396 China Review International: Vol. 7, No. 2, Fall 2000 Anne Birrell. Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1993. xiv, 226 pp. Paperback $12.95, ISBN 0824815483. The University of Hawai`i Press is to be commended for reissuing Anne Birrell's acclaimed translation and analysis of Han dynasty yuefu verse. Originally published in Great Britain in 1988, this work still remains the best study in English on the anonymous Han songs. The book opens with an essay that outlines what is known about the tradition, including an account of the institution called the Music Bureau, a discussion of the sources of the various song texts and the tradition that collected and categorized them, and very informative treatments of the orality and musical aspects of the songs. Then follow eleven chapters named for thematic categories derived by Birrell herself: hymns, fables, the elixir of life, carpe diem, burial songs, political broadsides, antiwar ballads, domestic drama, homeward thoughts, love songs, and the ideal home and perfect marriage. These chapters include translations and explications of a total of seventy-seven songs. The reissue of Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China in paperback will enable teachers to assign
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 1, 2000
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