Stanford News has a brief feature on Ronald Egan’s new book on Li Qingzhao 李清照 (1084-1150s): The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China, they say, “is the first critical treatment of Qingzhao’s writing in English to appear in 50 years.” They don’t know that Chinese surnames come before given names, but the feature is still worth reading. Here’s an excerpt focusing on what makes Egan’s approach important:
Unlike traditional Chinese scholarship, Egan’s groundbreaking approach to investigating Li Qingzhao’s life and writings examines her place in history before analyzing her literary work. Reconstructing the social and literary world in which Qingzhao wrote has to come first, Egan explained, because it enables him to address the gender biases she has faced throughout the past 800 years of Chinese scholarship and criticism.
“I can’t start talking about my understanding of her literary works,” Egan said, “until the reader sees the whole story unpacked and deconstructed. And then we can go back with all that in mind and have a fresh look at her literary works. Only by doing that can we accurately gauge her achievement as a poet.”
Click the image above for the full piece.