2000 by Andre Levy All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in. writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.
48-1984. Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Levy, Andre, date [La litterature chinoise ancienne et classique. English] Chinese literature, ancient and classical / by Andre Levy ; translated by William H. Nienhauser, Jr. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-253-33656-2 (alk. paper) 1. Chinese literature—History and criticism. I. Nienhauser, William H. II. Title. PL2266. L48 2000 895. 1’09—dc21 99-34024 1 2 3 4 5 05 04 03 02 01 00.
For my own early translators of French, Daniel and Susan Contents ix Preface 1 Introduction Chapter 1: Antiquity 5 I. Origins II. “Let a hundred flowers bloom, Let a hundred schools of thought contend! ” 1. Mo zi and the Logicians 2. Legalism 3. The Fathers of Taoism III. The Confucian Classics 31 Chapter 2: Prose I. Narrative Art and Historical Records II. The Return of the “Ancient Style” III. The Golden Age of Trivial Literature IV. Literary Criticism Chapter 3: Poetry 61 I. The Two Sources of Ancient Poetry 1.
The Songs of Chu 2. Poetry of the Han Court II. The Golden Age of Chinese Poetry 1. From Aesthetic Emotion to Metaphysical Flights 2. The Age of Maturity 3. The Late Tang III. The Triumph of Genres in Song Chapter 4: Literature of Entertainment: The Novel and Theater 105 I. Narrative Literature Written in Classical Chinese II. The Theater 1. The Opera-theater of the North 2. The Opera-theater of the South III. The Novel 1. Oral Literature 2. Stories and Novellas 3. The “Long Novel” or Saga Index 151 Translator’s Preface.
I first became- interested in translating Andre Levy’s history of Chinese literature, La litterature chinoise ancienne et classique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1991), in 1996, after finding it in a bookshop in Paris. I read sections and was intrigued by Professor Levy’s approach, which was modeled on literary genres rather than political eras. I immediately thought about translating parts of the book for my graduate History of Chinese Literature class at the University of Wisconsin, a class in which the importance of dynastic change was also downplayed. Like many plans, this one was set aside.
Last spring, however, when the panel on our field’s desiderata headed by David Rolston at the 1998 Association for Asian Studies Meeting pronounced that one of the major needs was for a concise history of Chinese literature in about 125 pages (the exact length of Professor Levy’s original text), I revived my interest in this translation. I proposed the book to John Gallman, Director of Indiana University Press, and John approved it almost immediately-but, not before warning me that this kind of project can take much more time than the translator originally envisions.
Although I respect John’s experience and knowledge in publishing, I was sure I would prove the exception. After all, what kind of trouble could a little book of 125 pages cause? I soon found out. Professor Levy had originally written a much longer manuscript, which was to be published as a supplementary volume to Odile Kaltenmark-Ghequier’s La Litterature chinoise (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1948)’ in the Que sais-je? (What Do I Know? ) series.
This concept, however, was soon abandoned, and it ‘Several decades ago Anne-Marie Geoghegan translated this volume as Chinese Literature (New York: Walker, 1964). x Translator’s Preface was decided to publish the Levy “appendix” as a separate volume-in 125 pages. Professor Levy was then asked to cut his manuscript by one-third. As a result, he was sometimes forced to presume in his audience certain knowledge that some readers of this book-for example, undergraduate students or interested parties with little background in Chinese literature-may not have.
For this reason, working carefully with Professor Levy, I have added (or revived) a number of contextual sentences with these readers in mind. More information on many of the authors and works discussed in this history can be found in the entries in The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (volumes 1 and 2; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986 and 1998). Detailed references to these entries and other relevant studies can be found in the “Suggested Further Reading” sections at the end of each chapter (where the abbreviated reference Indiana Companion refers to these two volumes).
I also discovered that re-translating Professor Levy’s French translations of Chinese texts sometimes resulted in renditions that were too far from the original, even in this age of “distance education. ” So I have translated almost all of the more than 120 excerpts of original works directly from the original Chinese, using Professor Levy’s French versions as a guide wherever possible. All this was done with the blessing and cooperation of the author. Indeed, among the many people who helped with this translation, I would like to especially thank Professor Andre Levy for his unflinching interest in and support of this translation.
Professor Levy has read much of the English version, including all passages that I knew were problematic (there are no doubt others! ), and offered comments in a long series of letters over the past few months. Without his assistance the translation would never have been completed. Here in Madison, a trio of graduate students have helped me with questions Translator’s Preface xi about the Chinese texts: Mr. Cao Weiguo riftlal, Ms. Huang Shu—yuang MV and Mr. Shang Cheng I*.
They saved me E, from innumerable errors and did their work with interest and high spirits. Mr. Cao also helped by pointing out problems in my interpretation of the original French. Mr. Scott W. Galer of Ricks College read the entire manuscript and offered a number of invaluable comments. My wife, Judith, was unrelenting in her demands on behalf of the general reader. The most careful reader was, however, Jane Lyle of Indiana University Press, who painstakingly copy-edited the text. If there is a literary style to this translation, it is due to her efforts.
My thanks, too, to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation which supported me in Berlin through the summer of 1997 when I first read Professor Levy’s text, and especially to John Gallman, who stood behind this project from the beginning. Madison, Wisconsin, 16 February 1999 (Lunar New Year’s Day) Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical Introduction Could one still write, as Odile Kaltenmark-Ghequier did in 1948 in the What Do I Know series Number 296, which preceded this book, that “the study of Chinese literature, long neglected by the Occident, is still in its infancy? “‘ Yes and no.
There has been some spectacular progress and some foundering. At any rate, beginning at the start of the twentieth century, it was Westerners who were the first-followed by the Japanese, before the Chinese themselves-to produce histories of Chinese literature. Not that the Chinese tradition had not taken note of an evolution in literary genres, but the prestige of wen 5 signifying both “literature” and “civilization,” placed it above history-anthologies, compilations, and catalogues were preferred.
Moreover, the popular side of literature-fiction, drama, and oral verse-because of its lack of “seriousness” or its “vulgarity,” was not judged dignified enough to be considered wen. Our goal is not to add a new work to an already lengthy list of histories of Chinese literature, nor to supplant the excellent summary by Odile Kaltenmark-Ghequier which had the impossible task of presenting a history of Chinese literature in about a hundred pages. Our desire would be rather to complement the list by presenting the reader with a different approach, one more concrete, less dependent on the dynastic chronology.
Rather than a history, it is a picture-inevitably incompleteof Chinese literature of the past that this little book offers. Chinese “high” literature is based on a “hard core” of classical training consisting of the memorization of texts, nearly a half-million characters for every candidate who reaches the highest competitive examinations. We might see the classical art of writing as the arranging, in an appropriate and astute fashion, of lines recalled by memory, something ,’Odile Kaltenmark-Ghequier, “Introduction,” La litterature chinoise (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1948), p. 5;
“Que sais—je,” no. 296. 2 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical that came almost automatically to traditional Chinese intellectuals. The goal of these writers was not solely literary. They hoped through their writings to earn a reputation that would help them find support for their efforts to pass the imperial civil-service examinations and thereby eventually win a position at court.
Although there were earlier tests leading to political advancement, the system that existed nearly until the end of the imperial period in 1911 was known as the jinshi A± or “presented scholar” examination (because successful candidates were “presented” to the emperor), and was developed during the late seventh and early eighth centuries A. D. It required the writing of poetry and essays on themes set by the examiners. Successful candidates were then given minor positions in the bureaucracy.
Thus the memorization of a huge corpus of earlier literature and the ability to compose on the spot became the major qualifications for political office through most of the period from the eighth until the early twentieth centuries. These examinations, and literature in general, were composed in a classical, standard language comparable to Latin in the West. This “classical” language persisted by opposing writing to speech through a sort of partial bilingualism. The strict proscription of vulgarisms, of elements of the spoken language, from the examinations has helped to maintain the purity of classical Chinese.
The spoken language, also labeled “vulgar,” has produced some literary monuments of its own, which were recognized as such and qualified as “classics” only a few decades ago. The unity of the two languages, classical and vernacular, which share the same fundamental structure, is undermined by grammars that are appreciably different, and by the fact that these languages hold to diametrically opposed stylistic ideals: lapidary concision on the one hand, and eloquent vigor on the other.
We conclude by pointing out that educated Chinese add to their surnames, which are always given first, a great variety of personal names, which can be disconcerting at times. The standard given name (ming Introduction 3 is often avoided out of decorum; thus Tao Qian Miff is often referred to En We will retain only the by his zi (stylename) as Tao Yuanming best known of these names, avoiding hao at (literary name or nickname), bie hao ZIJM (special or particular literary name), and shi ming (residential name) whenever possible:
When other names are used, the standard ming will be given in parentheses. The goal here is to enable the reader to form an idea of traditional Chinese literature, not to establish a history of it, which might result in a lengthy catalogue of works largely unknown today. We are compelled to sacrifice quantity to present a limited number of literary “stars,” and to reduce the listing of their works to allow the citation of a number of previously unpublished translations, inevitably abridged but sufficient, we hope, to evoke the content of the original.
The chronological approach will be handled somewhat roughly because of the need to follow the development of the great literary genres: after the presentation of antiquity, the period in which the common culture of the educated elite was established, comes an examination of the prose genres of “high” classical literature, then the description of the art most esteemed by the literati, poetry. The final section treats the literature of diversion, the most discredited but nonetheless highly prized, which brings together the novel and the theater.
Chapter 1. Antiquity Ancient literature, recorded by the scribes of a rapidly evolving warlike and aristocratic society, has been carefully preserved since earliest times and has become the basis of Chinese lettered culture. It is with this in mind that one must approach the evolution of literature and its role over the course of the two-thousand-year-old imperial government, which collapsed in 1911, and attempt to understand the importance (albeit increasingly limited) that ancient literature retains today.
The term “antiquity” applied to China posed no problems until certain Marxist historians went so far as to suggest that it ended only in 1919. The indigenous tradition had placed the break around 211 B. C. , when political unification brought about the establishment of a centralized but “prefectural” government under the Legalists, as well as the famous burning of books opposed to the Legalist state ideology. Yet to suggest that antiquity ended so early is to minimize the contribution of Buddhism and the transformation of thought that took place between the third and seventh centuries.
The hypothesis that modernity began early, in the eleventh or perhaps twelfth century in China, was developed by Naito Konan NAM 1 (1866-1934). This idea has no want of critics or of supporters. It is opposed to the accepted idea in the West, conveyed by Marxism, that China, a “living fossil,” has neither entered modern times nor participated in “the global civilization” that started with the Opium War of 1840.
Nor is there unanimity concerning the periodization proposed in historical linguistics, a periodization which distinguishes Archaic Chinese of High Antiquity (from the origins of language to the third century) from Ancient Chinese of Mid-Antiquity (sixth to twelfth centuries), then Middle Chinese of the Middle Ages (thirteenth-sixteenth centuries) from Modern Chinese (seventeenth-nineteenth centuries), and Recent Chinese (18401919) from Contemporary Chinese (1920 to the present). 6 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical.
In the area of literature, the beginning of the end of antiquity could perhaps be placed in the second century A. D. Archaeology has elevated our knowledge of more ancient writings toward the beginning of the second millennium B. C. , but this archaic period, discovered recently, cannot be considered part of literary patrimony in the strictest sense. Accounts of this archaic period are traditionally divided into six eras,2 but to honor them would be to fall into the servitude of a purely chronological approach.
I. Origins Since the last year of the last century, when Wang Yirong . 1. 6M (1845-1900) compiled the first collection of inscriptions written on bones and shells, the increasing number of archaeological discoveries has allowed the establishment of a corpus of nearly 50,000 inscriptions extending over the period from the fourteenth to the tenth centuries before our era. Dong Zuobin (1895-1963) proposed a periodization for them and distinguished within them the styles of different schools of scribes.
Scholars have managed to decipher a third of the total of some 6,000 distinct signs, which are clearly related to the system of writing used by the Chinese today-these were certainly not primitive forms of characters. The oracular inscriptions are necessarily short-the longest known text, of a hundred or so characters, covers the scapula of an ox and extends even over the supporting bones; the shell of a southern species of the great tortoise, also used to record divination, did not offer a more extensive surface.
Whether a literature existed at this ancient time seems rather doubtful, but this scriptural evidence causes one to consider whether eras are the early Chou dynasty (eleventh century-722 B. C. ), the Spring and Autumn era (722-481 B. C. ), the Warring States (481-256 B. C. ), the Ch’in dynasty (256-206 B. C. ), the Western or Early Han dynasty (206 B. C. -A. D. 6), and the Eastern or Latter Han dynasty (25-A. D. 220). 2These Chapter 1. Antiquity 7 the Shu jing Efg (Classic of Documents), supposedly “revised” by Confucius but often criticized as a spurious text, was based in part on authentic texts.
The presence of an early sign representing a bundle of slips of wood or bamboo confirms the existence of a primitive form of book in a very ancient era-texts were written on these slips, which were then bound together to form a “fascicle. ” The purpose of these ancient archives, which record the motivation for the diviner’s speech, his identity, and sometimes the result, has been ignored. Of another nature are the inscriptions on bronze that appeared in about the eleventh century B. C. and went out of fashion in the second century B.C.
They attracted the attention of amateur scholars from the eleventh century until modern times. Many collections of inscriptions on “stone and bronze” have been published in the intervening eras. The longest texts extend to as much as five-hundred signs, the forms of which often seem to be more archaic than those of the inscriptions on bones and shells. The most ancient inscriptions indicate nothing more than the person to whom the bronze was consecrated or a commemoration of the name of the sponsor.
Toward the tenth century B. C. the texts evolved from several dozen to as many as a hundred signs and took on a commemorative character. The inspiration for these simple, solemn texts is not always easily discernible because of the obscurities of the archaisms in the language. An echo of certain pieces transmitted by the Confucian school can be seen in some texts, but their opacity has disheartened many generations of literati. II. “Let a hundred flowers bloom, Let a hundred schools of thought contend!
” This statement by Mao Zedong, made to launch a liberalization movement that was cut short in 1957, was inspired by an exceptional period in Chinese cultural history (from the fifth to the third centuries 8 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical B. C. ) in which there was a proliferation of schools-the “hundred schools. ” The various masters of these schools offered philosophical, often political, discussion. The growth of these schools paralleled the rise of rival states from the time of Confucius (the Latinized version of the Chinese original, Kong Fuzi TL-T- or Master Kong, ca. 551-479 B.C. ) to the end of the Warring States period (221 B. C. ).
The “hundred schools” came to an end with the unification of China late in the third century B. C. under the Legalist rule of the Qin dynasty (221-206 B. C. ). This era of freedom of thought and intellectual exchange never completely ceased to offer a model, albeit an unattainable model, in the search for an alternative to the oppressive ideology imposed by the centralized state. Much of what has reached us from this lost world was saved in the wake of the reconstruction of Confucian writings (a subject to which we will turn shortly).
The texts of the masters of the hundred schools, on the periphery of orthodox literati culture, are of uneven quality, regardless of the philosophy they offer. Even the best, however, have not come close to dethroning the “Chinese Socrates,” Confucius, the first of the great thinkers, in both chronology and importance. 1. Mo Zi and the Logicians. The work known as Mo Zi (Master Mo) is a collection of the writings of a sect founded by Mo Di g, an obscure personage whom scholars have wanted to make a contemporary of Confucius.
It has been hypothesized that the name Mo, “ink,” referred to the tattooing of a convict in antiquity, and the given name, Di, indicates the pheasant feathers that decorated the hats of the common people. Although we can only speculate about whether Mo Zi was a convict or a commoner, he argued for a kind of bellicose pacifism toward aggressors, doing his best to promote, through a utilitarian process of reasoning, the necessity of believing in the gods and of practicing universal love without discrimination. Condemning the extravagant expense of funerals as well as the uselessness of art and music, Mo Zi Chapter 1. Antiquity 9 wrote in a style of discouraging weight.
The work that has come down to us under his name (which appears to be about two-thirds of the original text) represents a direction which Chinese civilization explored without ever prizing. Mo Zi’s mode of argument has influenced many generations of logicians and sophists, who are known to us only in fragments, the main contribution of which has been to demonstrate in their curious way of argumentation peculiar features of the Chinese language. Hui Shi Ea is known only by the thirty-some paradoxes which the incomparable Zhuang Zi cites, without attempting to solve, as in:
There is nothing beyond the Great Infinity.. . and the Small Infinity is not inside. The antinomies of reason have nourished Taoist thought, if not the other way around, as Zhuang Zi attests after the death of his friend Hui Shi: Zhuang Zi was accompanying a funeral procession. When he passed by the grave of Master Hui he turned around to say to those who were following him: “A fellow from Ying had spattered the tip of his nose with a bit of plaster, like the wing of a fly. He had it removed by [his crony] the carpenter Shi, who took his ax and twirled it around. He cut it off, then heard a wind: the plaster was entirely removed without scratching his nose.
The man from Ying had remained standing, impassive. When he learned of this, Yuan, the sovereign of the country of Song, summoned the carpenter Shih and said to him, “Try then to do it again for Us. ” The carpenter responded, “Your servant is capable of doing it; however, the material that he made use of died long ago. ” After the death of the Master, I too no longer can find the material: I no longer have anyone to talk to. (Zhuang Zi 24) Sons of the logicians and the sophists, the rhetoricians shared with the Taoists a taste for apologues.
They opposed the Taoist solution of a 10 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical detached “non-action,” involved as they were in diplomatic combat. Held in contempt by the Confucians for their “Machiavellianism,” the Zhanguo ce Vg (Intrigues of the Warring States) remains the most representative work of the genre. It was reconstructed several centuries later by Liu Xiang gj 1-(4] (77-6 B. C. ), but the authenticity of these reassembled materials seems to have been confirmed by the discovery of parallel texts in a tomb at Mawang Dui gUttg in 1973.
A great variety animates these accounts, both speeches and chronicles; they are rich in dialogue, which cannot be represented by this single, although characteristic, anecdote—it is inserted without commentary into the “intrigues” (or “slips”) of the state of Chu: The King of Wei offered the King of Chu a beautiful girl who gave him great satisfaction. Knowing how much the new woman pleased him, his wife, the queen, showed her the most intense affection. She chose clothes and baubles which would please her and gave them to her; it was the same for her with rooms in the palace and bed clothes.
In short, she gratified her with more attention than the king himself accorded her. He congratulated her for it: a woman serves her husband through her carnal appeal, and jealousy is her nature. Now, understanding how I love the new woman, my wife shows her more love than I—it is thus that the filial son serves his parents, that the loyal servant fulfills his duties toward his prince. As she knew that the king did not consider her jealous, the queen suggested to her rival: “The king appreciates your beauty. However, he is not that fond of your nose. You would do better to hide it when he receives you.
” Therefore, the new one did so when she saw His Majesty. The king asked his wife why his favorite hid her nose in his presence. She responded, “I know. ” “Even if it is unpleasant, tell me! ” insisted the king. “She does not like your odor. ” “The brazen hussy! ” cried the sovereign. “Her nose is to be cut off, and let no one question my order! ” Chapter 1. Antiquity 11 The Yan Zi chunqiu *T-*V( (Springs and Autumns of Master Yen) is another reconstruction by Liu Xiang, a collection of anecdotes about Yan Ying RV, a man of small stature but great ability who was prime minister to Duke Jing of Qi (547-490 B.C. )-the state that occupies what is now Shandong.
Without cynicism, but full of shrewdness, these anecdotes do not lack appeal; some have often been selected as anthology pieces, of which this one is representative: When Master Yan was sent as an ambassador to Chu, the people of the country constructed a little gate next to the great one and invited him to enter. Yan Zi refused, declaring that it was suitable for an envoy to a country of dogs, but that it was to Chu that he had come on assignment. The chamberlain had him enter by the great gate.
The King of Chu received him and said to him: “Was there then no one in Qi, for them to have sent you? ” “How can you say there is no one in Qi, when there would be darkness in our capital of Linzi if the people of the three hundred quarters spread out their sleeves, and it would rain if they shook off their perspiration-so dense is the population. ” “But then why have you been sent? ” “The practice in Qi is to dispatch a worthy envoy to a worthy sovereign; I am the most unworthy. . . .” 2. Legalism.
The diplomatic manipulations and other little anecdotes we have seen in the Yan Zi chunqiu were of little interest to the Legalists, who took their name from the idea that the hegemonic power of the state is founded on a system of implacable laws supposing the abolition of hereditary privileges-indeed a tabula rasa that rejects morals and traditions. In fact, historians associate them with all thought that privileges efficacy. From this point of view, the most ancient “Legalist” would be the artisan of Qi’s hegemony in the seventh century B. C. , Guan Zi (Master Guan).
The work that was handed down under his name is a composite text and in reality contains no material prior to the third century B. C. Whether or not he should be considered a Legalist, Guan Zi 12 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical embodies the idea that the power of the state lies in its prosperity, and this in turn depends on the circulation of goods. In sum, Guan Zi stands for a proto-mercantilism diametrically opposed to the primitive physiocraticism of Gongsun Yang (altV (also known as Shang Yang ), minister of Qin in the fourth century.
Shang jun shu 1 (The 2 Book of Lord Shang), which is attributed to Gongsun Yang, gives the Legalist ideas a particularly brutal form: It is the nature of people to measure that which is advantageous to them, to seize the best, and to draw to themselves that which is profitable. The enlightened lord must take care if he wants to establish order in his country and to be able to turn the population to his advantage, for the population has at its disposal a great number of means to avoid the strictness that it fears.
Within the country he must cause the people to consecrate themselves to farming; without he must cause them to be singly devoted to warfare. This is why the order of a sage sovereign consists of multiplying interdictions in order to prevent infractions and relying on force to put an end to fraud. (Shang jun shu, “Suan di”) Shang Yang’s prose is laden with archaisms, which hardly lighten the weight of his doctrine. It is in the work of Han Fei Zi 4-T- (ca. 280-233) that Legalism found its most accomplished formulation.
The book Han Fei Zi contains a commentary on the Classic of the Way and of Power of Lao Zi in which the ideal of Taoist non-action is realized by the automatism of laws. The “artifice” of the latter may go back to the Confucianism of Xun Zi (Master Xun, also known as Xun Qing ,Ajja, ca. 300-230 B. C. ), a school rejected by orthodox Confucianism. Xun Zi, who happens to have been the teacher of Han Fei Zi, developed the brilliant theory that human nature inclines individuals to satisfy their egoistic appetites: it was therefore bad for advanced societies of the time. The “rites”-culture-are necessary for socialization.
Xun Zi’s Chapter 1. Antiquity 13 argumentation was unprecedentedly elaborate, examining every facet of a question while avoiding repetition. In a scintillating style peppered with apologues, Han Fei Zi argues that the art of governing requires techniques other than the simple manipulation of rewards and punishments. The prince is the cornerstone of a system that is supposed to ensure him of a protective impenetrableness. The state must devote itself to eliminating the useless, noxious five “parasites” or “vermin:” the scholars, rhetoricians, knights-errant, deserters, and merchants (perhaps even artisans).
3. The Fathers of Taoism. A philosophy of evasion, this school was opposed to social and political engagement. From the outset Taoism was either a means to flee society and politics or a form of consolation for those who encountered reversals in politics and society. The poetic power of its writings, which denounced limits and aphorisms of reason, explains the fascination that it continues to hold for intellectuals educated through the rationalism of the Confucians. These works, like most of the others from antiquity that were attributed to a master, in fact seem to be rather disparate texts of a school.
The Dao de jing ittitg (Classic of the Way and of Power) remains the most often translated Chinese work—and the first translated, if one counts the lost translation into Sanskrit by the monk Xuanzang WM in the seventh century A. D. This series of aphorisms is attributed to Lao Zi (Master. Lao or “The Old Master”), whom tradition considers a contemporary of Confucius. He is said to have left this “testament” as he departed the Chinese world via the Xian’gu Pass for the West.
In their polemics against the Buddhists, the Taoists of the following millennium used this story as the basis on which to affirm that the Buddha was none other than their Chinese Lao Zi, who had been converting the barbarians of the West since his departure from China. Modern scholarship estimates that the Lao Zi could not date earlier than the third century B. C. The 1973 discoveries at Mawang Dui in Hunan confirmed what scholars had suspected for centuries: the primitive Lao Zi is reversed in respect to 14 Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical ours: a De dao jing “1,M1#§ (Classic of Power and the Way).
Its style, which is greatly admired for its obscure concision, seems to owe much to the repair work of the commentator Wang Bi . T3 (226-249). Thus it is tenable that the primitive Lao Zi was a work of military strategy. Whatever it was, the text that is preferred today runs a little over 5,000 characters and is divided into 81 sections (9 x 9). The Taoist attitude toward life is expressed here in admirably striking formulae, which lend themselves to many esoteric interpretations: He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know (#56).
Govern a great state as you would fry small fish! (#60). Practice non-action, attend to the useless, taste the flavorless. (#63) The Zhuang Zi ate, written by Zhuang Zhou 4. -B1 or Zhuang Zi (Master Zhuang), was apparently abridged at about the same time as the Lao Zi, but at the hands of the commentator Guo Xiang # -IM (d. 312), who cut it from fifty-two to thirty-three sections. Scholars cannot agree whether the seven initial sections, called “the inner chapters,” are from the same hand of Zhuang Zhou as the sixteen following, called “the outer chapters,” and the final ten “miscellaneous chapters.
” It is in the final ten that we find a characteristic arrangement of reconstructions from the first century, works of one school attributed to one master. In fact, it is the first part which gives the most lively impression of an encounter with an animated personality whose mind is strangely vigorous and disillusioned: Our life is limited, but knowledge is without limit. To follow the limitless with that which is limited will exhaust one. To go unrelentingly after knowledge is exhausting and c.
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