A History of Chinese Literature
By Zhang Longxi
Although an overview of Chinese literature over the last few thousand years, much of it deals with writings and poetry from the medieval period, with the Tang and Song dynasties getting a lot of the focus. Hundreds of translations of poems can be found in its pages, including these two examples:
Liu Changqing (c. 727–c. 790) on visiting a deserted city:
The lonely city rose so high as to reach the white clouds,
Lying west of the Chu River in eternal ruin and blight.
Official residences are now empty, buried in tall grass;
Over broken turrets ravens are crying at night.
The traveler is lost in expanse of sand stretching far out,
And the setting sun comes down near the low ground.
Knowing nothing of the change of times, the birds
Still pass over the Yiyang Valley in their daily round.
Fan Chengda (1126–1193) – his poem is called “Hengtang”:
When spring is here, the southern pier is all green,
The stone bridge, the red pagoda, they always remain.
Every year sending off friends on the Hengtang Road,
Boats are tied to weeping willows in a drizzling rain.
Who is this book for?
If you want an overview of Chinese literature, this book will be ideal. It covers all the major men and women poets, plus details various medieval novels like Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Water Margin. Thirteen of the twenty chapters are on the ‘medieval’ period of Chinese history, from the Three Kingdoms era to the end of the Ming Dynasty.
Zhang Longxi is Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Translation at the City University of Hong Kong. Besides being a leading expert on Chinese literature, he is also interested in East-West cross-cultural studies. Click here to view his university webpage.
You can watch this lecture he gave in 2022 on the topic of Circulation and Value Judgement: Rethinking World Literature
You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website