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Chuang-Tzu [Hardcover]

Zhuangzi , Youlan Feng , Yu-Lan Fung
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1990
Professor Fung Yu-lan is a distinguished contemporary Chinese philosopher. Chuang-tzu is the textbook he used to teach a course on Chuang Tzu in the Beijing Chinese Language School during the 1920s. The book originally contained the translation of the first seven chapters of the Chuang-tzu and an article entitled "Some Characteristics of the Philosophy of Kuo Hsiang "appeared as an appendix. Chapter Ten, "The Third Phase of Taoism: Chuang Tzu," of Fung Yu-lan's A Short History of Chinese Philosophy is included as another appendix in the present edition.

The Chuang-tzu, one of China's most important Taoist works, forms a connecting link between the preceding Book of Lao Tzu and the following Book of Huai Nan Tzu. It brims with ideas by means of images, shedding light on philosophy through the aid of fables. As the seven chapters are consistent in both style and thought, they were obviously written by Chuang Tzu himself, while some of the other chapters of the original Chuang-tzu were written by scholars of later periods or of other schools. Therefore, Chuang Tzu's philosophical thought is well presented in those seven chapters, while the ideas of the other chapters were incorporated in the translator's notes. Therefore, the present volume represents ideas discussed in the thirty-three chapters in the original Chuang- tzu.

Professor Fung has, in his translator's notes, made a comparative study between Western philosophical thought and that of Chuang Tzu with a view to helping readers grasp the core of Chuang Tzu's writings.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Burton Watson... possesses all the qualities which distinguish a master translator.

(Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Burton Watson is one of the world's best-known translators from the Chinese and Japanese. His translations include The Lotus Sutra, The Vimalakirti Sutra, Ryokan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home, and The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, all published by Columbia.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There are better translations out there. June 16 1999
By A Customer
It astounds me that this translation of Chuang-tzu is still in print while A.C. Graham's is not. As one of the first translations of the work, Watson did a very respectable job. More recent scholarship has sharpened our understanding of the work and, of course, the quality of the translation.
If you want to understand the ideas in Chuang-tzu, read A.C. Graham. There are many passages that are at best obscure in Watson's translation, but in Graham's come to life with meaning.
Since this is a work that many of us can only read in translation, it is unfortunate that such a dated translation is the one most commonly read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming a Chuang Tzu enthusiast. May 25 2001
By tepi
Anyone who may be coming to Chuang Tzu for the first time is in for a treat. Although Chuang Tzu is sometimes described as the most brilliant of all Chinese philosophers, what we find in him isn't what we normally understand by 'Philosophy' and isn't technical at all.
His appeal is not so much to the intellect as to the imagination, and he chose as a vehicle for his philosophical insights, not tedious and lengthy abstract treatises, but brief and witty anecdotes and dialogues and tales. His humor, sophistication, literary genius, and philosophical insights found their perfect expression in his brilliant fragments, and once having read them you never forget them.
Not much is known about Chuang Tzu, other than that he seems to have lived around the time of King Hui of Liang (370-319 B.C.). The received text of his book, which is sometimes referred to as 'the Chuang Tzu' (CT), is made up of thirty-three Chapters. Most scholars seem to feel that the CT is a composite text, and that only the first seven - the Inner Chapters - plus a few bits from the others are Chuang Tzu's own work, the remainder being by others.
Among the better known of his translators, all of them excellent, are Arthur Waley, Burton Watson, and A. C. Graham, though only the latter two translated the complete text. An abridged version of Watson's complete translation has now been made available for those who want to confine themselves mainly to the Inner Chapters.
Watson has always struck me as an eminently civilized scholar and as a brilliant translator. Unlike certain others, he wears his scholarship lightly, and doesn't overburden the text with extraneous matter.
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Most people have heard of Lao Tzu, the alleged author of the Tao Te Ching. However, cognoscenti know that the writings attributed to the Chinese "Taoist" Chuang Tzu are at least as interesting, challenging, and profound.
Chuang Tzu shows his mastery of almost every form of writing in this work: parable, humor, philosophial dialogue, even what seem like brief philosophical essays. Sometimes the net effect is quite dizzying: what are we to make of the story of how Chuang Tzu was dreaming that he was a butterfly, and then awoke, but was unsure whether he was Chuang Tzu who had been dreaming that he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who was now dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu?! And how is a butcher who carves an ox carcass with seemingly supernatural grace and ease a model for how we should lead our lives? Understand this book or not, you'll have fun reading it!
The eponymous book, the _Chuang Tzu_ is actually a collection of writings by different authors from different periods. However, many scholars believe that the so-called "Inner Chapters" are by one hand. Watson's translation includes all of these, as well as selections from some of the other portions of the text. (Watson has also published separately a complete translation, although it is rather expensive.) Watson is a very gifted translator, and his love for this text shows. This is one of the standard translations, and for good reason. (One tidbit: Watson seems to translate into English, not from the original Chinese, but from Japanese translations of the Chinese. Surprisingly, the result is very good.)
There is much disagreement over how to interpret Chuang Tzu, so you may want to compare how different translators do different things with the same text. A.C.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best available english translations June 2 1998
By A Customer
The language is direct, giving some hint of the concision and grace of classical Chinese, but also retains some of the subtle humor of this profoundly subversive philosopher. Burton Watson tried to create a translation that serves both scholarly and a poetic purposes, and to a large extent his elegant work succeeeds better than any other English translation to date.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great translation Nov. 27 1998
By A Customer
I have have read several differant translations of this classic and by far Watson's translation is the best. His vivid translation is the closest to the origanal Chinese text. A great book!
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