Garden of Eloquence / Shuoyuan說苑
- PUBLISHED: January 2022
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Literature
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 1360 Pages, 6 x 9 in x 0in
- SERIES: Classics of Chinese Thought
- ISBN: 9780295995199
In 17 BCE the Han dynasty archivist Liu Xiang presented to the throne a collection of some seven hundred items of varying length, mostly quasi-historical anecdotes and narratives, that he deemed essential reading for wise leadership. Garden of Eloquence (Shuoyuan), divided into twenty books grouped by theme, follows a tradition of narrative writing on historical and philosophical themes that began seven centuries earlier. Long popular in China as a source of allusions and quotations, it preserves late Western Han views concerning history, politics, and ethics. Many of its anecdotes are attributed to Confucius’s speeches and teachings that do not appear in earlier texts, demonstrating that long after Confucius’s death in 479 BCE it was still possible for new “historical” narratives to be created.
Garden of Eloquence is valuable as a repository of items that originally appeared in other early collections that are no longer extant, and it provides detail on topics as various as astronomy and astrology, yin-yang theory, and quasi-geographical and mystical categories. Eric Henry’s unabridged translation with facing Chinese text and extensive annotation will make this important primary source available for the first time to Anglophone world historians.
Authors & Contributors
Eric Henry is senior lecturer emeritus of Asian studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Perhaps more than any other scholar of early China, Liu Xiang was responsible for determining the content and configuration of official Chinese knowledge. Henry’s translation makes audible in English a hitherto unheard but important voice.- Sarah Queen, Connecticut College
This definitive translation of a very important classical Chinese text with its useful scholarly apparatus will be of great value to the fields of Chinese history and literary studies.- J. Michael Farmer, University of Texas at Dallas
The Shuoyuan is one of the most important texts that have come down to us from the Han dynasty. As far as I know there has been no complete translation of this often difficult work into any European language. Eric Henry's complete and profusely annotated translation includes the establishment of a carefully collated critical text based on the best modern critical editions published in China. Professor Henry's work, based on many years of meticulous research, makes a very substantial contribution to the study of ancient Chinese intellectual history.- Christoph Harbsmeier, professor emeritus, University of Oslo