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The Book of Songs (China: History, Philosophy, Economics) Paperback – 11 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Reprint edition (11 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415612659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415612654
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 735,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
Waley's translation of the Shi Jing is finally presented here in the order of the original text. It reads wonderfully, both as a artistic work in itself and as a academic aid. Joseph Allen's commentary, added notes and translations are very valuable additions, which are well-research and succinctly written. Also, the foreword by Stephen Owen is an excellent overview to the place of this work in the Chinese classics. I can recommend this book not only to the general public, but also to the student of the ShiJing (of which I am one!)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The poems in this book are rather specialised but as an introduction to a different world view they can't be faulted. Most of them are very short, which means one can progress through several ideas and points of view in a short session of reading. The translations are easy to read and I found the introductory notes made them accessible. Anyone who likes reading a variety of poetry would enjoy these.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Introduction to a Difficult Book 6 Nov 2001
By Thomas F. Ogara - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Book of Songs (Shi Jing) is one of the seminal works of Chinese Civilization, along with the Book of Changes (Yi Jing), the Book of History (Shu Jing) and the Book of Rites (Li Chi). All four of these books were already old when Confucius flourished, and tradition states that they were edited by him into their present form.
Old indeed they are, and virtually inaccessible even to those fairly proficient in Chinese. A mere knowledge of the Classical idiom is no guarantee of understanding them; The Yi Jing in its original Chinese is little more than a skein of characters strung together, each one of them generally to be understood on its own rather than as part of a sentence. The Shi Jing is a book of poetry, but it is poetry from a remote antiquity; it contains many words that occur nowhere else in Chinese literature, the poems usually don't rhyme any more (yes, Chinese poetry rhymes!) and no doubt some of the poems date back to an extremely remote shamanistic past in Chinese history. They are venerated for the moral message contained in them, and also for the spontaneity to life that they express - a quality that is prized so highly in East Asian culture. It is a taproot of East Asian thought, just as the psalms and Homer are for the West.
Which makes Waley's translation all the more amazing, in that he could actually produce a work that is so absorbing and edifying. Waley was something of a genius of translation; he never visited the Far East - he claimed it would ruin his impression of it - but he translated so much of the best of Chinese and Japanese literature, and he did it so well. Some of the items he translated have never been attempted by anybody else, and while there are other translations of the Shi Jing his is far and away the best one to read.
Those who are familiar with Waley's other works may find the book a disappointment, which is unfortunate. This is an extremely difficult work to translate, much harder than the Analects, to say nothing of the popular Chinese novels that Waley also did into English. The problem is bringing the material to life, and I feel that Waley did as much as could be done with it.
This book was, I believe, out of print for quite a few years. I'm glad to see it's back.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Best version of The Book of Songs 5 May 2014
By Richard C. Stclair - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book. This is not just a reprint of Waley's earlier version. It restores the original order of the verses (Waley reorganized the order according to his personal preference), and the editor, Stephen Owen, has translated and included some dozen of the poems that Waley deleted from the collection. Beautiful layout, and crystal-clear translations, plus a valuable study of the history and content of this collection of some 300 poems from ancient China. In my view, the best translation of this important collection of early Chinese verse.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Amazing book - amazing translations 3 May 2013
By Paul in Guangzhou - Published on
How do you give a star rating to a book that has influenced a major culture in such an astounding way? The Book of Songs is similar, in some ways, to the Bible -- a wide variety of texts edited together, used as scripture by many generations, influencing the language and thoughts of hundreds of generations. This edition is wonderful, due to the excellent translations and the intelligent re-ordering of the poems into their original order. Before you read "Dream of the Red Chamber" or any other more recent Chinese classics, read this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautiful book both to hold and to read 27 Oct 2014
By R. A. Gaskill - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading modern and contemporary poetry, it's a pleasure to taste the clarity and feeling of verse written prior to the era of Confucius. This is a beautiful book both to hold and to read. The new format orders the poems by geography and dynasty, as in the original Chinese version, which I find much more informative than ordering the poems by theme. Waley's notes are a great help in understanding the historical and literary context of the poems. The Book of Songs is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the possibilities and breadth of poetry.
Five Stars 27 Nov 2014
By Glenn Raff - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A terrific investment
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