Liu Tsung-yuan

Written in Exile

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After a failed push for political reform, the T’ang era’s greatest prose-writer, Liu Tsung-yuan, was exiled to the southern reaches of China. Thousands of miles from home and freed from the strictures of court bureaucracy, he turned his gaze inward and chronicled his estrangement in poems. Liu’s fame as a prose writer, however, overshadowed his accomplishment as a poet. Three hundred years after Liu died, the poet Su Tung-p’o ranked him as one of the greatest poets of the T’ang, along with Tu Fu, Li Pai, and Wei Ying-wu. And yet Liu is unknown in the West, with fewer than a dozen poems published in English translation. The renowned translator Red Pine discovered Liu’s poetry during his travels throughout China and was compelled to translate 140 of the 146 poems attributed to Liu. As Red Pine writes, “I was captivated by the man and by how he came to write what he did.” Appended with thoroughly researched notes, an in-depth introduction, and the Chinese originals, Written in Exile presents the long-overdue introduction of a legendary T’ang poet.
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233 printed pages
Original publication
2020
Translator
Red Pine

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