The Analects is a compendium of the sayings of
Confucius (551--479 b.c.e.), transcribed and passed down by his
disciples. How it came to be transformed by Zhu Xi (1130--1200)
into one of the most philosophically significant texts in the
Confucian tradition is the subject of this book.
Scholarly attention in China had long been devoted to the
Analects. By the time of Zhu Xi, a rich history of
commentary had grown up around it. But Zhu, claiming that the
Analects was one of the authoritative texts in the canon
and should be read before all others, gave it a still more
privileged status in the tradition. He spent decades preparing an
extended interlinear commentary on it. Sustained by a newer, more
elaborate language of metaphysics, Zhu's commentary on the
Analects marked a significant shift in the philosophical
orientation of Confucianism -- a shift that redefined the Confucian
tradition for the next eight centuries, not only in China, but in
Japan and Korea well.
Gardner's translations and analysis of Zhu Xi's commentary on
the Analects show one of China's great thinkers in an
interesting and complex act of philosophical negotiation. Through
an interlinear, line-by-line "dialogue" with Confucius, Zhu
effected a reconciliation of the teachings of the Master,
commentary by later exegetes, and contemporary philosophical
concerns of Song-dynasty scholars. By comparing Zhu's reading of
the Analects with the earlier standard reading by He Yan
(190--249), Gardner illuminates what is dramatically new in Zhu
Xi's interpretation of the Analects.
A pioneering study of Zhu Xi's reading of the Analects,
this book demonstrates how commentary is both informed by a text
and informs future readings, and highlights the importance of
interlinear commentary as a genre in Chinese philosophy.
Subjects: Philosophy, History
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