28 February 17 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Russell Guilbault on the new edition of 19 Ways of Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger, published by New Directions.

Russell did a brief interning stint at Open Letter toward the end of last year, and in addition to helping the way most interns do with the smaller tasks of a given day at the press, was a great asset with his knowledge of Chinese literature. It was interesting for me to talk to someone about 19 Ways nearly ten years after I myself first read it, and to see that the text still made an impression, and still made people giddy to talk about the process and critique of translations.

Here’s a bit of Russell’s review:

Weinberger makes short work of the early twentieth-century practices of versifying the poems, rendering them in eloquent nineteenth-century language, and “improving” the original with unwarranted additions. Most of the translations reviewed are torn to bits in the space of a few paragraphs, or less. For instance, his evaluation of Liu’s 1962 verse translation: “. . . the first two lines heave, the third gasps, and the fourth falls with a thud on the rhyming mossy ground.” Weinberger tears apart “the corset of traditional verse forms,” allowing the very intentional style of the Chinese to show itself.


For the rest of the review, go here.


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