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A Floating Life

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  65 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
History and legend combine brilliantly in Simon Elegant's bawdy "autobiographical" account of China's famed rabble-rousing versemaker Li Po. On a lavishly outfitted river barge in ancient China, a studious young vintner's son takes down the life story of the extraordinary Tang Dynasty poet-in-exile, none other than the "Banished Immortal" himself, the great Li Po.Li Po rel ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 3rd 2000 by Ecco (first published January 1st 1997)
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Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I completely enjoyed A Floating Life. I believe that's because I read it as a novel, not expecting scrupulous historical accuracy. I think fictitious is still the meaning of Novel and as such it was a delight. I cared not one wit to it's non-adherence to history because I was not looking for that, nor poetry, but simply to be entertained with a story. And I was. Loved his characterization of this man and it made me long to know a person such as described. Li Po within this tale, was a first clas ...more
Silvio Curtis
Apr 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a fictional autobiography of Li Bai, the famous Tang-dynasty poet, but here spelled according to the Wade-Giles transliteration as Li Po. In fact, all the names are not just in Wade-Giles but in Wade-Giles with all the apostrophes left out, just to make sure it's confusing! I find this Li Bai easier to sympathize with than to admire. He's completely confident that he's the best poet there is, or maybe just the best at everything, and has lots of scorn for Confucian scholars and officials ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mature-reads
I was disappointed with this book. Being a great fan of Haiku,I was eager to read this historical novel about Li Po. Although points of the great poet's life are fascinating,the book is almost entirely first person monologue,and the young scribe is merely there to act as a literary foil for this prolonged discourse. I found Li Po's character unlikable, and that would have been all right since this book is electing to tell his life story, but there is no relief from it. I admit I skimmed through ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book left me with a feeling I'd almost describe as inspiration, yet cautionary at the same time. A very readable story, I'm intrigued to dig up some further translations of Li Po's writings beyond what is contained in this book. (Ezra Pound made some translations in the early 1900's.)

Li Po was a Chinese poet alive in the 700's, a free thinker contrasting the rigid society in which he lived. A genius as well as a notorious wine drinker, he lived life fully, perhaps too fully -- up to his som
Gene Stewart
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Superb novel bringing Li Po and his times to vivid life. One of my favorite poets and one of the great, if spendthrift, lives ever lived.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad story, but a little disjointed. Probably to be expected from a novel made from strung-together legends about an historical figure.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding fictional autobiography of Chinese poet Li Po. This book sparked (or maybe revived) my love of Chinese and Japanese literature. Too bad it's out of print!
Krista Morrow
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Took me more than three tries to start this book...about halfway through it got much better. Worth a read if you can hang on!
rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2007
Troy Pugsley
rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2012
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