Synopses & Reviews
, or lyric, reached its full maturity in China during the eleventh century and the first quarter of the twelfth. Until now this important poetic genre has been little known to English readers, and James J. Y. Liu's book is the first to deal systematically and critically with it. He does so by examining the work of six representative poets of the period.
The poems are analyzed in terms of their "exploration of worlds," by which the author means the poet's probing of the natural world and the human world in which he lives, as well as of his own mind. This leads into a discussion of the poet's "exploration of language," his incessant effort to embody the worlds he explores in complex verbal structures and to realize the potentialities of the Chinese language as a medium of poetic expression.
Preceding the general discussion of each lyricist's poetry are examples of the work of each in four forms: first in the original Chinese text, then in a romanization, next in a word-for-word translation, and finally in an idiomatic translation. Each poem is accompanied by a metrical diagram, explanatory notes, and a critical commentary. Attention is focused on poetic qualities and features such as diction, imagery, syntax, and prosody.
Originally published in 1974.
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