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April 22 , 2009

Passion, Poverty and Travel

Traditional Hakka Songs and Ballads


Translations from Chinese popular literature of the late-imperial and early republican periods are still very rare, and selections that are devoted to a specific genre or dialect rarer still. These translations of traditional Hakka popular literature are not only a contribution to a broader knowledge of traditional Chinese folk literature, but also contribute to the study of Hakka culture as reflected in these racy songs and exciting narratives.

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This book is the first extensive selection in English of traditional Hakka mountain songs (shange) and long narrative ballads in various genres. One chapter is devoted to songs and ballads on Hakka migration to Taiwan and Southeast Asia in 18th to 20th centuries. The selection of mountain songs is primarily based on a collection compiled before 1949. The ballads selected focus on texts that were widely popular in late-Qing and early Republican times, but post-Liberation performances and new compositions have been included for contrast. All translations are provided with an introduction and annotations.

  • Mountain Songs:
    • Mountain Songs collected by Huang Zunxian
    • Mountain Songs collected by Zhong Jingwen
    • Mountain Songs collected by Luo Xianglin
    • Mountain Songs collected by Li Jinfa
    • More Declarations of Love and of Despair
  • Narrative Ballads:
    • Ten-Mile Pavilion
    • The Tale of Tang Xian
    • Selling Lanterns
  • Bamboo-Clappers Songs:
    • Gao Wenju
    • Liang Sizhen and Zhao Yulin
    • Second-Hand Zhang Rents out his Wife
    • Morals and More
  • Migration and Emigration:
    • Push and Pull
    • Destination Taiwan
    • Destination Singapore and Beyond
  • Appendices:
    • An Old and a New Ten-Mile Pavilion
    • An Alternative Gao Wenju
    • The Slave Girl's Lament: A Revolutionary Bamboo-Clappers Song
    • The Lost Romance of the Career of Yap Ah Loy

Readership: Students and general public who are interested in understanding traditional Chinese folk literature and Hakka culture.
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