Writing in the Asian Review of Books, John Butler reviews two new books by David Hinton, Awakened Cosmos: The Mind of Classical Chinese Poetry, David Hinton (Shambhala, 2019) and The Selected Poems of Tu Fu, Expanded and Newly Translated, (New Directions, 2020).
Butler writes that for previous translators, “Tu Fu was important because he was a poet of understandable emotions, not because of any connections with abstruse philosophy,” but this is where “David Hinton and Awakened Cosmos comes in,” since
as a translator he puts a different emphasis on what he believed Tu Fu was doing and had a different agenda. As Hinton writes, “A typical classical Chinese poem appears to be a plain-spoken utterance about a poet’s immediate experience” … Hinton, however, moves beyond the literal meaning of the poems, their “apparent content”, and opens up a universe far beyond their emotional appeal, and that’s why anyone now reading Tu Fu should definitely keep a copy of Awakened Cosmos handy. We will then understand how Tu Fu was able to give us “a biography of the Cosmos awakened to itself in the form of a magisterial poet alive in T’ang Dynasty China.”
Click the link above for the full review.