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The Essential Huainanzi

Overview

Columbia University Press's widely anticipated, complete translation of the Huainanzi, published in 2010, opened exciting new pathways in the study of classical Chinese philosophy and literature. Compiled in the second century B.C.E., the Huainanzi is a critical work of early Chinese thought, clarifying a crucial period in the development of Chinese conceptions of the cosmos, human nature, and the social order. This abridgement contains essential selections from each of the Huainanzi's twenty-one chapters and ...

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The Essential Huainanzi

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Overview

Columbia University Press's widely anticipated, complete translation of the Huainanzi, published in 2010, opened exciting new pathways in the study of classical Chinese philosophy and literature. Compiled in the second century B.C.E., the Huainanzi is a critical work of early Chinese thought, clarifying a crucial period in the development of Chinese conceptions of the cosmos, human nature, and the social order. This abridgement contains essential selections from each of the Huainanzi's twenty-one chapters and adds a new introduction and chapter descriptions. Designed for classroom use and general readers, it allows even greater access to this central work of Chinese intellectual history.

Outlining "all that a modern monarch needs to know" in order to govern efficaciously, the Huainanzi emphasizes rigorous self-cultivation and mental discipline, attributing successful rule to a balance of broad knowledge, diligent application, and penetrating wisdom. The text represents a remarkable synthesis of Daoist classics, such as the Laozi and the Zhuangzi; works associated with the Confucian tradition, such as the Changes, the Odes, and the Documents; and a range of other foundational philosophical and literary texts, from the Mozi to the Hanfeizi. This abridgement preserves the Huainanzi's special rhetorical features, such as its parallel prose and verse, and its unique compositional techniques, making its form and content accessible to students, specialists of later China, and audiences new to Chinese history and thought. For decades, Western scholars overlooked the Huainanzi's sophisticated structure, creative content, and rich historical value, yet all that changed with the translation of the full text. The Essential Huainanzi continues to increase awareness of this brilliant work and change our understanding of early Chinese history.

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What People Are Saying

Victor Mair

The Essential Huainanzi is highly multifaceted, dealing with an astonishing variety of topics ranging from the mundane to the cosmic. Major and his collaborators have produced an English version that is both readable and reliable.

Victor Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania

Victor Mair

The Essential Huainanzi is highly multifaceted, dealing with an astonishing variety of topics ranging from the mundane to the cosmic. John S. Major and his collaborators have produced an English version that is both readable and reliable.

Victor Mair

The Essential Huainanzi is highly multifaceted, dealing with an astonishing variety of topics ranging from the mundane to the cosmic. John S. Major and his collaborators have produced an English version that is both readable and reliable.

Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

Meet the Author

John S. Major taught East Asian history at Dartmouth College from 1971 to 1984. Since then, as an independent scholar, writer, editor and lecturer, he has published many scholarly and general-interest books on Asia, including Heaven and Earth in Early Han Thought: Chapters Three, Four, and Five of the Huainanzi; Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China (with Constance A. Cook); and The Asian World, 600—1500 (with Roger V. DesForges).

Sarah A. Queen is professor of history at Connecticut College and the author of From Chronicle to Canon: The Hermeneutics of the Spring and Autumn, According to Tung Chung-shu and coeditor (with Michael Puett) of New Essays on the Huainanzi. She and John S. Major are completing a full translation of the Chunqiu fanlu, attributed to Dong Zhongshu.

Andrew Seth Meyer is associate professor of history at Brooklyn College. He is at work on a general history of the Warring States period.

Harold D. Roth is professor of religious studies and East Asian studies at Brown University and the author or editor of five books and more than forty scholarly articles, primarily concerned with the critical preparation of classical Chinese texts and early Daoist contemplative traditions. His best known work is Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism.

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Table of Contents

ContentsSketch of Early Chinese History, with Special Reference to the HuainanziIntroduction1. Originating in the Way2. Activating the Genuine3. Celestial Patterns4. Terrestrial Forms5. Seasonal Rules6. Surveying Obscurities7. Quintessential Spirit8. The Basic Warp9. The Ruler's Techniques10. Profound Precepts11. Integrating Customs12. Responses of the Way13. Boundless Discourses14. Sayings Explained15. An Overview of the Military16 and 17. A Mountain of Persuasions and A Forest of Persuasions18. Among Others19. Cultivating Effort20. The Exalted Lineage21. An Overview of the EssentialsGlossary of Personal NamesBrief BibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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