Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute

I picked up this book from the library recently, after just finding it as I browsed. Wikipedia has the background info on the book, but basically it's a story of a woman carried off to live among the nomads, where she lives for a number of years, marries, has two children...and then is ransomed by her people and must leave behind her husband and children. The basic outline is a true story, and the woman recorded her own experiences in poems. This book, though, is a retelling of sorts, rewritten by a poet some 700 years later.

The poems are pretty short and understated. Much is left to background knowledge and especially the beautiful paintings, one for each of the eighteen poems. I've always loved Chinese art, and these are wonderful examples of that. Not only is the composition of each individual painting exquisite, but they build on each other, creating a lot of the story through the variations from scene to scene.

I've blogged before about how I'm fascinated with the pairing of words and images, but that many graphic novels and similar attempts to fuse them just don't satisfy me. (Though I ought to state that I have found more that do, as I've continued exploring--though the ones that seem strongest are those graphic works that are word-less.) I'd love to see other artists/writers do more like this, things that satisfy as stunning and subtle art while also satisfying as written words.

That's really a side note, though, to this amazing work.