Du Fu in Vikram Seth’s new book of poetry
By Helen Wang, published
On his new book of poetry, The Rivered Earth, Vikram Seth said...
“Some time ago, when I was between books, I took part in a project that resulted in several remarkable works of music – involving from pen, four very different libretti… It was a collaboration between a writer, a composer and a violinist. It developed over four years with a work produced each year; it took place with the encouragement and within the constraints of three festivals and, indeed, communities; the librettis touched upon three civilisations – Chinese, European and Indian,” Seth said. “The Songs in the Time of War”, the opening panorama of poems and translations of the Chinese poet, Du Fu, who wrote in the 8th century, looks at imperial China in a series of musings, memories and stories from history narrated by Du Fu sailing on the Yangtze river. “In my twenties, I had lived in China for two years, studying at Nanjing University doing research in economics and demography in the nearby villages and travelling around the country whenever I got the chance to do so. I grew to love China – in a complex sort of way,” Seth said….
Vikram Seth has been interested in Du Fu for a while. His book Three Chinese Poets included translations of poems by Wang Wei, Li Bai and Du Fu.