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The Art of Writing: Lu Chi's Wen Fu Paperback – September 14, 2000
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My perspective for these author's work is rooted in my being a modest (unaccomplished) student of Chinese, Indian and Japanese thought and martial arts for more than 30 years. To read Lu Chi, Sam Hamill is transparent - it is like watching Meryl Step play Julia Child, or consummate Aikido proponent, Bob Poresky use Ikkyo to defend against the 15 attacks. Their signature piece is in leaving not a trace of themselves apparent. And like these masterful artists, in this translation it seems that Lu Chi's work rings through effortlessly and true.
Likewise, it also seems to me that Lu Chi's essay is as relevant to martial arts or perhaps any art, as it to writing, at least in several significant ways. He calls for and insists on honesty in work. Each word, no more or less than truth. And how do you know? This book directs you, as well. In similar manner it directs you to where your truth, or story, or character, or interpretation arises. This I suspect is the place where writer's revision takes place, as it is for rehearsal for actors, and training for martial artists.
Heed where Lu Chi directs the writer. Coming from that place seems to be what gives birth to mastery. Lu Chi appears to do all this effortlessly, too by capturing the essence of classical thought. It suggests that, as it appears as true today, in Lu Chi's writing and Sam's honest translation, as it was 17 hundred years ago, is why its called classical.
And as for writers reading this review, Sam's work also illuminated for me why so many accomplished poets translate. This work, which appears to transcends personality, may well define the essence of his character as a writer.
Terry Bowman, author of unReQuiTed
The translation is stentorian and saccharine at the same time. Exactly what Lu Chi wanted author's to avoid.
This is great book for wannabe writers who want to strike up conversations at Starbucks. But to serious writers, look elsewhere for cogent advice on craft.
My copy is on the way back to Amazon.
A final note: there is a version on the internet, translated in 1952 by a Chinese scholar named Shih-Hsiang Chen, which is also worth reading [...]