Cloud Gate Song: The Verse of Tang Poet Zhang Ji

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Floating World Editions, 2006 - Poetry - 44 pages
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Zhang Ji (c.766-c.830) was a major poet of the Tang dynasty, and friend and poetic correspondent of such giants as Bai Juyi and Han Yu. In this first book of his work in any Western language, 300 poems are rendered in accurate, readable translation, demonstrating the remarkable range of Zhang's stylistic choices: from atmospheric landscape quatrains, evoking vast scenes with just a few brilliantly chosen words, to folk-style Music Bureau poems, conjuring up the impact on ordinary people of great historical events, such as the Tibetan invasions of China that took place during Zhang's lifetime. Particularly unusual is that for the first time, the works of a major Chinese poet are rendered in rhymed, or half-rhymed translations, tracking the original rhyme-schemes that play such an important role in Chinese poetics. An in-depth introduction by Professor Chaves analyzes the two reasons-linguistic and stylistic-previous translators have tended to avoid rhyme in their English versions, and shows why both barriers can and should be overcome. He further places his translations in the context of the important Neo-formalist movement in contemporary American poetry.

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About the author (2006)

Jonathan Chaves, professor of Chinese at The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., is a well-known scholar and translator of classical Chinese poetry. He has also studied relationships among poetry, painting and calligraphy in China, leading to his guest-curating the exhibition The Chinese Painter as Poet for China Institute in America in 2000. One emphasis of his work has been the introduction of Chinese poets never before translated to the Western reading public. Chaves writes as well on the philosophical aspects of literary criticism today, and has also published his own original poetry.

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