Harvard Magazine reports, "As Shakespeare is to literature in English, so is the poet Du Fu to the Chinese literary tradition. He wrote in the eighth century, during the Tang dynasty, and his work is accessible to modern Chinese readers in a way that English literature of that period—think Beowulf—is not available to readers of modern English. Du Fu, in fact, is still widely quoted in China today, and his influence on Chinese poetry during the past 1,200 years is inescapable. But the poet’s complete works have heretofore been unavailable in English translation.
Ten years in the making, and comprising six volumes and 3,000 pages, The Poetry of Du Fu is the latest published work of Conant University Professor Stephen Owen. Owen’s earlier, monumentally ambitious work—translating an entire anthology of representative Chinese literature by himself, in the 1990s—was described in “Anthologizing as a Radical Act.” At the time, Owen said that in order to preserve the variety of the anthology’s different poetic voices, and prevent the English versions from sounding like the work of one man, he thought of himself as translating a great play with many characters. Doing it all himself, he explained, allowed him to capture literary allusions across centuries, linking each text back to earlier works. Those references could easily have been lost if multiple translator-scholars had worked together on the single volume..."