Anonymous Blurb for

The Poetry of the Tang Dynasty

Chinese literature is generally considered to be worthy of interest, and the lyric poetry of the Tang Dynasty (our 8th century), in particular, is recognized as Chinese literature's greatest moment.

Nevertheless, Hervey-Saint-Denis' 1862 translation (the first one in French) has not been reprinted, nor has there been a notable continuation of its project, since then.

The public that, today, believes that it is more and more cultivated and well-informed closely resembles the public that believes it is better and better nourished and housed. Although China has been fashionable these last few years,[1] French publishers have only provided mediocre translations and commentaries[2] that are as literate as Giscard d'Estaing.[3] He recently reigned in Peking, where his dynasty only lasted three weeks.

Diverse contemporary sinologists have also tried to translate or re-translate several short classic poems, but their work has come to nothing. Perhaps not due to their failure to understand Chinese as well as Hervey-Saint-Denis did, but assuredly because they hadn't quite mastered French, which renders their work on poetic language even more desperate than elsewhere.

Thus, this is the principal and best translation of Chinese poetry in French.

[1] No doubt a reference to Rene Vienet, a former member of the Situationist International who produced two detourned films about Chinese politics, La Dialectique Peut-Elle Casser Des Briques? (1973) and Chinois, encore un effort pour etre revolutionnaires (1977), and who wrote prefaces to the French edition of Harold Isaac's The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (1967) and Simon Leys' Les Habits neufs du president Mao, chronique de la Revolution culturelle (1971).

[2] The French here includes a very obscure phrase, une sorte de Deroulede du Milieu, which might be a reference to Paul Deroulede (1846-1914), a French poet and right-wing politician. Thus: a kind of Paul Deroulede of the Milieu, with "milieu" perhaps referring to the hip scene in footnote [1] above (?). Le Milieu can also mean "the Underworld."

[3] Giscard became the French President in 1974. His first official trip to China was in 1980.

(Though uncredited, this text by Guy Debord was published as the foreword to Editions Champ Libre's February 1977 reprint of Poesies de l'epoque des T'ang, which was a collection of poems translated into French by Marie-Jean-Leon Lecoq [aka the Marquis Hervey-St.-Denis] and first published in 1862. Debord's text translated and footnoted by NOT BORED! July 2009.)

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