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Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology [Kindle Edition]

David Hinton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

With this groundbreaking collection, translated and edited by the renowned poet and translator David Hinton, a new generation will be introduced to the work that riveted Ezra Pound and transformed modern poetry. The Chinese poetic tradition is the largest and longest continuous tradition in world literature, and this rich and far-reaching anthology of nearly five hundred poems provides a comprehensive account of its first three millennia (1500 BCE to 1200 CE), the period during which virtually all its landmark developments took place. Unlike earlier anthologies of Chinese poetry, Hinton's book focuses on a relatively small number of poets, providing selections that are large enough to re-create each as a fully realized and unique voice. New introductions to each poet's work provide a readable history, told for the first time as a series of poetic innovations forged by a series of master poeets. From the classic texts of Chinese philosophy to intensely personal lyrics, from love poems to startling and strange perspectives on nature, Hinton has collected an entire world of beauty and insight. And in his eye-opening translations, these ancient poems feel remarkably fresh and contemporary, presenting a literature both radically new and entirely resonant, in Classical Chinese Poetry.

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"In the way of the pioneer translators of Chinese poetry during the past century--of Arthur Waley, Burton Watson, Willis Barnstone--David Hinton has heard and lured into English a new manner of hearing the great poets of that long glory of China's classical age. His achievement is another echo of the original, and a gift to our language." --W. S. Merwin"Hinton has established himself as the premier Chinese translator of our generation . . . He is a national treasure." --William Mullen, "The New York Sun""I don't know if [Hinton's "Selected Poems of Po Chu-i"] is superior to the original or not, but it's superior to anything I've ever seen in Chinese, and about the same for English." --A. R. Ammons "Hinton's music is subtle, modulated . . . He has listened to the individual tone of each poet, and his craft is equal to his perception . . . He continues to enlarge our literary horizon." --Rosemary Waldrop, citation for the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award"["The Late Poems of Meng Chiao"] affords us what is all too rare in Chinese translations: the sustained, recognizable resonance of a single voice at a single moment . . . This is a real contribution to the small body of genuine poetic translation." --Richard Howard "Given the magnitude of his ability and his overall project, Hinton is creating nothing less than a new literary tradition in English, an event of truly major importance not only to English literature but also to the literature of my own language. I cannot recommend the value of his work too highly."-- Bei Dao

About the Author

David Hinton's translations of classical Chinese poetry have earned him a Guggenheim fellowship, numerous NEA and NEH fellowships, and both of the major awards given for poetry translation in the United States, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, from the Academy of American Poets, and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, from the PEN American Center. He is also the first translator in over a century to translate the four seminal works of Chinese philosophy: the "Tao Te Ching," "Chuang Tzu," "Analects," and "Mencius." He lives in Vermont.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2374 KB
  • Print Length: 509 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (10 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KF29DCY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #361,182 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 20 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good translations. Well designed and sturdily produced paperback. It compares well with the Waley translations and clearly superior to Ezra Pound's free versions.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical 8 Oct. 2009
David Hinton opens up three thousand years of writing to an audience that does not speak or read Mandarin. The world owes David an enormous debt of gratitude. Purchase this book if you only ever buy one book of poetry in your life.This is the best companion you could wish for. Lose yourself in this revealed history of poetry.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Master, Old Masters 3 Mar. 2009
By Kevin Maynard - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This anthology is itself a work of American literature---not something that can be said with any degree of confidence of most such compilations. For many years now Hinton has been quietly and tenaciously amassing a body of translations of classical Chinese poetry that is provocatively different from the Poundian model (which tends to favour a style that is spare, pellucid, minimalist and---by definition---'Imagist').

Hinton's versions, by contrast, are knotty, thoughtful, muscular and torsive. They are also intensely musical. They restore a measure of sheer passion and 'difficulty' to Chinese poems that, while it suits certain poets better than others, is always highly compelling. Hinton is steeped in Chinese philosophy (particularly Daoism) and this has led him to develop his own private 'philosophical' diction, which he uses pretty consistently throughout. We general readers sometimes forget how allusive Chinese poetry is, not just to Chinese history, astrology, medicine etc., but also to Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism.

My only (very minor) reservation about this admirable collection, is that his style is so distinctive that it might be thought to impose a degree of homogeneity on his chosen source texts; and that this could be seen as a little misleading. The same charge could of course be laid against Waley's translations, or Burton Watson's---or even Ezra Pound's. Nor, when one looks more closely at the text as a whole, does it seem quite fair: Hinton's Shi Jing poems are unlike anything he's ever done before, for instance; and his renderings of Li He are likewise noticeably different from those of Du Fu or Meng Jiao.

By tackling so broad a span of Chinese literary history, Hinton has set himself a whole set of new problems to solve, and the result has been a triumphant success. What a treat to see him getting under the skins of so many other major Chinese writers, and giving them fresh voices!

His decision to stop at the end of the Song Dynasty makes perfect sense, though I'd love one day to see what he makes of those many wonderful Yuan Dynasty qu poems that at present we have to go to Seaton for (not that Seaton isn't pretty wonderful himself).

In recent years we've been highly fortunate in our American translators of both Chinese and Japanese verse: but Hinton really is in a class of his own. Buy this, and treasure it during your own lifetime; then pass it on to your children and grandchildren. Buy it in hardback, so that it will weather the decades. (But do so quickly. Hardback editions have relatively small print-runs. In fifty years' time, second-hand copies of this masterpiece will be worth a small fortune.)
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English Text Book for Elementary and HS 3 Aug. 2010
By L. liu - Published on
Parents should pick this book and read this book with their kids;
Our government should mandate schools to educate our pupils with this book.
I remember my own childhood as a Chinese kid, how my parents read me simple Tang poems, and wow! now Mr. David Hinton has done it for English speaking people and world and my idols too. His book holds great treasure for kids, after reading it they simple become educated, elegant and classy. and how often we call it a translation for all Chinese poetry anthology? and we again and again tell ourselves that poetry cannot be translated, but Mr. Hinton not only give us a translation, but the actual poems that my Chinese masters done, all in English.
I stay in US try to learn English and hope one day I can translate Chinese poems into English, but after reading some of Hinton's work I burn my stack of translated works, coz I am happy there are a few awesome translators work the best as I can see. and one of best of Chinese poetry is across culture, it does not emphasize on religion, even a spiritual content that relates to humanism (inner), society(political), and nature all combines into one speech, and thru this translation it seems nothing is lost to me. and even though many readers miss many allusive terms such as evening sun, autumn for old age or nation's end, spring means love and romance and favor of emperor.... still you won't miss the motion pictures that each great artist has done for you, those directors don't need millions dollar to shoot a film, just a few characters and words to bring all the thoughts and emotion that echoes in your heart. And I bet most kids want to be a poet after reading it, coz they want to create movie with their words too.
This book you cannot miss, it is for everyone.
Now I can happily go back to my books and wine and my brocade qin and acoustic guitar to sing the autumn moon and spring bloom, under the setting sun beyond green mountains.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Has Been a Long Road to this Excellent Book 7 Mar. 2011
By Amazon Creek - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been reading Chinese and loving Chinese poetry for about 25 years, over half my life now. I have also read many books of translations, for better and worse, but nothing in English so alive, so understanding and wide as this. I have an old experience of reading Chinese poems and thinking - this poem is so amazing, o if I could tell them... & had long given up the thought that I would ever see a group of translations I could so enthusiastically share with my non-Chinese speaking friends. Now I am buying this book for that purpose. When you sit long enough with a good thought you never know what exactly will happen. This is how I feel about this book.

Regarding the book itself, it is miraculous to have such an English translation of so many poems at once, and to have the poems so intelligently selected and ordered to illustrate the changes in style and thought over time. It is completely delicious. It is like innocently visiting those Chinese places, those rivers, mountains and temples, in an English language time machine. I feel this especially with the Chan era poems of the Tang and Sung, with their emphasis on rendering immediate experience. In the context of their immediacy, they arrive as timeless, and so translate amazingly well in the hands of such a gifted translator.

Technically, Hinton does a good job of dealing with the impossible problem, of rendering the natural multivalence of Chinese imagery and syntax while maintaining the life-stream of fluency and clarity these poems have. I agree with the previous reviewer Maynard here, and like his adjectives for this translation: "knotty, thoughtful, muscular and torsive...musical." Maynard talks of the earlier Pound translations as "pellucid and minimalist." This is also the case. In Hinton we have a bridge to a better understanding of Chan/Zen than Pound had.

The empty Zen garden we imagine from photos, the one that looks like a perfect celestial parking lot, is at best a tool for people practicing to learn what Wu-emptiness means. It is not the result of Zen. The "ten-thousand things" - they are what is empty, & what need to be realized as empty. The better Chinese Chan poets really knew this, & Hinton seems to understand it, which is why his non-minimalist style is more accurate, meaningful, and to me more beautiful. He chooses poems which say as much and renders them vividly.

I think Hinton may confuse Chan emptiness somewhat with the Taoist wash-away realization of the great mystery of the come-and-go, but I think the Chinese also may have had this confusion, so maybe Hinton is just expertly representing that, or maybe it is my problem. It is a point that could be discussed. Hinton is like the Chinese poet masters in that he is a scholar, realizer and musician too. We see him as a scholar in his introductions to the periods the poems where written in, and in the useful references he provides. As a poet we judge him as the poems go. We can each of us decide what percentage, balance or mix of these elements makes the best poet or the best translator, but I don't know who, who takes these things to heart, can quibble with the value of this effort.

Translations can never be the poems themselves, but with a heroic effort the poems will try to leap through, and I think this is that. Like I said, you never know what will happen. I suggest everyone who is interested should get this book, keep it and read it. Thank you to the translator for your attention, inspiration and labor. It is very kind to us.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Falling in Love with Chinese Poetry 25 Mar. 2010
By Vickie I. Fang - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a reference, something to dip into from time to time, but once I opened it I was hooked. I read it cover to cover and will go back to it many more times. It is such a joy to read classical Chinese poetry translated by someone who is more interested in the poetry than the opportunity to show off his linguistic skills or his ability to turn 8th century Chinese into something that a fop in the 1820s would write. Hinton is the best translator of Chinese poetry I've ever come across. He really loves the work, and he lets you love it too.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dynastic treasury! 25 Jan. 2009
By David Fletcher Noble - Published on
I love this book! It's a great collection of early Chinese poets. There are many poems which are written in the couplet form. Asian verse focuses on the tides of nature and its similarity to human life and experience. Sometimes content, sometimes grieving, these works are simple in their authenticity and complex in their imageries. These poems and songs relate to love, war, honor, nature, longing, the past, the present, and the spirituality of China and other themes. One can read these and be taken into the atmosphere of the writer and be charmed or moved. When I took a look at this book, I wanted to get it. You will not be dissappointed either; you could spend a whole year reading this book wholly. The outcovering is lovely, the poetry is wonderful. No lover of poetry should miss this collection. So many, many texts! Ancient China beckons you to come forth into a world of grace and nature. Let the poets honor and entertain you.
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