Learn more Download now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 28 November 2010
This is a very welcomed edition to the ever growing genre of Yijing study. Furthermore, it is written and translated from the ancient Chinese, by one of the leading academic lights of his generation, within the field of Chinese Studies. As mainland China has re-emerged from a time of an intense self-imposed isolation, and has begun to set the standard for the study of its own language, history and culture, this has had a profound effect upon the way the West views the East. Shaughnessy, (along with others such as Mark Edward lewis for intance), has to produce a quality and standard of work that is free of cultural bias and at the sametime, relevant to the Western student, whilst being viewed as academically 'correct' from a Chinese perspective. Gone are the days of Christian missionaries acting as a 'filter' between East and West, often distorting what they conveyed. Today, the emphasis in the field of serious academia is one of 'exactness' of interpretation, and 'correctness' of 'translation'. This current work meets these two criteria admirably.

What of the text? In 1973, as China was involved in the highly destructive 'Cultural Revolution', a set of tombs was unearthed in the south central Chinese city of Changsha (Hunan province). It contained three bodies belong to a noble family - the first Marquis of Dai, his wife and their son. The tomb complex dates to 168BC, and is therefore, of the Early Han Dynasty (206BC-9AD) time peried. Within the tombs there was a wealth of artefacts including lacquered wine-bowls, cosmetic boxes, silk name banners, silk burial shrouds draped over the coffins, and a collection of maps, military treatise and spiritually significant texts. A silk document contains postures of 'daoyin', or 'health' exercises that stretch and loosen the body that look very similar to the postures of modern-day martial art of Taijiquan. Amongst the spiritual texts were found the Daodejing and the I Ching.

The Mawangdui I ching (Yijing) contains 64 hexagrams, mirroring the received text. However, it differs in the order that the hexagrams are presented - in the received text 'Jian' (Creative), is followed by 'Kun' (Receptive), in the Mawangdui edition, Jian is followed by 'Fu', or 'Wife', as Shaughnessy translates the term. It should be noted that 34 of the 64 hexagrams carry different names than those found in the received version, with many written with ideograms that sound the same (or similar) when pronounced, but have completely different meanings. In the text associated with the line commentaries, around half contain notable differences. The complete received version has Ten Wings, or ten commentaries, the Mawangdui version omits the 3rd, 4th and 9th commentaries, whilst the 8th commentary is lacking the final paragraph (regarding the attributes of the trigrams), that is found in the received version. For those interested in its philosophy, the Mawangdui also differs in another, crucial manner. The received version contains within the body of the Ten Wings (i.e. the 5th commentary) the idea of the concept of 'Taiji' (Grand Ridge-pole), which gives rise to yin and yang. In the Mawangdui version however, 'Taiji' is replaced with the concept of 'Daheng', or 'Great Endurance'. This idea may have been taken from hexagram 32 of the received version - which is named 'Heng' - that is 'Constancy/Endurance'. In this respect, both the received Yijing AND the Mawangdui text are in full agreement - hexagram 32 is also called 'Heng' and written with exactly the same Chinese ideogram. This is an excellent translation from a very fine academic.
11 Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 March 2004
A lot has happened in Chinese language scholarship in recent decades. (Would that I had more than a poor layman's appreciation of such endeavors!) Obvious are the changes in the transliterations into English. Gone is "Tao te Ching" for the now correct "Dao De Ching." (How I loved those t's pronounced like d's and their exotic appearance in print, now reduced to quaint nostalgia.)
Also changed is the I Ching, now properly known as Yijing, the "Classic of Changes" (formerly the "Book of Changes"). Note however that the publishers of this very fine volume have insisted on "I Ching" being in the title lest the uninitiated not realize that this book is about that enormously popular work of divination now at least 3,000 years old. As such the Yijing is one of the most venerable of all human writings and is of inestimable value for that reason alone.
The occasion for this book and for Professor Shaughnessy's translation and commentary is the discovery in 1973 of the Mawangdui manuscript which shed new light on the text of the Yijing. That manuscript dates from the second century B.C. However the original of the Yijing goes back to the days before works were written down. Ni, Hua Ching in his book The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth (1983) notes that "an ancient by the name of Fu Shi developed a line system to express the principle of appropriateness." Some time later around 1181 B.C. "the feudal lord, King Wen of the Shang Dynasty...provided a written explanation of these lines and hexagrams." (p. iii in the work cited)
Note well the use of the word "appropriateness." Although the Yijing is known primarily in the West as a book of divination, it is really a book about how one should behave and what one should expect in the face of the inevitable changes that dominate our lives. It is therefore in one sense a book of advice, advice to the high and the low, but especially to heads of state. It might be contrasted and compared to the Dao De Ching and to various volumes of advice from Sun Tzu's The Art of Warfare to Machiavelli's The Prince.
This particular book is not a popular work on the classic. Instead it is a meticulous scholar's work that presents the new textual discovery to the reader with both the Chinese characters and Shaughnessy's translation appearing on facing pages, noting omissions and puzzlements in the manuscript, etc. His commentary addresses the origins and development of the Yijing including the earlier commentaries by Confucius and others. This is a book for scholars and the most devoted students of the Yijing as well as Chinese history and culture.
I should also note that this is not a book about how to use the Yijing for fortune telling. There are many books that work well for that purpose including James Legge's I Ching: Book of Changes from 1964, which I have used. I might also mention Edward Albertson's I Ching for the Millions first published in 1969. One of the most respected books widely available is The I Ching or Book of Changes by C.F. Baynes and R. Wilhelm which was also first published in the sixties. Today no doubt there is an I Ching for "Dummies" or an "Idiots" guide that will work well for divination.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)