How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context

Poetic Culture from Antiquity Through the Tang

Edited by Zong-qi Cai

Columbia University Press

How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context

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Pub Date: February 2018

ISBN: 9780231185370

328 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $40.00£32.95

Pub Date: February 2018

ISBN: 9780231185363

328 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $120.00£99.95

Pub Date: February 2018

ISBN: 9780231546126

328 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $39.99£32.95

How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context

Poetic Culture from Antiquity Through the Tang

Edited by Zong-qi Cai

Columbia University Press

How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context is an introduction to the golden age of Chinese poetry, spanning the earliest times through the Tang dynasty (618–907). It aims to break down barriers—between language and culture, poetry and history—that have stood in the way of teaching and learning Chinese poetry. Not only a primer in early Chinese poetry, the volume demonstrates the unique and central role of poetry in the making of Chinese culture.

Each chapter focuses on a specific theme to show the interplay between poetry and the world. Readers discover the key role that poetry played in Chinese diplomacy, court politics, empire building, and institutionalized learning; as well as how poems shed light on gender and women’s status, war and knight-errantry, Daoist and Buddhist traditions, and more. The chapters also show how people of different social classes used poetry as a means of gaining entry into officialdom, creating self-identity, fostering friendship, and airing grievances. The volume includes historical vignettes and anecdotes that contextualize individual poems, investigating how some featured texts subvert and challenge the grand narratives of Chinese history. Presenting poems in Chinese along with English translations and commentary, How to Read Chinese Poetry in Context unites teaching poetry with the social circumstances surrounding its creation, making it a pioneering and versatile text for the study of Chinese language, literature, history, and culture.
Zong-qi Cai is one of the finest scholars of Chinese poetry writing today. Jonathan Chaves, The George Washington University
Truly a landmark publication in the field of Chinese literary scholarship. Shuen-fu Lin, University of Michigan
In this magnificent volume on Chinese poetry, nineteen scholars demonstrate the importance of cultural reading. From questions of authorship to ideology, from the poetry of wars, heroes, women, and knights-errant to that of Daoism and Buddhism, this book offers a surprising and enlightening rereading of Chinese poetry and its context. Kang-i Sun Chang, Yale University
A splendid achievement! Intellectually rigorous and reader-friendly at once, this collection of essays lets both novice and specialist readers experience the beauty and poignancy of classical Chinese poetry one well-chosen topic at a time. Patricia Sieber, Ohio State University
This volume joins others in editor Zong-qi Cai’s How to Read Chinese literature series as an important pedagogic and scholarly resource. Leading authorities set seminal poetic texts, across genres and periods, in their larger historical literary and intellectual contexts. A great contribution to a broader understanding of Chinese poetry. Ronald Egan, Stanford University
Thematic Contents
Preface to the How to Read Chinese Literature Series
Preface to the Volume
Chronology of Historical Events
Symbols and Abbreviations
Introduction: The Cultural Role of Chinese Poetry, by Zong-qi Cai
Part I: Pre-Han Times
1. Poetry and Diplomacy in The Zuo Commentary(Zuozhuan), by Wai-yee Li
2. Poetry and Authorship: The Songs of Chu (Chuci), by Stephen Owen
Part II: The Han Dynasty
3. Empire in Text: Sima Xiangru’s “Sir Vacuous/Imperial Park Rhapsody”(“Zixu/Shanglin fu”), by Yu-yu Cheng and Gregory Patterson
4. Poetry and Ideology: The Canonization of the Book of Poetry (Shijing) During the Han, by Zong-qi Cai
5. Love Beyond the Grave: A Tragic Tale of Love and Marriage in Han China, by Olga Lomová
Part III: The Six Dynasties
6. Heroes from Chaotic Times: The Three Caos, by Xinda Lian
7. The Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, by Nanxiu Qian
8. The Poetry of Reclusion: Tao Qian, by Alan Berkowitz
9. The Struggling Buddhist Mind: Shen Yue, by Meow Hui Goh
Part IV: The Tang Dynasty
10. Knight-Errantry: Tang Frontier Poems, by Tsung-Cheng Lin
11. Tang Civil Service Examinations, by Manling Luo
12. Tang Women at the Public/Private Divide, by Maija Bell Samei
13. Poetry and Buddhist Enlightenment: Wang Wei and Han Shan, by Chen Yinchi and Jing Chen
14. Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon: Li Bai and the Poetics of Wine, by Paula Varsano
15. Du Fu: The Poet as Historian, by Jack W. Chen
16. Poetry and Literati Friendship: Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen, by Ao Wang
17. Li He: Poetry as Obsession, by Robert Ashmore
Acknowledgments
Contributors
Glossary-Index

About the Author

Zong-qi Cai is professor of Chinese and comparative literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and chair professor of Chinese literature at Lingnan University of Hong Kong. His books on Chinese poetry include How to Read Chinese Poetry: A Guided Anthology (2007) and How to Read Chinese Poetry Workbook (2012), both from Columbia University Press, as well as The Matrix of Lyric Transformation: Poetic Modes and Self-Presentation in Early Chinese Pentasyllabic Poetry (1996).