cover image Confucius


Yasushi Inoue. Learning Links, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7206-0836-6

In this small gem of a book, popular Japanese novelist and Sinologist Inoue (1907-1991) limns an imaginative portrait of Confucius, illuminating the sage's legendary qualities even as he humanizes him for the reader. In a series of lectures and discussions with acolytes, an aging disciple of Confucius, Yen-chiang, recounts his life with the sage. The philosopher and his followers emerge as vulnerable to stress and turmoil, men whose endeavors sometimes end in failure. Inoue's narrative offers an authoritative presentation of Confucius's teachings as well as his world, the politically unstable Central Plain of China during the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. Confucius's words are taken from the Analects (each quote is footnoted), and are given context by narrator Yen-chiang's recollections. The only disappointment is that this translation represents an abridgement of the original--certain lengthy philosophical discourses, Thomas explains, were deemed ``repetitive and tedious'' for Westerners. (Apr.)