Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Analects (2010)

Author: Confucius (and friends) | Editor: John Baldock | Page Count: 128

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher, teacher and politician that lived from 551-479 BC (by the western calendar). He taught morality, piety, justice and sincerity by example, both for the individual and for society. People listened, and governments (eventually) conceded he'd something interesting to say about their methods and their madness. He endured great hardships in his life by officials opposed to his teachings; fear of truth and change is not just a modern concern.

What has become known as 'The Analects' is a collection of teachings and transcribed words attributed to Confucius and his contemporaries, collected together by many disciples over a number of years. People have pointed out that in that respect it's similar in construction to the Christian Bible. However, unlike the religion that sprang up around the Jesus figure, Confucius is revered by his followers, not deified.

A library-full of criticisms and critiques of the text already exist online so I’ll limit my observations to the book itself, to the presentation and the care taken to present the work.

It's a small hardcover, almost pocket sized, with a quality paper stock that's crisp and white. It's an edited text, based upon the accepted translation carried out by W. E. Soothill first published in 1910. It distils the work into an accessible size and includes an essential introduction to principles that would become the basis of modern day Confucianism. One-colour illustrations are included at the beginning of each chapter and reflect the topic; they aren't intrusive and are really quite beautiful. There are more elaborate, in-depth editions available for more willing students, but as a starting block this one is certainly worthy of your attentions.

4 sage beards out of 5

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