Arthur Waley

Arthur Waley

Arthur David Waley CH (August 19, 1889 – June 27, 1966) was a noted English Orientalist and Sinologist.


Waley was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, as Arthur David Schloss, son of the economist David Frederick Schloss. Of Jewish heritage, he changed his surname to his paternal grandmother's maiden name, Waley, in 1914. Educated at Rugby School, he entered King's College, Cambridge in 1907, where he studied Classics, and was awarded a bachelor's degree in 1910.

Waley was appointed Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum in 1913. During this time he taught himself Chinese and Japanese, partly to help catalogue the paintings in the Museum's collection. He quit in 1929 to devote himself fully to his literary and cultural interests, though he continued to lecture in the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. In 1918, he met Beryl de Zoete, a dance critic and writer; they lived together until her death in 1962. In 1966, Arthur Waley married Alison Robinson, whom he had first met in 1929. They lived in Highgate in London, and she became a familiar figure in later years, living beyond the age of 100.

Waley lived in Bloomsbury and had a number of friends among the Bloomsbury Group, many of whom he had met as an undergraduate. He was one of the earliest to recognize Ronald Firbank as an accomplished author, and together with Osbert Sitwell provided an introduction to Firbank's first collected edition.

Noted American poet Ezra Pound was instrumental in getting Waley's first translations into print in "The Little Review". His view of Waley's early work was mixed, however. As he wrote to Margaret Anderson, the Review's editor, in a letter of July 2, 1917: "Have at last got hold of Waley's translations from Po chu I. Some of the poems are magnificent. Nearly all the translations marred by his bungling English and defective rhythm... I shall try to buy the best ones, and to get him to remove some of the botched places. (He is stubborn as a jackass, or a "scholar".)" Yet Waley, in his Introduction in his translation of "The Way and its Power", explains that he was careful to put meaning above style in translations where meaning would be reasonably considered of more importance to the modern Western reader.

Waley was elected an honorary fellow of King's College, Cambridge in 1945, received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) honor in 1952, the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1953, and the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 1956. He died in London and is buried in the renowned Highgate Cemetery.


His many translations include "A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems" (1918), "Japanese Poetry: The Uta" (1919), "The No Plays of Japan" (1921), "The Tale of Genji" (published in 6 volumes from 1921-33), "The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon" (1928), "Monkey" (1942, an abridged version of "Journey to the West"), "The Poetry and Career of Li Po" (1959) and "The Secret History of the Mongols and Other Pieces" (1964). Waley received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his translation of "Monkey", and his translations of the classics, the "Analects of Confucius" and "The Way and its Power" (Tao Te Ching), are still regarded highly by his peers. Dutch poet J. Slauerhoff used poems from "A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems" and "More Translations from the Chinese" to write his 1929 adaptation of Chinese poetry, "Yoeng Poe Tsjoeng".

These translations are widely regarded as poems in their own right, and have been included in many anthologies such as the Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892-1935, Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse and Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse (1918-1960) under Waley's name.

Despite translating many Chinese and Japanese classical texts into English, including much poetry and several philosophical works, Waley never travelled to the Far East. In his preface to "The Secret History of the Mongols", he writes that he was not a master of many languages, but claims to have known Chinese and Japanese fairly well, a good deal of Ainu and Mongolian, and some Hebrew and Syriac.

elected works

* "A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems", 1918
* "More Translations from the Chinese" (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1919).
* "Japanese Poetry: The Uta", 1919
* "The Nō Plays of Japan", 1921
* "The Tale of Genji", by Lady Murasaki, 1921-1933
* "The Temple and Other Poems", 1923
* "Introduction to the Study of Chinese Painting", 1923
* "The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon", 1928
* "The Way and its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and its Place in Chinese Thought", 1934
* "The Book of Songs" ("Shih Ching"), 1937
* "The Analects of Confucius", 1938
* "Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China", 1939
* "Translations from the Chinese", a compilation, 1941
* "Monkey", 1942
* "Chinese Poems", 1946
* "The Life and Times of Po Chü-I", 1949
* "The Real Tripitaka and Other Pieces", 1952
* "The Nine Songs: A Study of Shamanism in Ancient China", 1955
* "Yuan Mei: Eighteenth Century Chinese Poet", 1956
* "The Opium War through Chinese Eyes", 1958
* "The Poetry and Career of Li Po", 1959
* "Ballads and Stories from Tun-Huang", 1960
* "The Secret History of the Mongols", 1963


* [ "Arthur Waley, 76, Orientalist, Dead; Translator of Chinese and Japanese Literature,"] "New York Times." June 28, 1966.
* Gruchy, John Walter de. (2003). "Orienting Arthur Waley: Japonism, Orientalism, and the Creation of Japanese Literature in English." Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 10-ISBN 0-8248-2567-5.
* Waley, Alison. (1982). "A Half of Two Lives." London: .
* Morris, Ivan I. (1970). "Madly Singing in the Mountains: An Appreciation and Anthology of Arthur Waley." London: Allen & Unwin.

External links

* Warring States Project, University of Massachusetts Biography []
* [ Waley's translation of "The Way and its Power"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Arthur Waley — Arthur David Waley, eigentlich Arthur David Schloss, (* 19. August 1889 in Tunbridge Wells, England; † 27. Juni 1966 in Highgate, London) war ein britischer Sinologe. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Übersetzungen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Arthur Waley — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Arthur David Waley nació el 19 de agosto de 1889 y falleció el 27 de junio del año 1966. Fue un orientalista y sinologista inglés. Contenido 1 Biografía 2 Obra …   Wikipedia Español

  • Arthur Waley — Le Dao De Jing, édition Wang Bi, 1770 Arthur Waley (19 août 1889 – 27 juin 1966) est un sinologue et orientaliste britannique, traducteur de chinois mais aussi de japonais, histo …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Waley — Arthur David Waley, eigentl. Arthur David Schloss, (* 19. August 1889 in Tunbridge Wells, England; † 27. Juni 1966 in London) war ein britischer Sinologe. Arthur Waley war der Sohn des Wirtschaftswissenschaftlers David Frederick Schloss. Mit 25… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • WALEY — WALEY, family of English Jews, active in various branches of public and intellectual life. The Waley family traces its descent from Benjamin Levi (d. 1784), an engraver from Wiesbaden who settled in Portsmouth in 1740. His son Jacob (d. 1817)… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Waley, Arthur David — (1889 1966)    Born at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he was educated at Rugby School and graduated in classics from King s College, Cambridge, in 1910, but losing sight in one eye curtailed his studies. Rest and travel on the Continent saved the other… …   British and Irish poets

  • WALEY, ARTHUR — (1889–1966), English poet and translator of Oriental literature. Originally named Arthur David Schloss, Waley was born in Tunbridge Wells and was educated at Rugby and at Cambridge University. The family changed its name to Waley in 1918. From… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Waley — [wā′lē] Arthur (born Arthur David Schloss) 1889 1966; Eng. translator of Chin. & Jpn. literature …   English World dictionary

  • Arthur Whitten Brown — Arthur Whitten Brown, 1919 Sir Arthur Whitten Brown (* 23. Juli 1886 in Glasgow; † 4. Oktober 1948 in Swansea) war ein britischer Flugpionier. Er war als Navigator neben dem Piloten John Alcock Teilnehmer des ersten erfolgreichen Nonstopflugs… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Waley, Arthur David — ▪ British translator original name  Arthur David Schloss   born Aug. 19, 1889, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Eng. died June 27, 1966, London       English sinologist whose outstanding translations of Chinese and Japanese literary classics into English… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.