PAI Hsien-yung 白先勇 (born in Kweilin on 11 July 1937), one of the most celebrated fiction writers of global sinophone literature, is the 2003 recipient of the National Award for the Arts, the most prestigious life-achievement recognition from Taiwan.
Crystal Boys 孽子 is widely known as the first gay novel in twentieth-century literature written in Chinese. First published in 1983, it was issued twice in traditional Chinese characters in Taiwan, seven times in simplified Chinese characters in the People’s Republic of China, and pirated once in Hong Kong while in serialization in Modern Literature 現代文學, a journal founded by Pai in the fifties. Hugely acclaimed and critically canonized, Crystal Boys was filmed in 1986, made into a television series in 2003, and adapted into a play in English in 1997 and in Chinese in 2014 (this version teleplayed by Taiwan Public Broadcasting in 2015). Besides this English rendition by Howard Goldblatt, the novel is available in French, German, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, and Vietnamese translations.
Since his retirement as a professor of Chinese from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Pai Hsien-yung has become an ardent promoter and producer of the traditional Kun operatic theatre and is responsible for the worldwide success of the new version of The Peony Pavilion. Amidst the many Kun activities, Pai found time to research the legacies of his father and came up with two major works on Pai Chung-hsi, a decorated four-star general of the Second World War. In 2016 and 2017, the long-anticipated three-volume close reading of Dreams of the Red Chamber 細說紅樓夢 was issued in Taipei and Beijing respectively. Multiflorate Splendour 奼紫嫣紅開遍, a documentary film on Pai’s career, was released in Taipei and Hong Kong in 2016.
The perception of Hong Kong as materially successful and culturally marginal is a common one. The city, sheltered from the Chinese political tsunamis, has in fact developed a distinctive character that is reflected in her literary scene. It has been a safe haven for writers on the run, a cradle for genres unwelcome to the Beijing government, a battleground between ‘Left’ and ‘Right’, and a confluence of East and West, popular and high-brow. Works collected in this anthology, spanning three quarters of a century, show how local literature engaged with the dominant discourses of Chinese culture while exploring the pains and possibilities of a fast-developing metropolis. Taken in total, they reveal the emergence of the ‘Hong Kong identity’.
To Pierce the Material Screen:
An Anthology of 20th-Century Hong Kong Literature (2 vols.)
The song lyric (ci), which began as a form of minor divertissement in the urban pleasure quarters of eighth and ninth century China, evolved into a major, and then dominant, poetic form over the four centuries that followed. Though most of the original tunes are now lost, the lyric remains unrivalled among Chinese literary genres for musicality and sheer evocative power. It was also, until modern times, the preferred vehicle for the expression of romantic love.
The 128 poems in this collection are chosen to represent the genre’s major stylistic developments and the varied talents of its best poets. These poems have been translated by some of the most respected scholars and translators in Chinese literary studies. Now English readers may share in the pleasure that the lyric has afforded its Chinese aficionados for over a thousand years.
Alice W. Cheang, the editor, read English at Yale University and earned her Ph.D. degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.
This title is also available in the Renditions Paperbacks series.
This anthology of seventy-four representative essays from the 3rd century to the late 20th century is the first of its kind in a Western language. The translations are prefaced by an informative historical survey as well as commentaries on each author. It offers readers a unique opportunity to sample the best from a genre central to the Chinese literary tradition.
David E. Pollard, the editor and translator, served as Chair Professor of Chinese at London University from 1979 to 1989, and Chair Professor of Translation at The Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1989 to 1997.
The second half of the 19th century saw the emergence of a new consciousness in Chinese society. Questions concerning China’s position in the world and her relationship with Western powers were the subject of nationwide debate. Here the author Li Boyuan (1861-1906), a journalist and editor, combines the traditional form of the Chinese novel with the new thinking which characterized China’s transformation. The issues which are at the heart of Modern Times are still of great relevance to China’s current debates on globalization.
Douglas Lancashire, the translator, was born in Tianjin, China. From 1966 until his retirement, he held the foundation chair of Chinese at Auckland University.
Sima Qian (145?–90? BC) is the first major Chinese historian. His Records of the Grand Historian chronicles the history of China and much of the adjacent world from the remote past to his own time. These three volumes contain a new translation of the history of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC) and a revised version of the Han dynasty (from 206 up to c. 90 BC) portion of the Records. Western readers will value this book not only for its historical importance, but perhaps even more for Sima Qian’s warm interest in people.
Burton Watson is a world-renowned translator of Chinese and Japanese literature.
From the Tang dynasty to the present day, for over 1,200 years, classical poetry in the form of regulated verse has been arguably the most popular literary art form in China. Its long tradition has been kept alive by the innumerable prolific masters of the genre, and appreciated by the widest possible audience from the highly educated to the man in the street. Lines and phrases from well-known poems have found their way into the langue of the common people. This volume contains the works of leading poets through the ages, complemented by scholarly explications of the art of Chinese poetry.
The early 1980s saw a new lease of life in the literary circle in mainland China as well as a corresponding increase in literary creativity in Taiwan and Hong Kong. This book is a landmark publication which captures the spirit of innovation in the work of young writers from all three places.
The works collected here include essays, fiction, poetry and drama. Of particular interest is the section on ‘Misty Poetry’ by a new generation of mainland Chinese poets, introduced here to English readers for the first time. Many of them are now well known internationally.
Stephen Soong was founding editor of Renditions. John Minford, the co-editor, is the translator of the last forty chapters of The Story of the Stone.
The twenty-five T’ang-dynasty poets included in this index were active from the 7th to the 9th century which marked the zenith of China’s classical poetic tradition. They were the most influential poets of their time, and also the most widely translated into English.
Entries are listed by poet; a first-line index and a translator index are also included. Over 12,000 English translations are listed. Readers can also trace the source of a poem by referring to the comprehensive bibliography.
Major works of popular Chinese fiction from the mid-Ch’ing to the early Republican eras (late 19th century to early 20th century), as well as critical studies of such works. Among the translators for this anthology are leading Sinologists and the novelist Eileen Chang.
Liu Ts’un-yan, the editor, is Emeritus Professor of Chinese at the Australian National University and an expert in the field of Chinese fiction.
China boasts of the world’s oldest continuous historical records, and the study of history has always been one of the most respected fields in her scholarly tradition. One of the best ways to understand Chinese culture is therefore through a study of Chinese views on and approaches to history. The twelve articles collected in this anthology are the work of leading Chinese and Western specialists. They write to illuminate the various aspects of Chinese history and historiography, and in that process, throw light on China’s multi-faceted cultural heritage.
George Kao is founding editor of Renditions.
A collection of sixty lyrical poems written by a leading Song-dynasty poet Fan Ch’eng-ta (1126-1193) and translated by the English poet and novelist Gerald Bullett. The verse translations are complemented by an introduction to the translation approach. This is a bilingual edition, with the original Chinese texts written in elegant calligraphy, and amply illustrated with Chinese landscape paintings. This book won the AAUP Design Award in 1982.
‘Tz’u’ [Ci] means ‘song words’ in Chinese. The genre originated as lyrics written to music, sung and enjoyed by the common people. Its popular appeal continued after its adoption by the literati. Tz’u poetry reached its peak in the Song dynasty (AD 10th to 12th century) and still stands as one of the major achievements of China’s poetic tradition.
Comprising nine critical essays and translations of eight representative poets, this volume presents a comprehensive survey of the history of the genre as well as the achievements of individual writers. Contributors to this volume include many leading scholars of classical Chinese literature in the West and in China.
The Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) wrecked the lives of millions of Chinese people; writers and intellectuals were particularly vulnerable. The two writers whose works are represented here both had their lives changed irrevocably in the course of this violent period.
Lao Shê (1899–1966), an established novelist well known for his criticisms of the ills of traditional Chinese society, was persecuted to death at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Chen Jo-hsi (1938– ), a young writer at the time, was born in Taiwan but went to live in the PRC during the first seven years of the Cultural Revolution. Her experience there resulted in the novel The Execution of Mayor Yin (1976), the first book to give readers a realistic glimpse of life during the Cultural Revolution.
George Kao was founding editor of Renditions.
The Tang-Song period (AD 8th to 12th century) is regarded as the golden age of Chinese prose. The eight classical prose masters represented in this anthology were the motivating force of a literary movement which aimed at moral regeneration as well as stylistic restoration. Their success in extending the range of the prose genre and reinvigorating its style made them household names in China’s literary tradition.
Shih Shun Liu, the translator, served as Research Professor at St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y. and is a leading scholar of classical Chinese literature.