Isolating the Jwangdz

Harold D Roth. A Companion to Angus C Graham's Chuang Tzu. Hawaii 2003

The following was posted to the WSW list on 14 September 2003.

A C Graham

In 1951 there appeared the Lattimore translation of Homer's Iliad (by Richmond, brother of Owen). In 1976, Malcolm Willcock published A Companion to the Iliad, based on Lattimore's translation, with notes supplementing the translation, and sometimes discussing debatable points in it. Readers who had been hoping for a similar Companion to Graham's sometimes cryptic and perhaps at some points questionable translation and rearrangement of Jwangdz will be disappointed by the present work.

The Companion

The Companion is instead a collection of Graham's own notes to that translation and several of his previously published articles on the subject, with a "Colophon" by Roth and a concluding "Bibliography: The Writings of Angus C Graham." This obviously pietistic exercise takes its stand for Graham's reputation in a curious place: his Jwangdz translation. A good many scholars are prepared to grant lasting importance to Graham's work on the Mician logic, or Gungsun Lungdz, or Lyedz, but some will stop short at his Jwangdz. The Roth position, evidently, is that all of the Graham battlements are to be defended, and that all of the Graham positions are true, especially the Jwangdz.

Let it be noted that Graham himself took somewhat that view. In his Jwangdz, he explicitly abandons the methods (such as the model of broken slips) that he had used with the Mwodz. He adopts instead the idea that there was an originally coherent order of material, and that some intervening editor has produced a mess by transferring certain passages to other locations. It was then left to Graham to reverse that disordering, by putting those sections back in their original positions. The sections are not such fragments as physical damage might have produced; they are literarily integral sentences and paragraphs. What might have been the motive for the original disarrangement of this material is never addressed, and would seem difficult to supply. The hopeful reader thus goes effectively "uncompanioned" in this sensitive and troublesome area, first by Graham himself, and now also by Roth.

The Challenge

The Graham presumptions include a firm if undiscussed notion that Jwangdz wrote what are now called the Inner Chapters, JZ 1-7. In a note on Jwangdz Editions (WSWG Note 113, 30 Oct 1996; forthcoming in Warring States Papers v2), I pointed out that the "Inner" division has no standing, and indeed no existence, earlier than the post-Han commentator Gwo Syang. The Han Shu Palace Library catalogue (from the end of the 01st century) does not recognize it, and no writer who quotes the text, from Sywndz through the Analects and Lw-shr Chun/Chyou to the Shr Ji, either mentions that division or privileges those seven chapters in any way. On the contrary, all these sources quote predominantly from non-Inner chapters. The Shr Ji in particular firmly ascribes to Jwangdz's authorship several of the higher-numbered chapters, including some that will impress recent scholars as late and probably extraneous, in the Jwangdz, but none of the Inner chapters.

It might be thought that the separateness of the Inner chapters, though it has no historical standing, can nevertheless be demonstrated analytically. Graham's article How Much of the Jwangdz Did Jwangdz Write, earlier reprinted, and reprinted here yet again, purports to do this, but in fact simply assumes it. All its time is spent on the subsidiary question, How Much ELSE of the Jwangdz Did Jwangdz Write? In WSWG Note 114 (24 Dec 1996, precirculated before, and presented at, the WSWG 8 Conference; forthcoming in Warring States Papers) I pointed out that Graham's more than a hundred word and phrase usages, which were assembled as touchstones of Jwangdzian authorial character against which to evaulate the remaining text, if they are applied (as Graham does not apply them) to the Inner chapters themselves, actually show that the Inner chapters are not stylistically coherent, and cannot be by one author, whether Jwang Jou or anybody else.

A Taeko Brooks

In an AAS Conference presentation in 2002, Taeko further showed that the few words on the Graham list that do tend to link the Inner chapters with each other, overwhelmingly link what she had previously shown (WSWG Notes 108-111, 8 Sept - 11 Oct 1996) are late layers within those chapters. The clear message of this pattern is that these JZ chapters are growth texts, which began by being relatively diverse, and which only acquired the sort of vocabulary links with which Graham is concerned at a later point in their evolution. That is, the Inner chapters converged over time. They were not originally identical in viewpoint, and were presumably of different authorship. Any seeming identity which they may now display is in part an artifact of their previous evolution: an achieved, rather than an original, similarity.

If these observations about the diversity of the Inner Chapters cannot be countered, and so far no one has done so, they demolish the Graham position, and require that such merits as Graham's individual observations may possess should be reinterpreted in terms of a different paradigm for the text and for its individual chapters.

The Response

One would expect that a special publication devoted to the Graham Jwangdz thesis, and explicitly taking note of subsequent scholarship, would feel a need to deal with the above results. The Roth book does not do so. Though Roth regularly received the mailings of WSWG Notes as they were issued, and attended several of its conferences at which an accretional view of individual Inner Chapters was presented and discussed, and though he is not in principle opposed to reporting WSWG conferences (Andy Meyer's contribution to the WSWG 11th Conference, held in October 1998, is duly cited in the Colophon), and though he was the official discussant for the AAS panel of March 2002 at which Taeko's Inner Chapter synthesis was expounded (and though he cites Andy Meyer's paper which was presented at that same panel), he treats all these contrary points as though they simply did not exist. In a merely pietistic publication, a celebratory memorial volume, the omission of contrary material would doubtless be permissible. Whether it is also permissible in a work of purported scholarship, with the announced mission of viewing the Graham thesis "in the context of new research" (Editor's Preface, p3), is another question, with perhaps a different answer.

One later position of which Roth does take extensive note is Liu Xiaogan's Classifying the Zhuangzi Chapters (Michigan 1994). Disagreement is expressed with Liu on particular points (namely, the points at which he diverges from Graham), but the work is on the whole seen as supporting the Graham position. As indeed it does, in part by assuming, as Graham assumes, that the Inner chapters are a valid division of the work, and that they can without argument be assumed to be the work of Jwangdz. My WSWG Note 115 (25 Dec 1996), duly shared with Roth, and C J Fraser's review of Liu's work in Asian Philosophy v7 #2 (1997), which Roth may be presumed to have seen if he reads the professional literature, point to fallacies in Liu's argument. That note, and that review, do not figure in Roth's Colophon.

In these ways the Graham thesis is protected from criticism, and the Liu book, which substantially supports that thesis, is also protected from criticism, in Roth's Companion. The resulting edifice will doubtless seem imposing to the general reader. Specialist readers, who know what is going on in the field, will be aware that the presumptions are unsound, and that the edifice is shaky. Hopefully, some of them will continue to work at the problems which Graham has left unsolved or wrongly solved. How far any more successful solutions will companion Graham down his chosen road is a matter that may be left to the future.

E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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