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Analects of Confucius (Translations from the Asian Classics) [Hardcover]

Burton Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

7 Sep 2007 Translations from the Asian Classics
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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (7 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231141645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231141642
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,839,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


[Watson's] translation... is not only perhaps the most faithful to the writer's intentions, but also one of the few readable ones. -- Donald Richie Japan Times 9/16/07 Watson's gem... captures the wit, freedom, and spontaneous intimacy of this tireless treasure... Highly recommended. CHOICE June 2008 A new, concise translation. Journal of Chinese Studies Week 49, 2009 A lucid and accessible translation. Toronto Globe & Mail 11/14/09

About the Author

Burton Watson has taught at Columbia, Stanford, and Kyoto Universities and is one of the world's best-known translators of Chinese and Japanese works. His translations include The Tales of the Heike; The Lotus Sutra; the writings of Zhuangzi, Mozi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi; The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry; and Records of the Grand Historian.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Lunyu, or The Analects of Confucius, has probably exercised a greater influence on the history and culture of the Chinese people than any other work in the Chinese language. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You like to philosophy? like to think? 9 Aug 2011
This is, for what i have read online, the best translation of the origial "Analects of Confusius".
I readed it, and i liked it very much. I bought it because my interest on Samurai warrior mind and conduct is really enormous.
And it might explain, for those how have some knowledge of the matter. way this kind of warriors acted like they did.
i think as well, this is a contemporary master peace, from one of the greatest minds of the east. you could learn a lot for your own good, with this book. By the way for the collector ones, it is a perfect hard layer design, underneath the one you actualy see from here.

Best regards
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A translation for the 21st century! 5 Sep 2007
By JLK - Published on
This little book has had a considerable influence over the centuries in China and its cultural sphere. This translation is very agreeable and can be read in one day. However, it is a book that requires more than just one reading.

To give some examples, here are some sentences, almost chosen randomly:

"The Master said, The gentleman is not a utensil."

"The Master said, Persons who lack trustworthiness-I don't know how they get by!"

"A person who really hated the lack of humaneness would conduct himself humanely, never allowing those who lack humaneness to affect his behavior."

"The Master's Way consists of loyalty and reciprocity alone."

And my favorite one: "Standing by a stream, the Master said, It flows on like this-does it not?- never ceasing, day or night."

Burton Watson is a great translator of fine letters and we are all in his debt.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good, but not precise enough 7 Nov 2008
By Anonymous - Published on
Another reviewer quoted the famous passage, "The Master said, The gentleman is not a utensil" as a highlight of this translation. Well, it only highlights that the translation is not as accurate as it should be. In the original text, the negative before qi, "utensil," is bu, which negates verbs, not nouns. That means qi must be understood as a verb, "to act like/behave like/serve as a utensil." A more precise translation would be: "The gentleman does not serve as a utensil." It's a subtle but crucial difference, and there's really no excuse for a translator of Watson's experience to make a mistake like this. He is more at home in imperial literature, not the classics.
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