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Thank you all for the tips on abridgments, and apologies for the late reply! It might work out that I will do the complete Three Kingdoms in the Fall and Spring, while taking Tanner’s advice on the Journey to the West as lending itself more to abridgment for the following summer.
Just finished doing a reading group for Confucius Analects over 10 weeks with a group of people of mixed backgrounds, but interestingly majority were tech. It went so well, we plan on continuing on with Mengzi later this summer, when my co-leader is available.
Louis: on the note about ‘social reading’ I did a one off reading group on Plato’s Apology last night and the leader asked us what we were currently reading and a third of the group held up “The Book of Jacob” by Olga Tokarczuk! Perhaps these kind of books are making a come back?
Currently reading “Kokoro” by Soseki. Learned about it from the Leaf by Leaf YouTube channel, which is a great channel if you are into certain kinds of books (mostly big complicated ones: Gravity’s Rainbow, Infinite Jest, Don Quixote, etc.)
Thank you for the reply Louis!
Your reading partner and your pace is admirable, I have to say and I agree with your points. I’m currently c0-leading a reading group (via Catherine Project) on The Analects/Lunyu of Confucius/Kongzi and we are just doing 2 books a week, which ends up being (with commentary) 20-30 pages. Most of the group are tech people and professors, so the discussions have been lively and in depth. We’ve been fortunate to keep our starting group consistent, no drop outs, and I figure it was due to the reading pace and subject matter. Of course that would change with reading one of the major Chinese prose texts.
I’m in another group, just as a participant, on reading Moby Dick and I think we do up to a dozen chapters a session, which ends up being 50-60 pages, I think. We were going at a faster clip, but it was requested that we do a lower page count and extend the sessions. If both groups are analogous to each other, I think 50-60 pages a week is about the maximum, hence the idea it would take almost a year to complete a text.
There are lots of works I’m interested in reading as part of a reading group.
I wonder if you agree, it’s a very enriching experience to be able to share your thoughts with other people as you are reading, almost equivalent to a re-reading of the text, solo. Plus the discipline it demands to get the readings done!
Thanks again for the reply.
Wondered what people’s thoughts were on using abridged texts as a first time introduction to particular texts, specifically thinking of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Journey to the West, both of which has full academic translations, but also have abridgments by the very same translator, Roberts and Yu, respectively.
As a solo reader, inclined to read the entire text.
But giving thought to engaging with them via a reading group, so multi volume texts become an issue. I’m currently co-leading one on the Analects, and the pace of reading for the participants there makes me think it would take a year plus to read through Journey to the West with a group at 30-50 pages per week. Not sure if that is feasible.March 18, 2022 at 3:47 am in reply to: What Lessons Should the PLA/ROC Military/INDOPACOM Learn From Ukraine? #3258
What is each group’’s faulty assumption about their own strategy? How can each take advantage of the other’s faulty assumptions? How can each course correct in the time remaining?
Seems Russia made some assumptions that reality quickly proved to be in error. From that moment on, things just started to compound rapidly.
Main focus would be on what is the PLA assuming, that just isn’t the case? Over estimating rockets? Under valuing Taiwanese resolve to resist? Confidence in weathering the Strength/Duration of US/Allies reaction across all spectrums?
Just amateur observer, but question I have.
Thanks for making the request Jake and answering the request Tanner!
We used the Burton Watson translation of Sima Tian. It’s in three volumes but is abridged. There is a complete translation that is over ten volumes, from Indiana University Press. But it seems impossible to put together a complete set, akin to Nietzsche collected works from Stanford University Press. I have the first volume and it’s heavily footnoted, if that is something you seek. I enjoyed the Watson, but haven’t compared the same passages side by side. I will say that my understanding of how Watson did his translations gives me pause. He would do a first draft into English from the Chinese, then work exclusively with that English draft to make his translation. This is second/third hand anecdote, to be honest, though. Also, heard that his Zhuangzi translation, while lovely to read, can be misleading on Zhuangzi’s thoughts about ‘freedom,’ according to an interview with Edward Slingerland I’ve seen. Here because BW used a Classical Chinese Text from a Japanese Buddhist.
I was hesitant at first about Library of Chinese Humanities, too. But researching it and discovering the editor is Paul Kroll, who wrote the Chinese Classical/Medieval dictionary that is commonly used. He also translates some of the texts himself. Also Rouzer, who wrote a popular Classical Chinese textbook, “A New Practical Primer on Literary Chinese’ which Tanner Greer recommended.
I’m not big into Indian thought, I am discovering. At least the Rig Veda and Upanishads. But the Mahabharata is glorious. It’s interesting that my two favorite scenes in the Mahabharata are basically ‘domestic’ scenes. Rather than battles between Demi-gods and man-eaters or large battle set pieces. The translation we are using is J.A.B. van Buitenen, but he was only able to complete 3 volumes and the Bhagavad-Gita before passing away.
Definitely would like to get into Arabic literature. I started to collect translations from Library of Arabic Literature by New York University Press. It, like Chinese Humanities and Loebs, has facing original language and translation text layout.
Thank you for the link to the Ramayana translation coming out in January, definitely will order it!
Curious if anyone has heard of the “Library of Chinese Humanities”? They have a fair number of complete translations of Classical Chinese Poets, including Du Fu. It appears online it’s open access and free to download via ePub and pdf. Anyone heard of them before? I figure it’s akin to Loeb, but wasn’t sure. I prefer physical books, which they sell, but free online seems cool.
Thank you for the book suggestion.
I think it makes sense, just even in terms of a manageable problem or area to exploit.
Does the US Foreign Policy/Intelligence Community have the ability to promote a split, I don’t know.
Next to the last week of reading Sima Qian in the Eastern Classics Program at St John’s College and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading him. Favorite portions has been the chapters on the prime ministers and advisors to Gaozu , including the account of the Han defeating Xiang Yu, and Sima Qian’s letter to Ren An.
Picked up “Zhou History Uneartched” by Yuri Pines and “Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue” translated by Jianjun He. Also have Mote’s “Imperial China” but likely will be 2022 before I get to any of them.
Liked Mengzi a bit more than Kongzi; Zhuangzi a significant amount more than Laozi. I liked Mozi. I think I’ll go back to Xunzi, because the reading was a bit too quick and I have a a copy of his complete text available.
Also picked up some commentary/supplementary texts that seem interesting:
Disputers of the Tao by Graham
Effortless Action by Slingerland
Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China by Jiang
Detour and Access by Jullien
The second half of the semester shifts to a focus on Indian works.
@Tanner: Thank you, added to my cart!
Just started reading Sima Qian and really liking him. Chapter 61 in Qin Dynasty: “Biography of Po Yi and Shu Ch’i” in particularly. It made me think of what to make of bad things happening to good people dilemma/question you mentioned in a ChinaTalk podcast, which is what turned me attention to the Eastern Classics in a serious way, I think.
@Louis: I think he saw that as one expression of it, though probably a lesser form of it. Also/in addition to, a form of learning/teaching via 17.20. It also jumps out at you, I think, in 2.3:
“The Master said, “If you try to guide the common people with coercive regulations (Zheng) and keep them in line with punishments, the common people will become evasive and will have no sense of shame. If, however, you guide them with Virtue, and keep them in line by means of ritual, the people will have a sense of shame and will rectify themselves.”
Also, thinking on it and the discussion that surrounded it (all Westerners): the seminar leader wanted to strongly caution the people in the seminar from unconsciously using a ‘Western paradigm’ (Judeo-Christian, Liberalism, Cartesian, etc.) during the readings. And I think some people reflexively thought of shame (/guilt) in a Western (negative) way, I think.
Thanks for asking, looking back on 2.3 in particular clarified my thinking/understanding. I hope it aids you, too. ☺️
Finished reading the Analects by Confucius last night in seminar. I used the Edward Slingerland translation from Hackett Publishing. I found it, as a first time reader of Confucius, to be a helpful translation as he includes commentaries (traditional and his own) embedded into the text itself.
The seminar leader presented an idea that a ‘sense of shame’ (in a positive way) plays a significant role in how Confucius thought is practiced. I’m unsure, but will keep the theme in mind during my reread.
Best bits for me were the numerous “love of learning” sections, the idea of ‘practice’ (and for myself contrasting it with ‘habit’ of Aristotle), and various exemplars he holds up (another thing I’m always interested in).
Less so, weirdly, since it plays a huge part of his thought, ideas on leadership/scholar-official, etc. Of course, the good person/good leader overlap in Confucius, but the later doesn’t hold my interest.
I thought there was an opportunity for an interesting discussion on Confucius in comparison to Machiavelli, but sadly everyone seems to have taken a face value reading of The Prince, instead of the irony reading that I think is the correct one, both in the writing and the biographies of both figures.
Thanks so much!
Discovered that the 3 volume set of Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun translated by Franz Rosenthal became available in paperback late last year. Plan to order this month. Publisher is listed as ‘independently published’ on Amazon.
Any advice on which English edition/translation of the Chinese novel:
Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Nai’an
In Tanner’s post about a Non Western Canon he links the Shapiro translation on Amazon. But it is listed as a paperback box set, when I purchased the paperback it was one book instead of four, figure it’s an error in listing, at least for the paperbacks vs. the hardback.
Also found a 2 volume set via the Folio Society that looks very pretty, but different translator (Jackson) and covers 70 chapters of text.
There is a 3 volume hardback box set that has Shapiro as the translator. One I’m leaning towards.
Also a one volume edition titled The Water Margin translated by Jackson.
Thanks so much for any advice. 🙂
I thought it was very interesting conversation.
What do you think the Taiwanese are thinking/concluding when they watch POTUS say:
“How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghans – Afghanistan’s civil war, when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives – American lives – is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?”
Which, I think, echoes the sentiment you expressed at the beginning of the podcast and in your previous writing.