qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

The Master

Book Review: The Analects, by Confucius, translated by Arthur Waley
This has been on my mental "to read" list for some time, and it was triggered by Niall Ferguson's recent mini-series China: Triumph and Turmoil. I was somewhat unimpressed by Ferguson on this occasion: he should stick to history, and keep out of contemporary politics. In any case, the specific link between the two was his insistent non-acceptance of the apparent intrinsic self-sacrifice in China of individuality for the "common good".

Having read the book, it's clear why Mao et al would want to banish Confucianism after the revolution (it's written for an aristocratic audience, and an exclusively male one at that), and then, some time later, why they would want it back again (because of its praise of the virtues of stability and an established order). With a suitable interpretation, there's much to commend it; and certainly in this translation, there are quite a few points where a dry and wily sense of humour seems to emerge.
Tags: books, history
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