Most helpful positive review
A fascinating biography of a great eastern sage
on 3 July 2013
Confucius by Meher McArthur, Quercus, 2011, 254 ff
The author of this book is a specialist in Asian culture and she was formerly Curator of East Asian Art at the Pacific Asia Museum at Pasadena, California. Confucius, or Kung-fu tzu lived in the 6th century BCE and his teachings founded one of the great systems of practices and mystical beliefs in China. He was therefore roughly a contemporary of Lao-tzu, whose school established the philosophy of Taoism and created one of the great works of Asian literature, the Tao Te Ching. Confucius' other great spiritual near contemporary was Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who was born in India.
Confucius was born into a humble background in what is now called the Shantung (or Shandong) province in Northeastern China, known today in the west for the quality of its silk. Although he travelled widely, Confucius is known for the system of moral philosophy that he taught to his disciples in his home state of Lu and which has been handed down to us today through the work known as `The Analects' or Lun Yu. The emphasis in his philosophy was on social responsibility - of parents to their children and equally of children to their parents if they became infirm - and on education in promoting these moral values.
No actual writings by Confucius have survived, but The Analects compiled by his students and successors reflect his philosophy; and McArthur deals with them in some detail throughout this book. There are chapters on Confucius' early life, his teachings, his followers, the years of wanderings, and the return to Lu.
Considering that details of the life of Confucius himself are scarce, this book gives an effective overview of the practices of the times in which he lived and of the people around him. At the end of the book there are several pages of Notes, a short Bibliography and a good Index.
Howard Jones is the author of The Tao of Holism