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About the author
Evelyn Eaton (1902-1983) was born in Montreux, Switzerland to Anglophile Canadian parents, and educated in England and France. She began writing while still in her teens; her first collection of poems was published in England in 1923 (the same year that she was presented at court) and her first novel in 1925. Her adult life was rich and varied: she became an American citizen at the age of 42, and was a war correspondent in China, Burma and India in 1945, then a lecturer at Columbia University from 1949 to 1951. Partly Native American (related to the Algonquians of New Brunswick) her later years became increasingly focused on Native American culture and mysticism. She wrote thirteen novels, five volumes of poetry, two collections of short stories, and seven other books. For many years she was a contributor to The New Yorker and other journals. Go Ask the River was her last novel.
Here is the haunting story of the great female poet Hung Tu, who flourished in the ninth century during one of the great periods of Chinese literature. The daughter of a Government official far from the capital, on the Silk River, she was, most unusually, brought up with her brothers whom she far outshone. Falling on evil times, her father sells her to the best Blue House on the Silk River. Hung Tu's poetry and calligraphy bring her great renown, and the story traces her rise from Flower-in-the-Mist to Official Hostess at the court of the governors of the Silk City, and her love affair with the poet Yuan Chen. Set against the backdrop of the scholars, poets, officials, and warring factions of ninth century China, this wonderful story reconstructs one of the great periods of China - turbulent, cruel, yet with a sense of beauty remarkable by any standards and in any age. Go Ask the River is a tale not only of historical China, but of the human struggle to discover how to be alive.'Throughout runs the Taoist Philosophy - the Eight Signs of the Golden Flower, the meaning of Tao, the place of women in Oriental society. Hung Tu emerges as a vibrant figure, radiating a sense of beauty, balance, and well-being.' - Montreal Star'The stylized sensuality of the world that Miss Eaton writes about is so clearly defined by the cool simplicity of her language that as we read this tale of ninth-century China we see that it all happened just as she tells it, and her characters are as real to us as though we read about them in the newspapers every day.' - The New Yorker'A many-splendored trip through a rainbow world.' - Publishers Weekly
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
; December 2011
288 pages; ISBN 9780857010759Read online
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Title: Go Ask the River
Author: Chungliang Al Huang; Evelyn Eaton
In the press
Emotionally restrained in the manner of the Chinese society of Hung Tu's time, Go Ask the River tells a meticulously imagined story of Hung Tu's life from childhood to old age. Drawing on subtle hints from her poetry and combining these with a richly textured understanding of eighth-century Chinese life, it creates a moving, though never openly passionate, story about a woman required to discipline her emotions in order to serve powerful men with grace and dignity... hung Tu's Poetry, using garden and nature metaphors to suggest feelings that cannot be openly expressed, is a quiet triumph.