A Blossom Like No Other Li Qingzhaoby Wei Djao
Li Qingzhao (~ 1084 – 1156 CE) of the Song dynasty is indisputably the most brilliant woman writer in Chinese history. This biography offers an insightful interpretation of her character and a new translation of some of her writings. Wei Djao’s English rendition consistently captures the poet’s elegance, refreshing originality and creativity.
Li Qingzhao lived in a turbulent period in Chinese history when half of China was lost to conquerors and two emperors were taken into captivity never to return to China. In this well-researched and eminently readable narrative, the events of her life are set against the backdrop of political and socio-cultural developments in the Song Dynasty.
Li Qingzhao in her extant poems expresses many different moods and feelings about personal relationships that still resonate poignantly with the readers today. In her more political works she mocks the emperor and high officials of her day for their cowardice in the face of attack and occupation of northern China by invaders. Her versatility is also shown in a trilogy about a gambling game known as dama (Whipping Horse).
In one of her poems, Li Qingzhao sings praise of the small but exquisite plum blossom that buds forth in deep winter, symbolizing the human qualities of integrity and endurance. It is a blossom like no other. It very aptly describes her own life.
“So much research into Chinese history, yet the book makes such pleasant reading because of the strong point it makes about the character of an unusual woman. As a native Chinese speaker/reader, I have had great joy in savouring the beautiful verses in Chinese and then admiring the flowing translation in English.”
– Dora Choi Po-king, Chinese University of Hong Kong
“The author provides a prodigious amount of information about Li Qingzhao, and the socio-political background of Song China. Undoubtedly, A Blossom Like No Other, written in an easy and fluent style, sets a new standard for scholarly works in this genre.”
– Allen Wittenborn, San Diego State University
“The clear writing style makes the indomitable Li Qingzhao and her exquisite poetry accessible to lay people and Chinese literature experts alike. The last chapter presented in the name of Li Qingzhao is the most creative in every conceivable way.”
– Helen Wu, University of Toronto
“With profound imagination and learning in literature, history, and philosophy of both China and the West, Wei Djao has achieved something quite monumental: conveying Li Qingzhao’s unsurpassed literary achievement as palpably human and distinctly memorable for the English speaking readers.”
– Howard Xie, North Seattle Community College
“Wei Djao has succeeded in transcending the language barriers by meticulously translating Li Qingzhao’s songs into equally beautiful English with poetic rhythm.”
– Liqun Cao, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
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