19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated

19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated

Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz / Feb 21, 2020

Ways of Looking at Wang Wei How a Chinese Poem is Translated Nineteen different translations of a single poem with comments on each version by Eliot Weinberger and introduction contributed by Octavio Paz

  • Title: 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated
  • Author: Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz
  • ISBN: 9780918825148
  • Page: 168
  • Format: Paperback
  • Nineteen different translations of a single poem with comments on each version by Eliot Weinberger and introduction contributed by Octavio Paz.

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    • ¼ 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese Poem is Translated || ↠ PDF Read by ☆ Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz
      168 Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz
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      Posted by:Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz
      Published :2018-09-03T07:54:53+00:00

    About "Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz"

      • Eliot Weinberger Wang Wei Octavio Paz

        Eliot Weinberger is a contemporary American writer, essayist, editor, and translator His work regularly appears in translation and has been published in some thirty languages Weinberger first gained recognition for his translations of the Nobel Prize winning writer and poet Octavio Paz His many translations of the work of Paz include the Collected Poems 1957 1987, In Light of India, and Sunstone Among Weinberger s other translations are Vicente Huidobro s Altazor, Xavier Villaurrutia s Nostalgia for Death, and Jorge Luis Borges Seven Nights His edition of Borges Selected Non Fictions received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.


    1. After reading Weinberger’s An Elemental Thing, I knew that, sooner or later, I’d have to have more of Weinberger’s work under my belt. After biding my time, watching for an inexpensive used copy and to make up a minimum order that qualified for free shipping, I finally ordered and received this one. Good for me. I’d read the GR description of 19 Ways, but somehow I’d decided it would be ‘about’ Wang Wei’s short poem in the same way that An Elemental Thing is about whatever-the-he [...]

    2. In this book Eliot Weinberger examines the difficulties inherent in translating classic Chinese poetry into Western languages by considering a special case in detail: he selects one poem by Wang Wei (699/701 - 761), romanizes it, gives a literal translation and then considers 16 different translators' versions of the poem in English, French and Spanish. In my review /review/showof a book of translations of Wang's poetry I discuss some of the difficulties one necessarily encounters in such transl [...]

    3. 空山不見人,但聞人語響。返景入深林,復照青苔上。-鹿寨王维Short, ingenious little work showing the text of a short Chinese poem by Wang Wei, written in the 8th century, (reproduced above), a literal transliteration, and just over a dozen alternate translations. Some of these are ghastly, and some manage to preserve much of the poem's original meaning, its direct clarity, but even provide a new interpretation of it. Shows how much the styles of translation have changed [...]

    4. I came across this book almost by chance – I thought I might like it, but I didn't expect to be chuckling most of the way through. Weinberger has taken a classic poem by Wang Wei (the 8th century Tang poet) and pursued it through 75 years of translation. A few versions are excellent; a few are awful. Weinberger is good at annotating the excellence, but even funnier elucidating the inept.I read the book in less than an hour and enjoyed every minute. Well, maybe not the last few. The "Further Co [...]

    5. I gave the book five stars not so much because I always agree with Weinberger's critique of translated poems (he does focus on the negatives more than the positives), but because it's been a while since I learned so much about poetry and translation in such a little space (a mere 51 pages, with plenty of white space in between). Brilliant and simple.

    6. Eliot Weinberger’s 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (subtitled “How a Chinese Poem is Translated”) presents Wang Wei’s famous “Deer Park” poem in 19 versions: Chinese, transliterated Chinese (Pinyin), and a word-by-word rendering, then in 16 (or so) translations with Weinberger’s comments. (The translations are primarily into English, although a Spanish version and two French versions are also included.)From the title, which appears to be inspired by Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen W [...]

    7. Informative little book on the translation of poetry out of ancient Chinese. Not something you would use everyday, but, in other ways, something we need all the time.

    8. I loved the idea of looking at so many translations (at least 30, despite the title) of the same poem from 8th century Chinese into a variety of 20th century Indo-European languages, and my favorite part of this book was creating my own version based on the character-by-character translation before reading the others to compare and contrast. Though Weinberger may be a lovely poet or translator in his own right, as a linguist, his text was my least favorite part of the book as it contained absurd [...]

    9. Especially given that this slim volume is barely 50 pages long, I unhesitatingly recommend it to just about anyone who is even vaguely conscious about what they read, especially if they regularly read anything in translation. On its surface, and a gossamer-thin surface it is, this book is a comparative-literature exercise, with its laser focus on a single, four-line Chinese poem by Wang Wei, dated from about 1200 years ago. Per the title, there are 19 translations investigated by Eliot Weinberge [...]

    10. It is of course interesting to read 19 different translations of the same poem. What is less interesting is Weinberger's commentary, which to me came across as obnoxious, pedantic, and occasionally quite contentious. Though, to be fair, SOME of his observations are interesting (he notes, for instance, the number of words they use - a seemingly obvious point, but one that I didn't really think about). Still, overall, I found him more grating than anything else.

    11. I'm taking a workshop on translation next semester, and my professor assigned this book to us ahead of time. I have learned more than I expected to about the difficulties of translation, particularly the problem of ego inherent to a poet's translation of another poet, from this tiniest of books. The snarky comments about various translations of Wang Wei's short poem are wonderful. My personal favorite: "To me this sounds like Gerard Manley Hopkins on LSD"

    12. I love the premise of this book: it shows the Chinese characters of one of Wang Wei's poems, then the transliteration, then the literal translation, then 16 published translations in chronological order. It's the kind of thing I'd like to see done with lots of different poems, though that might get impractical. It's a great way to start thinking about translation and how one's own priorities and ideas about it fit into what's already going on.

    13. Super-fascinating and exhaustively investigated, but Weinberger's attitude is so snotty and judgy that I just resist the hell out of his ideas and I kind of want to flick his ear.

    14. This is an intriguing look at poetry and translation, unfortunately it is full of Weinberger's unexamined biases about the goals of translation. It is clear, though he never quite says it, th translators should stray hardly if at all from original poem. Clearly, however, many of the translators included in the translation disagree, undoubtedly seeing other ways to translate a poem a millenia plus old, not only for another language, but another culture as well. It is Weinberger's flaw that he der [...]

    15. My GoodReads Scale:5 - Best ever. These books changed me.4 - Great. Highly recommend/couldn't put it down.3 - Good, but not great.2 - I did not like/enjoy it, but I can see the appeal or talent for others.1 - No, absolutely not. Do not read.3S Review: A book translating what seems to be a simple poem, 19 different ways. In these short pages, the author will provide a fascinating picture of poetry and translation.Opinion: I do believe there is a lot of over analyzation of poetry and this is no di [...]

    16. Dear poetry, It's not you, it's me. Such a short book and yet the pages seemed to go on forever. Yes, translation is a very interesting subject but somehow near the middle part I was ready to finish. I guess it didn't help the fact that I was reading it in a crowded waiting room and the doctor was running late so I ended up waiting almost an hour for my appointment.I liked the analysis done to the metrics of poetry but the author's comments on a couple of translations should have been shorter.I [...]

    17. Why a *** rating for a ***** book? Simple, really, one word will suffice: tone. Since this judgment is somewhat subjective, perhaps attitude would be more precise.In my mind, this is, in its intent and execution, one of the finest books on translation (into English) written. It is a must for those reading poetry in translation. Further comments, found after the main text and written by Octavio Paz, is excellent, indeed ***** all around. Weinberger would have done well to look to Paz's critical t [...]

    18. The concept of this book is great: use one poem as the constant to measure and compare the comparisons of translations from nineteen different translators. Weiberger's punchy compilation doesn't so much speak to the work of Wang Wei, but says volumes about the art of translation and the nature of translators. For anyone interested in languages and translation, this is a must read.

    19. A 2016 small book that fascinates with taking one Chinese poemthrough nineteen iterations by a different poet. The changes and emphasisgiven to each one are an educating look at how much a translationcan change. Great fun for a poetry reader.

    20. This is fascinating. One poem - sooo many variations due to translation, transliteration, interpretation. This isn't just about this one poem but about all books, stories, and parables that have been translated over and over again and how much they change.

    21. Interesting short work examining an ancient Chinese poem and its many translations and interpretations. Worth reading especially for translators and students of poetry.

    22. I read this solely for the read harder challenge, as I'm not usually into poetry. I liked this concept and it was well done, poetry is just difficult for me to get into.

    23. 2017 Read Harder Challenge - a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. Thanks to Erin for recommending this short book!

    24. This a very unusual book that I’ve gone back to time and time again over the years, fascinating for anyone interested in poetry, language, the mysteries of translation. It’s quite short and can be read in 30 minutes, or savored over a lifetime.The subject of the book is a brief poem of four lines written in the 8th century by Wang Wei, a Chinese Buddhist poet, painter and calligrapher. On each pair of facing pages, the author presents a version or translation of the poem, and commentary on t [...]

    25. He's absolutely scathing in his commentary, but in doing so, he gives you an understanding of what a "perfect," translation really is.

    26. At 51 pages, lots of blank pages, some pages with little text on them, and 19 versions of the same poem, this is an easy one-sit read. His latest collection has been getting rave reviews (amazon ran out of stock on it for a bit),, but I started out with "An Elemental Thing", and have been hooked since. Paz' "official" translator, he has also delved into Chinese poetry. Having been a Pound freak in my youth, this is a nice return to Western translation of Chinese traditional/ancient/classical poe [...]

    27. This is a fun little book that traces the ways that a single poem from the Tang dynasty has been translated into English (and a few other languages) throughout history. It really opened my eyes to the challenges that translators face, and the ethical and political impact that their choices have. Most of Weinberger's close readings of the translations were helpful, although in some cases I thought he was too polemical. He has a very strong opinion about the "proper" way of translating this poem, [...]

    28. A slim volume that, as the title declares presents a quatrain by Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei (699-759) in 19 "servings": original calligraphic characters, transliteration, character-by-character translation, and then 16 translations ranging over 3 languages (1 Spanish, 2 French, and 13 English) and 60 years' of effort.Weinberger's critiques of different translations are insightful across-the-board, and offer a delightful portion of snark when discussing some of the more unfortunate translation ch [...]

    29. Just four lines long, the ancient Chinese poem 'Deer Park', by Buddhist poet Wang Wei, has inspired poets and translators through the ages. Eliot Weinberger's '19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei' collects nineteen different translations in English, Spanish and French, along with commentary by Weinberger and Octavio Paz. Reading so many variatons of one text, without being able to access the original directly, has a curiously meditative effect, at once enlightening and humbling, as the 'real' meaning [...]

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