The Analects of Confucius

Confucius, Author, Simon Leys, Translator W. W. Norton & Company $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-04019-7
Because they offer diverse and sometimes diametrically opposite meanings, the words of Chinese classics are as likely to reflect the prejudices of the translator as the are to exhibit scholarly rigor. This volume is no exception. The publisher's biography of Leys calls him ""an astringent observer,"" and such observations are readily apparent in Leys's sometimes bad-tempered and occasionally ill-judged glosses on a thinker whom he clearly believes would have agreed with him that late 20th-century culture is undergoing the same chaotic moral crisis as 6th-century B.C. China. While the translations are often elegant, and Leys's endnotes offer a few telling examinations of the vagaries and subtleties of translating the Analects, Leys is too often diverted from the Analects by barely relevant citations from European writers and his own digs at other translators of Confucius. Furthermore, neither the introduction nor the endnotes adequately place Confucius in historical context, making the book strangely vague about Confucius's impact on his time and people. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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