Owen & Swartz’s Ruan Ji and Xi Kang from de Gruyters

As part of the ongoing Library of Chinese Humanities series, de Gruyter has now published the complete Poetry of Ruan Ji and Xi Kang, with translations by Stephen Owen and Wendy Swartz (edited by Ding Xiang Warner and Xiaofei Tian). It is not only available for sale, it is also available for open-access free download in .pdf format.

As the promotion materials state, the present translation of Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210–263)

not only provides a facing page critical Chinese text, it addresses two problems that have been ignored or not adequately treated in earlier works. First, it traces the history of the current text … Second, [earlier] translations have been shaped by the anachronistic assumption that Ruan Ji was loyal to the declining Wei dynasty, when actual power had been taken by the S[i]ma family, who founded the Jin dynasty after Ruan Ji’s death. The introduction shows how and when that assumption took full shape five centuries after Ruan Ji lived and why it is not tenable. This leads to a different kind of translation, closer to what a contemporary reader might have understood and far less certain than referring it to some political event.

Meanwhile, Xi Kang 嵇康 (ca. 223 – ca. 262) is presented with

a complete scholarly translation of his poetic works (including “Rhapsody on the Zither”) alongside the original texts. Many of Xi Kang’s poems are difficult and most are laden with allusions and quotations, adding another level of challenge to interpretation. Basic explanatory notes are provided.

Click the image for ordering / download information.

Owen’s Complete Poetry of Du Fu

https://i2.wp.com/www.degruyter.com/doc/cover/9781501501890.jpg?resize=253%2C373The Poetry of Du Fu 杜甫, edited and translated by Stephen Owen, is now available from the Library of Chinese Humanities (a new venture started by Owen and Paul Kroll and edited by them and Sarah Allen, Christopher Nugent, Anna Shields, Xiaofei Tian, and Ding Xiang Warner). It is not only available for sale, it is also available for open-access free download in .pdf format.

This six-volume opus, totaling almost 3000 pages, is to my knowledge the first translation of the complete poetic output of any individual Chinese poet in history. The promotional materials say,

The entirety of Du Fu’s works provides a more nuanced portrait of the author than the standard selections. It gives testimony to the great rebellion of 755, but also poems on building a chicken coop and repairing bamboo plumbing. In the whole we discover how the sublime and quotidian are united in a larger vision of life.

Likewise, in his introduction, Owen writes,

If there is a justification for translating all of the poems,  it may be deepening our sense of his engagement with the mundane and  not allowing it to resolve into simply a way to talk about “big things.” It is the persistence of his vision of large significance in the everyday—sometimes ironically—that makes a whole Du Fu more satisfying than a selected Du Fu.

This is true. As is Tfrom high-minded loyalist to bereft father to woeful exile to irritable curmudgeon to sycophantic hack to meditative imagist,” which is “a welcome counterbalance to the stereotyped image of Du Fu as a great ‘Confucian’ poet, the sort of thing you find in introductory textbooks to Chinese literature, both in China and abroad.”

But I also think there is a poetic argument, not limited to the specifics of Chinese literature, for a complete Du Fu (or any poet) in English, which is the one Eliot Weinberger makes in his introduction to The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987:

to study the topography of a major poet we need to see both the peaks and the valleys. One does not exist without the other; the “minor” poems not only lead to, but often illuminate, the more important work. (And, of course, what one editor or critic considers “minor” may turn out to be a revelation for another reader.)

Click the image above for more information and the full free download.

A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese

Forthcoming from Brill, A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, edited by Paul W. Kroll with William G. Boltz, David R. Knechtges, Y. Edmund Lien, Antje Richter, Matthias L. Richter, & Ding Xiang Warner. From the press description:

A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese is the long-desired Chinese – English reference work for all those reading texts dating from the Warring States period through the Tang dynasty. Comprising 8,000+ characters, arranged alphabetically by Pinyin.
As a lexicon meant for practical use, it immensely facilitates reading and translating historical, literary, and religious texts dating from approximately 500 BCE to 1000 CE. Being primarily a dictionary of individual characters (zidian 字典) and the words they represent, it also includes an abundance of alliterative and echoic binomes (lianmianci 連綿詞) as well as accurate identifications of hundreds of plants, animals, and assorted technical terms in various fields. It aims to become the English-language resource of choice for all those seeking assistance in reading texts dating from the Warring States period through the Tang dynasty.

Over at his blog, Tom Mazanec calls this “the most important development in Classical Chinese-to-English lexicography since R. H. Mathews’s Chinese-English Dictionary (from 1943).” He says, “nearly every other Chinese dictionary out there lumps together a character’s usage over 3,000 years in a single entry, with no notes on time. This deliberate ignoring of linguistic development help create a false sense of a timeless, unchanging ‘traditional China,’ a myth widespread among East Asians and Westerners alike” (and gives an example of Kroll’s exacting sense of English vocabulary to render medieval Chinese).

Click on the image for further details, including ordering information.