Masterworks of early Chinese poetry
Dating from the second century AD, this anthology is the second- oldest collection of Chinese poems in existence. The poems, originating from the state of Chu and rooted in Shamanism, are grouped under seventeen titles and contain all that we know of Chinese poetry's ancient beginnings. The earliest poems were composed in the fourth century BC, and almost half of them are traditionally ascribed to Qu Yuan. In his introduction to this edition, David Hawkes provides a fascinating discussion of the history of these poems and their context, styles, and themes.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
Qu Yuan (c. 340 BC-278 BC) was a scholar and a government minister. He is regarded as the first Chinese poet to have his name attributed to his work and his death is commemorated with the famous Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival.
David Hawkes (1923-2009) was a professor of Chinese at Oxford from 1959 to 1971. From 1973 to 1983, he was a research fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and subsequently became an emeritus fellow.
"The Songs of the South is cause for celebration. There is simply no substitute. The text is fundamental to the Chinese tradition, and Hawkes’s introduction itself is a work of wonder. It should be kept in print in perpetuity." — Philip Kafalas, Associate Professor of Chinese, Georgetown University