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300 Yuan Songs Translated by Xu Yuanchong

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Author: Xu Yuanchong;
Language: Chinese, English
Page: 187
Publication Date: 06/2019
ISBN: 9787508542065
Details
Ancient Chinese classic poems are exquisite works of art. As far as 2,000 years ago, Chinese poets composed the beautiful work Book of Poetry and Elegies of the South, Later, they created more splendid Tang poetry and Song lyrics. Such classic works as Thus Spoke the Master and Laws: Divine and Human were extremely significant in building and shaping the culture of the Chinese nation. These works are both a cultural bond linking the thoughts and affections of Chinese people and an important bridge for Chinese culture and the world. Mr. Xu Yuanchong has been engaged in translation for 70 years. In December 2010, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award in Translation conferred by the Translators Association of China (TAC). He is honored as the only expert who translates Chinese poems into both English and French. After his excellent interpretation, many Chinese classic poems have been further refined into perfect English and French rhymes. This collection of Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose gathers his most representative English translations. It includes the classic works Thus Spoke the Master, Laws: Divine and Human and dramas such as Romance of the Western Bower, Dream in Peony Pavilion, Love in Long-life Hall and Peach Blossom Painted with Blood. The largest part of the collection includes the translation of selected poems from different dynasties. The selection includes various types of poems, lyrics and Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasty songs. The selected works start from the pre-Qin era to the Qing Dynasty, covering almost the entire history of classic poems in China. Reading these works is like tasting "living water from the source" of Chinese culture. We hope this collection will help English readers "know, love and appreciate" Chinese classic poems, share the intelligence of Confucius and Lao Tzu, share the gracefulness of Tang Dynasty poems, Song lyrics and classic operas and songs and promote exchanges between Eastern and Western culture. This book is one of the 14 books of Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose, a translation of Confucian classics Thus Spoke the Master.
 
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Sample pages of 300 Yuan Songs Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542065)
Sample pages of 300 Yuan Songs Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542065)
Sample pages of 300 Yuan Songs Translated by Xu Yuanchong (ISBN:9787508542065)


Preface
Preface
How can we know the cultural level of a nation? We may see how many masterpieces her people has created for mankind. Tang poetry, Song lyrics and Yuan songs are masterpieces created by the Chinese people from the seventh to the fourteenth centuries.
Poetry is the voice of the mind, As Confucius said, “poetry serves to inspire, to reflect, to communicate and to criticize,” we may say to voice what is in the mind is to inspire others, to reflect reality, to communicate with people and to criticize the times. In Tang poetry, Song lyrics and Yuan songs we can find inspiration to the mind, reflections of the times, communion with Heaven above and criticism on evils below. For instance, in Tang poetry we can see Li Bai’s communion with nature and man in his romanticism, Du Fu’s reflections of the people’s misery in his classicism, Bai juyi’s criticism of the evils of the times in his realism, and Li Shangyin’s inspiration to the mind in his symbolism, which may be said to be earlier than these literary trends in the west by a thousand years. In Song lyrics we can find lyricism in Liu Yong, rationalism in Su Dongpo, colloquialism in Li Qingzhao and satirism in Xin Qiji. On the one hand, both Tang and Song poets are successors to ancient literary tradition crystallized in the Book of Poetry compiled by Confucius; on the other, they have exercised great influence on Yuan songs.
The Tang and Song dynasties are the golden ages in Chinese history. During these six hundred years the Chinese empire was the most prosperous, most developed, most civilized country in the world, while the west was under the reign of the Dark Ages. But during the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols came from the north to conquer the central plain. They became the rulers and oppressed the southern people. The Mongols might kill Southerners without reason and without being punished. The conquered intellectuals sank so low in their social position that they were classified even under prostitutes and only above beggars. These phenomena are reflected in songs. For example, Zhong Sicheng sang of the beggar:
I ask if there’s a charitable miss
Who would give me a hearty meal.
and of a poor scholar:
I would repair an old brick-kiln with clay
And open a school for beggars by day.
I’ll put on a black hat half outworn
And a yellow cloak half torn.
And Zhen Shi sang of a prostitute:
It is my duty to please men by my beauty,
But behind them my tears fall in streams.
Here we see the realism of Tang poets extended more deeply to the lower class of people.
What could intellectuals do under such oppression but voice their discontent and hatred in songs?

“一个国家人民文化水平的高低,要看它对人类文化的贡献,也就是说,它对世界文化提供了多少珍品。”(引自1982年11月17日《人民日报》)唐诗、宋词、元曲就是我国对人类文化提供的珍品。
诗言志。孔子说过:“诗可以兴,可以观,可以群,可以怨。”这就是说,“言志”包括见物起兴,观察反映,合群交流,发泄怨愤。而在唐诗、宋词、元曲中,我们都可以看到“兴观群怨”的丰富内容。如以唐诗而论,李白的浪漫主义诗篇中有人与自然的交流,杜甫的现实主义诗篇中有对战乱时代的反映,白居易通俗易懂的诗篇中有对世风的批评,李商隐的象征主义诗篇中有心灵的感叹。如以宋词而论,则有缠绵悱恻的柳永,以理化情的苏轼,语浅情深的李清照,愤世嫉俗的辛弃疾。一方面,唐诗和宋词都继承了《诗经》中“兴观群怨”的文学传统;另一方面,又对元代散曲产生了重大的影响。
唐宋两朝是中国历史上的黄金时代,六百年间经济繁荣,文化发达,是全世界首屈一指的。而当时的西方正处在黑暗的中世纪时期。到了元代,蒙古族从北南下,侵入中原,统治全国,君临天下,压迫南方人民。现实社会中,蒙古人甚至可以随意杀死南人而不受惩罚,知识分子却沦落到了非常低贱的地位,甚至在妓女之下,只在乞丐之上。这种现象在元散曲中都有反映。如钟嗣成在《醉太平》中描写乞丐:
绕前街后街,
进大院深宅。
怕有那慈悲好善小裙钗,
请乞儿一顿饱斋。
又描写穷书生:
风流贫最好,
村沙富难交。
拾灰泥补砌了旧砖窑,
开一个教乞儿市学。
裹一顶半新不旧乌纱帽,
穿一领半长不短黄麻罩。
系一条半联不断皂环绦,
做一个穷风月训导。
又如真氏写一个妓女说:
对人前乔做作娇模样,
背地里泪千行。
由此可以看出唐代诗人的现实主义,到了元代,已经扩大深入到下层人民了。
元代知识分子一般无力积极反抗,只能愤愤不平地发发牢骚,以怨天尤人的方式发泄内心不平。如无名氏的《朝天子》中说:
不读书有权,
不识字有钱,
不晓事倒有人夸荐。
老天只恁忒心偏,
贤和愚无分辨。
发牢骚后,他们尽量麻醉自己,把乐天知命、知足不辱当作处世的原则;把人生无常、消极的出世思想渗入自己的作品,主观幻想地美化田园的隐居生活。
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300 Yuan Songs Translated by Xu Yuanchong
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