times, the earliest known dynasty, the Xia, is of limited importance to a discussion of Chinese literature, as there is no evidence that a written language was in use. The succeeding dynasty, the Shang, was a Bronze Age agricultural civilization. During the Shang, characters were written on oracle bones (usually made of turtle shell or cattle shoulder bones, and later on bamboo strips, silk, and bronze), but no literature from this time is extant. The Shang were overthrown by the king of Zhou, a small dependent nation in the Wei River Valley in the western Shang territory, and thus began the Zhou dynasty, the first great period of Chinese literature. It was during the Zhou dynasty that the doctrine that the Chinese King was exercising a "Mandate of Heaven" in his rule developed. It later became an extremely important doctrine both to justify imperial rule and to explain the fall of an empire (should an emperor prove corrupt or weak, heaven would remove his mandate). The Zhou dynasty is the longest of China's many dynasties, and is divided into the Western Zhou (1122-771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou (771-256 BCE), as the Zhou were forced out of their capital at Xian by barbarian invaders from the north, and moved east to found their new capital in Luoyang. The Eastern Zhou is itself subdivided into the Spring and Autumn Period (771-481 BCE) and the Warring States Period (463-221 BCE). The troubled Warring States Period marked the waning years of the dynasty. Such great thinkers, moralists, and philosophers as Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, and Zhuangzi lived during the Eastern Zhou. It was the time of the Hundred Schools of Thought, the golden age of Chinese philosophy, when the great traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, Militarism, and Mohism developed. In this period, itinerant thinkers traveled with their followers, finding employment with rulers, who would seek their advice on warfare, morality, diplomacy, and government. The Zhou dynasty eventually weakened to the point where it ruled only in name, as seven powerful warring states vied for dominance. In 221 BCE, the ruler of a western state emerged triumphant from the ongoing warfare and unified China, naming himself Shi Huangdi (the "first emperor") and beginning the Qin dynasty. After eight hundred years, heaven had removed its mandate from the Zhou at last. The three Zhou dynasty texts presented here are the source of Chinese poetic literature, evolving out of the beginnings of Chinese writing, and foreshadowing what was to come in this extraordinary three thousand year tradition. Chinese poetry begins with the Book of Songs, comprised of folk songs, hymns, and court songs collected largely from ordinary people living along the Yellow River, and putatively edited by Confucius himself (thus the collection is sometimes referred to as the Confucian Odes). The fact that the Chinese poetic tradition begins with folk poetry reworked and set to music has meant that the long tradition of Chinese poetry written by the nobility has often striven for a sense of folk authenticity to blend with the master poet's craft and skill, simplicity balancing elegance. The four-character verses in the Book of Songs are the model for shi poetry, whose variations came to dominate classical Chinese poetry for the next two thousand years. The Book of Songs is one of the Confucian classics, studied throughout Chinese history by the nobility and by those who wished to rise in society as scholar-officials. Poetry is held to be one of the great arts that educated Chinese men (and sometimes women) should know and be able to practice. In fact, poetry has been in the mainstream of literary expression in Chinese literature, and so it is often afforded great powers of influence in the Chinese critical tradition. The "Great Preface" to the Book of Son