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EN9A4 Chinese Poetry and the Western Reader

Not offered in 2017-18.

Tutor: John T. Gilmore

This course aims to introduce students to major genres (folk songs and nursery rhymes, Tang shi, Song ci) and a selection of major authors (Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, Bai Juyi, Li Qingzhao, Mao Zedong) through Western translations. While there will be some discussion of form in Chinese poetry, no previous knowledge of Chinese is assumed. The focus will be on the translations, primarily in English; some reference will be made to translations in other languages (particularly French and Latin), but in these cases English versions will be provided. The translations themselves are chosen in some cases for their historical importance in the history of the reception of Chinese literature in the West, but also to exemplify a range of differing approaches to the translation of poetry.

Teaching and assessment:

Teaching will take the form of weekly two-hour seminars. Assessment details are as follows: 1 x 5,000 word essay (MATTS and MATWCD)@30 CATS; or 1 x 6,000 or 8,000 word essay (MA in English and MA in World Lit) @ 30 or 36 CATS.

Course outline:

Week 1: Introduction: The forms of Classical Chinese poetry; 19 (and more) ways of looking at Wang Wei

Week 2: Early versions of the Shi Jing (the Confucian Book of Odes or Book of Songs)

Week 3: The troublesome bondage of rhyming, from Herbert Giles to Xu Yuanchong

Week 4: Mother Goose or Tong Yao? Headland and Vitale’s translations of children’s rhymes

Week 5: Cathay and Imagism: Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell

Week 6: Arthur Waley’s “New Planet”: 170 Chinese Poems

Week 7: David Hawkes, A Little Primer of Tu Fu

Week 8: The poetry of Mao Zedong

Week 9: Approaches to Li Qingzhao: Kenneth Rexroth, Ling Chung and Wei Djao

Week 10: Classics for the 21st century: selections from David Hinton

Illustrative bibliography:

In many cases selections of texts for study will be made available to students as photocopies or scans, drawn from the following, among others:

Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell, trs., Fir-Flower Tablets (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921; reprints available)

Willis Barnstone, trs., with Ko Ching-po, The Poems of Mao Tse-tung (New York: Harper & Row, 1972; re-issued by University of California Press, 2008).

Herbert A. Giles, trs., Gems of Chinese Literature: Verse (2nd ed., Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, 1923; reprints available)

Herbert A. Giles and Arthur Waley, trs., Select Chinese Verses (Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1934)

David Hawkes, A Little Primer of Tu Fu (OUP, 1967; Hong Kong: Renditions Press, 1988)

Isaac Taylor Headland, trs., Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1900; reprints available)

David Hinton, ed. and trs., Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2010)

Ezra Pound, Cathay (1915; many reprints available)

Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, ed. and trs., Li Ch’ing-chao: Complete Poems (New York: New Directions, 1979)

Guido Vitale, Chinese Folklore: Pekinese Rhymes (Beijing: Pei-T’ang Press, 1896; new ed., Hong Kong: Vetch and Lee Limited, 1972; reprints of first ed. available)

Arthur Waley, trs., 170 Chinese Poems (1918; many reprints available)

Wei Djao, A Blossom Like No Other: Li Qingzhao (Toronto: Ginger Post Inc, 2010)

Eliot Weinberger and Octavio Paz, ed., 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated (Moyer Bell, 1987)

Additional reading:

Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping, ed., The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry (New York: Anchor Books, 2005)

Zong-qi Cai, Configurations of Comparative Poetics: Three Perspectives on Western and Chinese Literary Criticism (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002)

Barbara Folkart, Second Finding: A Poetics of Translation (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007)

Herbert A. Giles, A History of Chinese Literature (London: Heinemann, 1901; reprints available)

John Gilmore, “A Hundred Flowers: English-language versions of the Poems of Mao Zedong,” in Laurence K. P. Wong and Chan Sin-wai, ed., The Dancer and the Dance: Essays in Translation Studies (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming 2013).

Theo Hermans, ed., Translating Others (2 vols., Manchester: St. Jerome Press, 2006)

C. W. Luh, On Chinese Poetry (Peiping [Beijing], 1935)

Jacques Pimpaneau, Lettre à une jeune fille qui voudrait partir en Chine (Arles: Editions Philippe Picquier, 2004)

Kwok-kan Tam and Kelly Kar-yue Chan, ed., Culture in Translation: Reception of Chinese Literature in Comparative Perspective (Hong Kong: Open University of Hong Kong Press, 2012)

Xu Yuanchong, On Chinese verse in English Rhyme: From the Book of Poetry to the Romance of the Western Bower (Beijing: Peking University Press, 1992, 2010)