Books on Chinese literature, history, and strategy.

Discuss literature (e.g. books, newspapers), educational studies (getting help or opinions on homework or an essay), and philosophy.

Unread postby Huang Bob » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:23 am


What exactly is that about? And as a huge Kongming fan, is it worth it?
I already have 'Mastering the Art of War'...

And what about the war manuals ZL gave to Jiang Wei?
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Unread postby wang yun » Wed Mar 01, 2006 5:46 am

Piaojijiangjun wrote:About the Book of Changes. Can you buy it in like a bookstore? and if you can what genre would you look under? That is if they sell good translated copies of the Book of Changes. I was thinking about going to Barnes and Noble to check it out but I wanted to check in with you guys first. While still on that topic is the Book of Changes only diagrams or do they come with explanations?

Strictly speaking it's a "divination book", as in it sets out some principles which can be applied to various situations in order to predict their outcome. It will definitely comes with diagrams-- the continuous line "_" & the broken line "--" are used to indicate "positive/ yang" & "negative/ yin" elements and combined to indicate some really weird "binary codes" (called "Gua").

Of course, there is a "philosophy" behind the principles of the Book of Changes, so it might be found under philosopical books. OTOH, this philosophy is deeply rooted in ancient Chinese world view (different combinations of yin and yang forces results in all the manifestations of the world), so it might be found under "occult" or "religious" books. It also reflects the state of logic and mathematics at the time of its writing, so books have also been written about its logical and mathematical aspects.

Confused yet? I am. :?

The "standard" edition of the Book of Changes usually comes complete with the Han Dynasty (& later) annotations and commentaries. But those annotations and commentaries will probably make no sense to you unless you have a modern author/editor explaining things. I've personally been looking for a "sensible" book ON the Book of Changes (i.e. a book which includes AND explains the text in the Book of Changes & its original commentaries) for ages.

Cos I'm not a very smart and studying what one code ("gua") means and how it is related to another code ("gua") was really tough.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:43 am

Sang wrote:
Lady Wu wrote:
IsbenFaith wrote:I was flipping through a World Literature anthology and I found "Letter in Reply to Jen An". It says the author is Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Is this the same author as Historical Records?

Yes. He's the one. (I'm surprised that letter made it in an English anthology!)
Wait! I thought its “Ren An”. Is it the same person? That name is in “Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty”. Or is it the different guy?

Ren An = Jen An. :|

Re: Book of Changes/I-Ching/Yijing---there are like five gazillion translations available. They problem with this text is that the original language is so ancient and so "compact" that it is extremely difficult to translate. Even Chinese scholars still debate on the exact meanings of words. Given this, you may be wise to choose a translation that explains how it did the translation---does the person sound like s/he has done research on the language (philosophical traditions aside)? Is there a good bibliography that, hopefully, includes Chinese sources? Does it sound like the translator/author understands the background of divination and the subsequent reinterpretations? (By the way, if you do use it for divination, please use the yarrow stick method rather than the coin method. The stick method is the traditional method, and while the coin-flipping method takes significantly less time, the probabilities end up being different.)

I think most people can agree that the Book of Changes is primary a text of divination, like wang yun said. The very original text that comes with it (Zhou Yi 周易?) simply explains, for each hexgram (stack of 6 broken or solid lines), what each line signifies, and what the whole hexgram means as a whole. Later commentators try to make sense of it by either giving a story to the hexgram, or by ascribing a "moral" (like a "life lesson") to it. For example, the first hexgram, Qian, comprises 6 solid lines:

Solid lines are yang, positive, etc, often associated with dragons. What the original text tells is basically this: The first line (the bottommost) represents a dragon hidden, unknown, in the fields. The second line it is spotted in the fields. With each progression of the lines the dragon ascends---until the topmost line, when it has gone too far, and regrets (亢龍有悔--man, that makes me want to go read the Eagle-Shooting Hero again :P). There is too much of a good thing. The whole hexgram taken together: no one dragon is in control over the others. Auspicious.

That last line is actually quite cryptic, and I've seen various different interpretations of it.

Then the later commentaries would try to make sense of this hexgram. Philosophical questions such as "is there a thing as too much good?" are discussed. An exegesis is given to each line, along with much quoting of other historical texts -_-;;. This is the easy part to get right in a translation.

There's a school of thought that the cycle of hexgrams is telling the story of the rise of the Zhou dynasty (i.e. there were political motives behind its penning), but there are problems with that theory, too, such as some hexgrams not fitting in, etc.
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Unread postby Sean » Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:03 pm

What are the Spring and Autumn Annals?
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Unread postby Yuan Seth » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:02 pm

Hmm... isn't it the Analects of Confucius?
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Unread postby wang yun » Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:57 pm

Sean wrote:What are the Spring and Autumn Annals?

I think you're talking about the history book compiled/written/edited by Confucious chronologically covering the events from 841 BCE to 481 BCE (?). Although "Spring-Autumn" used to be a generic name for historical texts, Confucious' "Spring-Autumn" was the only one to survived after the Qin Dynasty and the era covered by the book is also (roughly) called "Spring-Autumn".

Confucious's "Spring-Autumn" is very important because it means chronological verifiable history of China starts from 841 BCE-- but as it is a privately authored history book (Confucious was not a state historian) in the State of Lu (Confucious's home country), it does not (sufficiently) cover all the events & places in China which might seem important to us (but not to Confucious).

P.S. The Analects is another book containing the teachings & doings of Confucious, it is not actually authored by Confucious but by his students.
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Unread postby Prime Minister Kongming » Sun Apr 16, 2006 1:37 pm

right ow im readingMastering the Art of War it is a combination of two stratigists named Zhuge Liang (we all should know him) and Liu Ji who was a stratigist in the Tang dyansty i dont really know but he was born in 1311 and died in 1375 and was a famed one at that but Zhuge Liang had a section and Liu Ji had a section Zhuge Liangs section was "Good Generalship" everything about generals what they should do like share the turmoil with the soilders and gain there loyalty and you will win battles have a good formation that isnt sloppy and all that good stuff i like to learn. im not finished yet but Liu Ji section was "Lessons of War" and i have only gotten to the part where they finish talking about him historically but anyway i think this is a great book that people should pick up it also recommends other books like the book of changes and they take some special sections from famous books so itll also tell you more books that you might already know about or just learning about so i think people should read it
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Unread postby Changes » Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:20 pm

Currently reading Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Na'ain and Luo Guanzhong (and not by Guanzhong). EXTREMELY funny, Sagacious Lu the drunken tattoo monk has redefined my definition of anti hero, he is just one of a 108 heros with fantastic stories ranging from adulterous lovers, to robbers, to tiger killers, to Buddhist monks and corrupt Taoist priests.
I know I sound like the blurb but it simply is a fantastic book and well worth reading.
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Unread postby Mechromancer » Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:09 am

Does anyone know of any good novels based upon the spring and autumn period? Like a novel doing for that period what ROTK did for the three-kingdoms period. I'm looking for a novel ABOUT the period, as in warfare, tactics, cunning, etc., not a novel which simply happens to TAKE PLACE in the period, but is about something else really. Recomendations for novels like ROTK would also be appreciated. Thanks.
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Unread postby rsetiawan » Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:31 am

fengshen yanyi (chinese) online version :)
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