To celebrate the dawning of the Year of the Horse, it’s time to read about China.
The London Review Bookshop recommends an introduction to Chinese poetry, including original calligraphy and literal translation as well as English translations of the poems, which is a great way in. I have been looking for something for this for a while, since I found a Japanese book in the same style on woman haiku writer Chiyo-ni.
Another great suggestion from LRB is “China in 10 Words” by Yu Hua, a sharp analysis of his own country from his childhood in during the Cultural Revolution to today. His ten words are:
People, leader, reading, writing, revolution
Disparity, grassroots, copycat, bamboozle, Lu Xun
So far, so clear; and bamboozle is a great word. But who is Lu Xun?
Essayist, author of poetry and prose and translator, he is a central figure in modern Chinese literature who shaped the May 4th Movement, though he never joined the Communist Party. You can find some of his stories and poems in English translation online. As his expert translator into English, Julia Lovell, says, “his is an angry, searing vision of China.”
If you had to introduce your birth land in 10 words, what would you choose? It works best if you don’t think about it for too long. Here’s my list for Wales:
Mountains, sea, parochialism, dispossession, dragon