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Laughter and Tears - Translation of Selected Kunqu Dramas


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Laughter and Tears
- Translation of Selected Kunqu Dramas (Bilingual English-Chinese)
Translation by Ben Wang
Published by Foreign Languages Press, 1st edition, 6/2009
Binding: Paperback, 24.9 x 14.2 cm, 417 pages
ISBN: 9787119057293


With a history of more than 500 years, Kunqu ruled as the predominant classical theatre during the Ming and the Qing dynasties in China. Proclaimed by the United Nations in 2001 as "a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity," Kunqu stands today as the towering dramatic and musical genre, in which beauty reigns supreme. In this bilingual book in Chinese and English, a selection of 26 translated highlight scenes from 9 outstanding Kunqu plays is presented, including The Peony Pavilion, The Eternal Palace, among others. All the translations are based on the versions as how they are performed on stage. These scenes are translated into an English marked by a poetic flow and elegance to match the original classical language of Kunqu, whose quintessential spirit is poetry. This bilingual book may enable the readers to savour the riveting Kunqu tales through appreciation of both languages. Furthermore, this book may well serve as a textbook lesson to the effort of translating classical Chinese dramas into non-Chinese languages, when they are presented outside of China.

Media opinion:

Highly recommended by leading Chinese writers Kenneth Hsien-yung Pai and Yu Qiuyu, and prominent U.S. opera stage director Peter McClintock.

Acclaimed by James Oestreich, drama and music critic of the New York Times, as "magnificent," "captivating" and "colorful".

Kunqu's aesthetic accomplishments are supreme among Chinese traditional operas, and it enjoys the laudatory title of "Ancestor to all Chinese Dramas."
--Kenneth Hsien-yung Pai

I have always hoped Ben Wang’s translations could be published in a bilingual edition. This would not only enable many readers to experience the dual blessing of appreciating two languages at once by means of these beautiful stories, but could also serve as a reference for how to translate performances by Chinese troupes touring abroad.
--Yu Qiuyu

About the translator:

Ben Wang is Senior Lecturer of Language and Humanities at China Institute and he also teaches Chinese at the United Nations. He has lectured extensively on classical Chinese literature, literati painting, calligraphy and theater at Columbia University, Yale University, Williams College, New York University, the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, the Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. As a translator, Mr. Wang received the National Prize in literature translation awarded by the National Literary Association of Taiwan. He was awarded Outstanding Citizen of New York City by the New York City Council in 2003. Since 1989, Mr. Wang has translated 39 classical Chinese poetic dramas into English.

Excerpt from the preface:

In this book are my translations of some of the most beautiful and celebrated poetic dramas of Kunqu. A teacher of classical Chinese drama and literature, I've translated these worthy works for productions of the New York Kunqu Society. All my translations are based on the Chinese versions, as they were performed by the Shanghai Kunqu Troupe. I've also written all the synopses of these Kunqu plays, both as a point of interest and to make clear the outlines of the stories, from which the fascinating high-light scenes are derived.
The poetic dramas that I have translated are from the repertoire of the 500-year old Kunqu, the Chinese theater in which poetry reigns supreme. Written by masters of poetry and drama during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, these poetic librettos have been a major literary genre from the 15th century down to the present day. Holding Kunqu in high esteem, members of the intelligentsia in China have for centuries formed literary and music societies to write, study, appreciate and sing these Kunqu lyrics. This poetic and dramatic genre remains today the predominant classical theater of China.
To understand the concept based on which Kunqu was created, we must look to a collection of 300 songs-turned poems that is called The Book of Songs, which is the fountainhead of all things related to Chinese culture. The quintessence of The Book of Songs is well captured in an introductory note by Mao Gong, a major scholar of the Han dynasty around 200 B.C., which reads: "As we humans have feelings, we express them through speech."

出版社: 外文出版社,2009年6月1日



汪班先生长年在美国向美国学生讲授中国诗词书画,他本人不仅娴熟中国诗词传统,而且英文根基扎实,中诗英译,十分在行。加以汪班又曾经票过戏,工小生、小丑,舞台上的戏剧效果,他当然认识深刻。难怪历年汪班所作昆曲讲座以及翻译,纽约时报音乐评论家James Oestreich 评为 “气象万千” (1998.7)、“引人入胜” (1998.8),以及“多彩多姿” (2003.9)。白先勇先生也评价说:“他的昆剧选译,生动活泼,趣味盎然,处处透露巧思,很容易引起观众和读者的共鸣。”



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  • Model: b00kunqud
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  • Recognized Brand: Drama

This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 14 July, 2012.

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