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How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context: Poetic Culture from Antiquity Through the Tang
Published by Columbia University Press
How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context is an introduction to the golden age of Chinese poetry, spanning the earliest times through the Tang dynasty. Presenting poems in Chinese along with English translations and commentary, it is a pioneering and versatile text for the study of Chinese language, literature, history, and culture.
How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context is an introduction to the golden age of Chinese poetry, spanning the earliest times through the Tang dynasty (618-907). It aims to break down barriers-between language and culture, poetry and history-that have stood in the way of teaching and learning Chinese poetry. Not only a primer in early Chinese poetry, the volume demonstrates the unique and central role of poetry in the making of Chinese culture. Each chapter focuses on a specific theme to show the interplay between poetry and the world. Readers discover the key role that poetry played in Chinese diplomacy, court politics, empire building, and institutionalized learning; as well as how poems shed light on gender and women's status, war and knight-errantry, Daoist and Buddhist traditions, and more. The chapters also show how people of different social classes used poetry as a means of gaining entry into officialdom, creating self-identity, fostering friendship, and airing grievances. The volume includes historical vignettes and anecdotes that contextualize individual poems, investigating how some featured texts subvert and challenge the grand narratives of Chinese history. Presenting poems in Chinese along with English translations and commentary, How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context unites teaching poetry with the social circumstances surrounding its creation, making it a pioneering and versatile text for the study of Chinese language, literature, history, and culture.
Thematic ContentsPreface to the How to Read Chinese Literature SeriesPreface to the VolumeChronology of Historical EventsSymbols and AbbreviationsIntroduction: The Cultural Role of Chinese Poetry, by Zong-qi CaiPart I: Pre-Han Times1. Poetry and Diplomacy in The Zuo Commentary(Zuozhuan), by Wai-yee Li2. Poetry and Authorship: The Songs of Chu (Chuci), by Stephen OwenPart II: The Han Dynasty3. Empire in Text: Sima Xiangru's Sir Vacuous/Imperial Park Rhapsody ( Zixu/Shanglin fu ), by Yu-yu Cheng and Gregory Patterson4. Poetry and Ideology: The Canonization of the Book of Poetry (Shijing) During the Han, by Zong-qi Cai5. Love Beyond the Grave: A Tragic Tale of Love and Marriage in Han China, by Olga LomovaPart III: The Six Dynasties6. Heroes from Chaotic Times: The Three Caos, by Xinda Lian7. The Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, by Nanxiu Qian8. The Poetry of Reclusion: Tao Qian, by Alan Berkowitz9. The Struggling Buddhist Mind: Shen Yue, by Meow Hui GohPart IV: The Tang Dynasty10. Knight-Errantry: Tang Frontier Poems, by Tsung-Cheng Lin11. Tang Civil Service Examinations, by Manling Luo12. Tang Women at the Public/Private Divide, by Maija Bell Samei13. Poetry and Buddhist Enlightenment: Wang Wei and Han Shan, by Chen Yinchi and Jing Chen14. Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon: Li Bai and the Poetics of Wine, by Paula Varsano15. Du Fu: The Poet as Historian, by Jack W. Chen16. Poetry and Literati Friendship: Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, by Ao Wang17. Li He: Poetry as Obsession, by Robert AshmoreAcknowledgmentsContributorsGlossary-Index
Zong-qi Cai is professor of Chinese and comparative literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and chair professor of Chinese literature at Lingnan University of Hong Kong. His books on Chinese poetry include How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (2007) and How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook (2012), both from Columbia University Press, as well as The Matrix of Lyric Transformation: Poetic Modes and Self-Presentation in Early Chinese Pentasyllabic Poetry (1996).
Reviewer: Caleb Simmons
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