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Alexander Goldstein

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Member Since: Jun, 2010

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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Trafford Publishing ISBN-10:  1426914679 Type: 
Pages: 

700

Copyright:  Oct.8, 2009 ISBN-13:  9781426914676
Non-Fiction

"The Foundling" is a story that everyone can learn from. While the majority of us will never set out on a path like the hermits did, being able to read of their experiences and descriptions of the places that they have been and the hardships that they have endured let the reader learn about their life lessons as an arm-chair traveler. You can spend a short moment reading one poem of four lines and a lifetime trying to truly understand it. Their verses of simple construction are amazingly managed to capture something so unfathomable. No, not to capture but illustrate. And they are illustrated in the fullest by fluently running Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy to underline Zen essence that comes through silently but clear.

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“The Foundling” is the book for anyone seriously interested in Ch’an (Zen) studies and free-style poems composed by the famous Tang-period poets and clumsy hermits which consist of being at once philosophical and plain-spoken. The author's explanations in the form of a Chinese romance completed as a classic of the genre do a better job putting the emphasis on the points that add to our understanding of the Chinese masters and their place in the transcendent traditions animating their works by more than two hundred beautifully sketched Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. But if you just want to delight in Zen poetry that speaks for itself and this only does if you skip the painstaking analysis that litters almost every page of the book on as many levels as possible, you are mostly welcome to brush through Book II, the purely complete set of Han Shan and Shih Te’s poems (whatever it lacks in charm of Oriental rebelling poetry), this book is precisely for you. On the other hand, this edition is as much a must for the reader who seeks methodically, step-by-step, an understanding of unaccountable Zen studies.

 

This is a remarkable tale of religious extremes, and how each of the fellows left his religion respectfully, to achieve a wisdom of his very own. The dichotomy that is created between Taoism and Buddhism is a part of what makes this book so engaging. Their prolific sincerity that puffs in their verses pushes the narrative forward with intelligent humor and insight, and the steady stream keeps the reader afloat from beginning to end. The book is superbly annotated through penetrating into the marrow of its characters, a line of Zen monks and semi-hermits resided on the slopes of Tian-tai Mountain. The author not only got them right, entering the mountain cave and the monastery’s cells, but got out mostly all the hidden messages scrambled as it seems to be in simple everyday living images. The themes of the poems are likely well known to the interested reader; the fellows are like us, their times like ours; their works show what they thought about the world as they came to terms with the unexpected turns of their lives. Ultimately, rather than agreeing or disagreeing with them, you are more apt to take from “The Foundling” exactly what you bring to it. If you are unshakable in your faith, you will see the hermits’ incredible journey as that of the lost and wandering souls. The book would agree with that. However, if you are agnostic or atheist, then “The Foundling” will second that as well. The author leaves the book on somewhat of an ambiguous note with Shih Te’s leaving the monastery for good, uncertain of what he is to do next. This reinforces the notion that each individual’s spiritual future is in his own hands, and that as much as man might try, there are no strict rules in matters of faith.

 

"The Foundling" is a story that everyone can learn from. While the majority of us will never set out on a path like the hermits did, being able to read of their experiences and descriptions of the places that they have been and the hardships that they have endured let the reader learn about their life lessons as an arm-chair traveler. You can spend a short moment reading one poem of four lines and a lifetime trying to truly understand it. Their verses of simple construction are amazingly managed to capture something so unfathomable. No, not to capture but illustrate. And they are illustrated in the fullest by fluently running Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy to underline Zen essence that comes through silently but clear. In several brush strokes accompanied with a few poetic lines the universe is displayed before you, if only you pause to stare . . . and stare time and again. And both cronies, piling together in knots with the other two, Zen master Feng Kan and his tigress, symbol of wilderness and mother-nature, will get you there, into the dreamland stretching for a hundred miles at the foot of Mt. Hanshan. However, the journey will be different every time you reread their works, most of which sound like Buddhist mantras.

 

What places this book at the top of its class is first of all the angle of view and unique historical plot, as well as excellently performed illustrations that have graced the author’s other books with the same artistry. In short, this book is a work not only to be read and reread, but contemplate and contemplate on the regular basis. And if it’s happened you miss the book titled “The Foundling: A Novel of Wandering in the Dreamland of Ch’an Masters" by Alexander Goldstein, you actually miss a true brilliant in the crown of any Oriental art collection. The only way to put things right is to go ahead and pay a visit to www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com  for immediate ordering.

 


Excerpt

285
Higher and higher I climb on the top of the peak;
In all the four directions no confines I can see.
I sit alone; there is no one who could know me;
The orphaned moon reflects in the cold spring.
But in the spring, in truth, it is not the moon,
The moon itself is in the bluish black skies.
Though I have sung away one single song,
What is at the end of it is not Chan.

286
There is a common sort of people in this world
That can give the others a good laugh indeed.
Leaving home for monkhood, they harm their bodies,
Treating all deceptive and mundane as the way of Dao.
Though they take off their worldly clothes of dust,
Inside their new robes they nourish a good crop of flea.
It would be better for them to return to their true selves
To realise that the Mind is their only Master.

287
There is a certain Mr. Wang, the senior scholar, xiu-cai,
Who laughs at my poems for containing too many misses.
He says that I am unfamiliar with the wasp waist defect;
Besides, I am simply unable to elude the crane knee fault.
As to the even and slanting tones, I do not know, he alleges,
Where to put the stress on; as to very ordinary words,
I write them repeatedly, with both hands. To him I reply:
I laugh at the way you compose your poems, sir,
Like a blind man who sings the praise of the sun!

288
Han Shan utters these words to all men,
But none of them believes in them.
Honey is sweet, pleasing to men taste;
Yellow bark drug is bitter and hard to be taken in one gulp.
When things run the right way we feel happy ourselves,
But once they run the wrong way, we suffer hate and anger.
Just take a look at this wooden puppet
That is employed with might and main,
It's quite worn out from playing on this stage!

289
O Mt. Hanshan! There are only white clouds flocked around it:
Still and quiet, they are cut off from the worldly dirt and dust.
A seat of straw, that is all what I have for my home on this peak;
My sole lamp is the bright wheel of moon.
I set my stone bed by side of the emerald pool;
Tigers and deer are often my close companions.
I truly admire the joy of this secluded spot
To be a man who stays away from all phenomena for long.



Professional Reviews

Time to come, time to go and go far!!
Posted February 3, 2010, 11:08 AM EST: I'm simply an admirer of Zen poetry; the original spirit in the manner of Ezra Pound, if you forgive me my tactlessness. I have all editions of Han Shan's verses and will acquire anything to be published in the forthcoming future. And the future shows good promise so long as we have got the books like this one. This is what the literary research should be!! The book is superbly annotated through penetrating into the marrow of its characters, a line of Chan monks and semi-hermits resided on the slopes of Tian-tai Mountains. The author not only got them right, entering the mountain cave and the monastery's cells, but got out mostly all the hidden messages scrambled as it seems to be in simple everyday living images. The themes of the poems are likely well known to the interested reader; the poets are like us; their times were like ours; their works show what they thought about the world as they came to terms with the unexpected turns of their lives. I've for years enjoyed Prof. B. Watson's Cold Mountain edition, but with all due deference to the venerable leaders of translation from old Chinese, A.G. has given us a truly thorough and thought-provoking work that goes far beyond earlier translations both in style and content. What places this book at the top of its class is first of all the point of view, the interesting classical plot, as well as the evocative, excellent sketches and calligraphy performed by the author that have graced his other books with the same artistry. This edition is a work not only to be read and reread, but contemplate and contemplate on the regular basis. In actual fact, the book is a true brilliant in the crown of any Oriental art collection.


It's time to enjoy the complete set of the Tang-period Zen masters verses enhanced by more than 200 sketched Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy
Posted January 20, 2010, 8:49 PM EST: This is the book for a reader seriously interested in Chan (Zen) studies and free-style poems composed by the famous Tang-period Chan masters and hermits named Feng Gan, Han Shan, and Shi De, which consist of being at once philosophical and plain-spoken. I also believe that the author's explanations in the form of a Chinese novel completed as a classic of the genre do a better job putting the emphasis on the points that add to our understanding of the Chinese masters and their place in the transcendent traditions that animated their works by more than two hundred beautifully sketched Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. But if you just want to delight in Zen poetry that speaks for itself and this only does if you skip the painstaking analysis that litters almost every page of the novel on as many levels as possible, you are mostly welcome to brush through Book 2, the purely complete set of Han Shan and Shi De's verses, whatever it lacks in charm, is precisely for you.


the weight of light, February 13, 2010
a big book about Zen? well, not really.

the book is a trove of philosophies, meditation techniques, sectarian arguments, & everyday events swirling around Feng Kan, Han Shan, & Shih Te. These old fellows still have something to pass along to us coming later.

like all things worth reading, this book must be read slowly, & savored,& reflected upon.

a lovely, important book.


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Reader Reviews for "The Foundling: A Novel of Wandering in the Dreamland of Ch'an Masters"

Reviewed by Muhammad Al Mahdi 3/15/2012
Sounds very interesting.



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