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.

Alex Beecroft on Untranslated World Literature

To promote his new book, An Ecology of World Literature: From Antiquity to the Present Day, Alexander Beecroft blogs for Verso on “a list of five works of world literature which you may not be able to read (even if perhaps you should) – because they haven’t been translated into English, or there is no readily available translation into English.” He adds, “Let these five stand in for the thousands of other books, great, good, and bad, we won’t be able to read until somebody translates them.” He starts with Ruan Ji 阮籍 (210-261), Poems which sing my emotions. 詠懷詩:

I’ll begin with a text I have read (and one which has actually been translated; a translation by Graham Hartill was published in China in 1988 and reprinted there in 2006, but it’s available in only a handful of university libraries, and not for sale at Amazon) … One of the most memorable of these voices belonged to Ruan Ji, one of the so-called “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove.” The Seven Sages were a group of intellectuals who had risen to prominence under the Wei dynasty, the short-lived successor to the Han. The Wei ruling house, the Cao family, produced several great poets themselves, and poetry, painting, religious learning and “pure conversation” flourished in their era, but under their successors, the Western Jin, life got more complicated for intellectuals, and the Seven Sages (we are told) cultivated an air of eccentricity to provide an alibi for their detachment from court and continued artistic and scholarly production.

Click the image for the full list.