Reply To: Reading through the Non Western Canon

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I finally finished the David Young translation of Su Dongpo’s poems. It’s a great collection, but somewhat limited as Young decided to translate no ci or prose poems. So i’m glad I found the french anthology that not only has some poems, but also essays which are organized in 4 sections : politics, art, history and a more miscellaneous one. If you can read french, i would really recommend you go for this book instead of an anthology that only has poems. I remember reading once, somewhere, that Cicero had said that Aristotle prose (that is unfortunately lost to us) was a flowing river of gold. And somehow, reading Su Dongpo made me think of that. I can imagine Aristotle writing that way. I that river idea seems “very su dongpo”. There is a tranquility, a liquidity, a flowing aspect to what he writes, that is very pleasant, and yet, underneath that first impressions, his texts are overflowing with ideas. Some texts are still very “modern” (not sure this is precisely what i want to say). One in particular, title of which is Sur les obstacles (on obstacles), in french, seems to defend something akin to republicanism (as understood by Skinner and Pettit).

On another topic. Back to Dream of the red chamber (which i will finish next week). As a companion reading, i’ve been reading Reflection on Dream of the Red Chamber, by Zaifu Liu. It’s an amazing books, and it helped me understand tons of things better. And i wanted also to mention, that a sort of a reading guide to Dream, had just been published in english : A companion to The story of the Stone, by Susan Chan Egan and Pai Hsien Yung. It’s a chapter by chapter analysis of Cao Xueqin’s book. Should make for a boring read, but it might help those, like me, not familiar with chinese culture.