Compiled by disciples of Confucius in the centuries following his death in 479 B.C.E., The Analects of Confucius is a collection of aphorisms and historical anecdotes embodying the basic values of the Confucian tradition: learning, morality, ritual decorum, and filial piety. Reflecting the model eras of Chinese antiquity, the Analects offers valuable insights into successful governance and the ideal organization of society. Filled with humor and sarcasm, it reads like a casual conversation between teacher and student, emphasizing the role of the individual in the attainment of knowledge and the value of using historical events and people to illuminate moral and political concepts. Confucius's teachings focus on cultural and peaceful pursuits and the characteristics of benevolent and culturally distinguished government. He also discusses ancestor worship and other rites performed for the spirits of the dead. The single most influential philosophical work in all of Chinese history, The Analects of Confucius has shaped the thought and customs of China and neighboring countries for centuries. Burton Watson's concise translation uses the pinyin romanization system and keeps explanatory notes to a minimum, yet his intimate knowledge of the Confucian tradition and precise attention to linguistic detail capture the original text's elegance, cogency, and wit.
Selected as one of the sixty-five masterpieces for the UNESCO Collection of Representative WorksThe fu, or rhyme-prose, is a major poetic form in Chinese literature, most popular between the 2nd century b.c. and 6th century a.d. Unlike what is usually considered Chinese poetry, it is a hybrid of prose and rhymed verse, more expansive than the condensed lyrics, verging on what might be called Whitmanesque. The thirteen long poems included here are descriptions of and meditations on such subjects as mountains and abandoned cities, the sea and the wind, owls and goddesses, partings and the idle life.Burton Watson is universally considered the foremost English-language translator of classical Chinese and Japanese literature for the past five decades. Gary Snyder calls him a "great and graceful scholar," and Robert Aitken has written that "Burton Watson is a superb translator because he knows what literature is." Here his seemingly effortless translations are accompanied by a comprehensive introduction to the development and characteristics of the fu form, as well as excerpts from contemporary commentary on the genre. A path-breaking study of pre-modern Chinese literature and an essential volume for poetry readers, the book has been out of print for decades. For this edition, Lucas Klein has provided a preface that considers both the fu form and Watson's extraordinary work as a whole.
"Cchuang Tzu (369?-286? B.C.) was a leading thinker representing the Taoist strain in Chinese thought . . .This translation . . .includes the seven "inner chapters, which form the heart of the book, three of the "outer chapters," and one of the "miscellaneous chapters." There is a good introduction by the translator, adjunct professor of East Asian languages and cultures at columbia University.
This unique collection presents the verse, much of it translated for the first time, of fourteen eminent Chinese Buddhist poet monks. Featuring the original Chinese as well as english translations and historical introductions by Burton Watson, J.P. Seaton, Paul Hansen, James Sanford, and the editors, this book provides an appreciation and understanding of this elegant and traditional expression of spirituality. "So take a walk with...these cranky, melancholy, lonely, mischievous poet-ancestors. Their songs are stout as a pilgrim's stave or a pair of good shoes, and were meant to be taken on the great journey." --Andrew Schelling, from his Introduction
Only by inhabiting Dao (the Way of Nature) and dwelling in its unity can humankind achieve true happiness and freedom, in both life and death. This is Daoist philosophy's central tenet, espoused by the person -- or group of people -- known as Zhuangzi (369?-286? B.C.E.) in a text by the same name. To be free, individuals must discard rigid distinctions between good and bad, right and wrong, and follow a course of action not motivated by gain or striving. When one ceases to judge events as good or bad, man-made suffering disappears and natural suffering is embraced as part of life.Zhuangzi elucidates this mystical philosophy through humor, parable, and anecdote, deploying non sequitur and even nonsense to illuminate a truth beyond the boundaries of ordinary logic. Boldly imaginative and inventively worded, the Zhuangzi floats free of its historical period and society, addressing the spiritual nourishment of all people across time. One of the most justly celebrated texts of the Chinese tradition, the Zhuangzi is read by thousands of English-language scholars each year, yet only in the Wade-Giles romanization. Burton Watson's pinyin romanization brings the text in line with how Chinese scholars, and an increasing number of other scholars, read it.
Burton Watson and Haruo Shirane, renowned translators and scholars, introduce English-speaking readers to the vivid tradition of early and medieval Japanese anecdotal ( setsuwa) literature. These orally narrated and written tales drew on both local folk tradition and continental sources. Taken from seven major anthologies of anecdotal literature compiled between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, these dramatic and often amusing stories open a major window onto the foundations of Japanese culture. Out of thousands of setsuwa, Shirane has selected thirty-eight of the most powerful and influential, each of which is briefly introduced. Recounting the exploits of warriors, farmers, priests, and aristocrats, and concerning topics as varied as poetry, violence, power, and sex, these tales reveal the creative origins of a range of literary and dramatic genres, from court tales and travel accounts to no drama and Kabuki. Watson's impeccable translations relay the wit, mystery, and Buddhist sensibility of these protean works, while Shirane's sophisticated analysis illuminates the meaning and context of their compact stories. Capped by an extensive bibliography, this collection fully immerses the reader in the thrilling world of secular and religious tales.
In April 1926, the Japanese poet Taneda Santoka (1882--1940) set off on the first of many walking trips, journeys in which he tramped thousands of miles through the Japanese countryside. These journeys were part of his religious training as a Buddhist monk as well as literary inspiration for his memorable and often painfully moving poems. The works he wrote during this time comprise a record of his quest for spiritual enlightenment. Although Santoka was master of conventional-style haiku, which he wrote in his youth, the vast majority of his works, and those for which he is most admired, are in free-verse form. He also left a number of diaries in which he frequently recorded the circumstances that had led to the composition of a particular poem or group of poems. In For All My Walking,master translator Burton Watson makes Santoka's life story and literary journeys available to English-speaking readers and students of haiku and Zen Buddhism. He allows us to meet Santoka directly, not by withholding his own opinions but by leaving room for us to form our own. Watson's translations bring across not only the poetry but also the emotional force at the core of the poems. This volume includes 245 of Santoka's poems and of excerpts from his prose diary, along with a chronology of his life and a compelling introduction that provides historical and biographical context to Taneda Santoka's work.
Trenchant, sophisticated, and cynical, Han Feizi has been read in every age and is still of interest today when people are more than ever concerned with the nature and use of power. Han Feizi (280?-233 B.C.), a prince of Han, was a representative of the Fa-chia, or Legalist, school of philosophy and produced the final and most readable exposition of its theories. His handbook for the ruler deals with the problems of strengthening and preserving the state, the way of the ruler, the use of power, and punishment and favor. Ironically, the ruler most influenced by Han Feizi, the king of Qin, eventually sent Han Feizi to prison, where he later committed suicide.
This collection of setsuwa, or "explanatory tale" literature, compiled by a monk in eighth- or ninth-century Japan, records the spread of Buddhist ideas in Japan and ways in which Buddhism's principles were adapted to the conditions of Japanese society. Beginning its survey in the time before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, the text captures the effects of the nation's initial contact with Buddhism -- introduced by the king of the Korean state of Paekche -- and the subsequent adoption and dissemination of these new teachings among towns and cities. The Nihon ryoiki provides a crucial window into the ways in which Japanese Buddhists began to make sense of the teachings and texts of their religion, how they incorporated religious methods and materials from Korea and mainland China, and how they sought to articulate a popularized form of Buddhist practice and belief that would not be limited to monastic centers. The setsuwa genre would become one of the major textual projects of classical and medieval Buddhism, with nearly two dozen collections appearing over the next five centuries. The Nihon ryoiki serves as a vital reference for these later works, with the tales it contains finding their way into folkloric traditions and becoming a major source for Japanese authors well into the modern period.
Du Fu (712-777) has been called China's greatest poet, and some call him the greatest nonepic, nondramatic poet whose writings survive in any language. Some 1,400 of Du Fu's poems survive today, his fame resting on about one hundred that have been widely admired over the centuries. Preeminent translator Burton Watson has selected 127 poems, including those for which Du Fu is best remembered, and lesser-known works.
Originally written in the mid-thirteenth century, "The Tales of the Heike" chronicles the epic Genpei war, a civil conflict that marked the end of the power of the Heike clan and changed the course of Japanese history. Featuring a vivid cast of characters, the book depicts the emerging world of the medieval samurai and recounts in absorbing detail the chaos of the battlefield, the intrigue of the imperial court, and the gradual loss of courtly tradition. This new, abridged translation presents the work's most gripping episodes and includes woodblock illustrations, a glossary of characters, and an extended bibliography.
This translation captures the terse and enigmatic beauty of the ancient original and resists the tendency toward interpretive paraphrase found in many other editions. Along with the complete translation, Lombardo and Addiss provide one or more key lines from the original Chinese for each of the eighty-one sections, together with a transliteration of the Chinese characters and a glossary commenting on the pronunciation and meaning of each Chinese character displayed. This greatly enhances the reader's appreciation of how the Chinese text works and feels and the different ways it can be translated into English.
Xunzi asserted that the original nature of man is evil, differing on this point from Mencius, his famous predecessor in the Confucian school. In the most complete, well-ordered philosophical system of his day, Xunzi advocated the counteraction of man's evil through self-improvement, the pursuit of learning, the avoidance of obsession, and observance of ritual in life. Readers familiar with Xunzi's work will find that Burton Watson's lucid translation breathes new life into this classic. Those new to Xunzi will find his ideas on government, language, and order and safety in society surprisingly close to concerns of our own age.
Only by understanding Dao (the Way of Nature) and dwelling in its unity can humankind achieve true happiness and freedom, in both life and death. This is the central tenet of the philosophy that was to become Daoism, espoused by the person -- or group of people -- known as Zhuanzi (369?-286? B.C.), in the text of the same name. In order to be free, individuals must discard rigid conventions that distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, and follow a course of action not founded on motives of gain or striving. When one ceases to judge events as good or bad, man-made suffering disappears and natural suffering is embraced as part of life. Elucidating a mystical philosophy dedicated to the spiritual nourishment of the individual, Zhuangzi makes many points through humor. He also uses parable and anecdote, non sequitur and even nonsense, to jolt the reader into awareness of truth outside the pale of ordinary logic. With inspired, unconventional language and visionary ideas, the Zhuangzi seems to float free of the historical period and society in which it was written, addressing all people across all ages. Columbia presents this renowned translation by Burton Watson of a seminal text in Chinese philosophy in pinyin romanization for the first time.
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