I’ve just run across a nearly 350 page book entitled Chinese through Poetry: An Introduction to the Language and Imagery of Traditional Verse by A.C. Barnes (1931-2002), who taught Chinese at the University of Durham. And though I’ve just skimmed and sampled sections here and there, I’d like to heartily recommend it to you, no matter where you are in your Chinese language studies.
The first astounding thing about this work: it is perhaps the first book to approach Chinese language learning through verse instead of prose.
Second: It is a free PDF download made available by the late author’s family.
There are others of you out there like me, no doubt, who were first drawn to the Chinese language because of the art of its characters, or because you wanted to read Chinese poetry or philosophical works in the original language, but who had no choice but to tackle Chinese along the lines of “Chapter 1: Restaurant and Banquet Vocabulary.”
Here, this book, “a book which was built on a life of learning and teaching,” like a gift, is what we should have found instead.
From the Web site established by the family of Mr. Barnes:
You can download the book at http://www.archiebarnes.com/.
The site also suggests that English translations by Mr. Barnes of 131 Chinese poems are coming soon, and you’ll also notice a link to Archie’s “VOLATS” creation (”Vocabulary Learning and Testing System”), which he developed to help his students learn vocabulary and used himself to learn such languages as Cornish and Gaelic.