The Life of Tu Fu

The Life of Tu Fu

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Author: Eliot Weinberger

Publisher: New Directions (2024)

For over fifty years Eliot Weinberger has been celebrated for his innovative literary and political essays—translated into over thirty languages—as well as his trailblazing translations from the Spanish. In his exquisite new book The Life of Tu Fu, Weinberger has composed a montage of fifty-eight poems that capture the life and times of the great Tang Dynasty poet Tu Fu (712–770 AD). As he writes in a note to the edition, “This is not a translation of individual poems, but a fictional autobiography of Tu Fu derived and adapted from the thoughts, images, and allusions in the poetry.” Through lines as penetrating as a classical tanka and as fluid as a mountain stream, themes of endless war and ongoing pandemic surround the wandering life of the ancient Chinese master.

"The trajectory these poems blaze offers contemporary American poetry a distinctive and refreshing approach to what we used to call the human condition. This is a book concerned with mortality, friendship, and regret. The psyche looking back at its life. As such, The Life of Tu Fu sometimes feels like a poetic biography of my own life, or maybe yours."

— Forrest Gander