Growth Texts


These are texts, or more properly corpora, which grow by the addition of whole texts, not by modules of Accretion whose result is a single text. The titles of Accumulated Texts are often cover titles, such as "Gwandz" for the large body of material preserved over centuries by a little-known group of Chi statecraft thinkers. Texts within an Accumulated Text typically have their own titles; they may or may not have a standard sequence position within the accumulation. Thus the Mician corpus has come down to us in a form that is well ordered by type (the ethical writings, organized in triplets, being separate from the military writings, and so on), whereas the Platonic corpus has not (leaving it to modern scholars to distinguish early from late works).

The accumulated text trove of a long-lived school of thought will often reflect changes of position during the period of its existence; examples are given below. Those differences are one way in which an accumulated texts is recognized in the first place. A single work that takes a long time to compose may also reflect differences of treatment or interest, as the author gains in skill or human understanding. It is a nice task to learn to distinguish between the two types of difference. Compare, with the examples below, some of those listed under other categories, such as Integral Texts and Repertoires.

Chinese Examples

Gwandz. The association with the 07th century Chi statesman Gwan Jung (whence "Master Gwan") is untenable, and indeed was not asserted in what seem to be the earliest texts in the accumulation. We do not know who the first writers may have been, but they seem to represent one or more statecraft advocacy groups in Chi, beginning in the early middle 04th century; the latest material reaches into the Han. The 86 texts composing the Gwandz (of which 76 are extant) have separate titles, some of them with a tenuous connection with the chapter contents. Some subseries, notably the late economics chapters, have a collective title of their own ("Ching/Jung"). Some early individual GZ chapters are Accretional or Juxtaposed in type; the later ones are largely integral. A few late texts in the collection are commentaries on selected early texts. These commentarial links strongly argue for continuity of proprietorship between the earliest and latest material, so that the Gwandz is not simply an artifact of the tidiness of Lyou Syang, the Palace bibliographer who edited the disordered materials available to him into the corpus as we presently have it.

Gwandz 35. This famous economic treatise advocates state spending for the benefit of the lower population; it has attracted much attention from modern theorists of the welfare state, and in an indirect way may have influenced the policies of Roosevelt. Its position is not only opposed, but ridiculed, in Gwandz 71. The latter statement has the effect of neutralizing GZ 35 without actually removing it from the body of texts regarded as constitutive by the Gwandz group: they are a sort of implicit negative commentary. The drastic shift of position between GZ 35 and 71 is not the sort of change that we expect to find within the work of a single author, and to that extent implies a school rather than a person as the text proprietor; it is one factor which defines the Gwandz as an accumulation of separate works rather than an authorial work of many chapters. The sense of a policy shift which the documents themselves convey can be corroborated by other evidence. Indications of a substantive sort (most obviously the observance of some early Han name taboos) point to an early Han date for GZ 35; its economic policy would also be consistent with the sort of Dauist populism that received a respectful hearing at the court of Emperor Wvn (reigned 0179-0157); this is the period of what is called Hwang/Lau thought. The more exploitive position of GZ 71 and others of the "ching/jung" series of Gwandz chapters, on the other hand, is consonant with the economic centralism which became state policy in the early years of Emperor Wu (reigned 0140-087). Thus despite its relatively low number, GZ 35 is not a pre-Imperial work, still less a treatise by the all but fictive Gwan Jung.

It is perfectly possible for a single person to have lived and worked through both the periods defined by GZ 35 and GZ 71, so that the notion of a single author for at least these two pieces is not self-refuting. An example is Szma Tan, the first author of the Shr Ji, who came to maturity in the late years of Emperor Wvn and rose to a Palace-level office (as Grand Astrologer) in the early years of Emperor Wu. Tan was deeply influenced by the Dauist populism to which he was exposed in his youth, and remained a votary of that position through the rest of his life; many chapters of the Shr Ji attest that advocacy. His disapproval of the new centralization policy (which is implicit in GZ 71) is equally apparent, and in chapters written at the end of his life (that is, in 0110 and 0109), his opposition becomes uncharacteristically violent; we get from those writings a sense of betrayal. This is probably more typical of the way an individual reacts to changes in the political ambience, though we do not know how far the personnel of the Gwandz group in c0160 may have overlapped that of c0120, or how supple may have been the spines of any persons present in both rosters. The default presumption, the better guess, is probably that GZ 35 and GZ 71 have different authors, within the "Gwandz" party, as well as expressing different policies.

Mwodz. The archive of statements issued by the little-understood but clearly sub-elite Mician movement, whose founder was Mwo Di. There are well-defined areas within the repertoire: ethical position papers (MZ 1-39), treatises on the laws of thought (MZ 40-45), an anecdotal series, probably written in Lu and comprising a sort of Mician Analects (MZ 46-50), and the defensive military treatises (MZ 51-71). Each of these subsets forms a corpus of its own, with its own typical module of accretion and characteristic formal gestures. The anecdotal chapters in particular are Accretional, and parallel the Analects of Lu for their entire combined length; a period of about 70 years. They also imitate the anecdotal form of the Analects of Lu, a form which is not found in the rest of the Mwodz. It is in these chapters, and only these, that statements exist on which later scholars have based the conclusion that Mwodz himself was a product of the School of Confucius.

Mwodz 19. This is the last of a set of three chapters under the rubric "Against War" in the ethical treatises section of the larger Mwodz. As against the first and presumptively earliest of those chapters, Mwodz 17, which really is against war, and which ridicules war as the cultural expression of an outmoded knightly elite and a disaster to business and the rights of the small householder, Mwodz 19 adopts a "righteous war" theory, according to which the state may embark on offensive operations if it is morally justified in doing so. This is a drastic revision, rather than a development, of the position defined in Mwodz 17, and suggests that the Mician school had undergone a major change of heart. In particular, it would seem to have adjusted itself to the same government position which had earlier almost defined itself by opposing. There are other indications of just this change of stance elsewhere in the main set of Mician ethical writings, including the entire series of three essays upholding the value of complete subordination of officials to their spurious. The implication is that the school as a whole had evolved socially to the point where they were themselves at the level where official careers were possible. As with GZ 35 and 71 (see above), these internal differences are a strong argument against a theory that one person wrote the entire body of ethical treatises.

Circumstances alter convictions, and official circumstances profoundly alter convictions. The French Admiral Darlan was originally receptive to some of Churchill's collaborative proposals in the early days of WW2. On being challenged concerning a sudden and drastic change in that position, he replied to Churchill, "But now I am Minister of Marine." It was his duty to represent, not himself, but his government. Similarly, some key Mician, as of Mwodz 19, had in all human probability had either become, or had reached the point of reporting to, the then Minister of War in one or another of the Warring States. As to the identity of that Mician, or of any other leading figure in this highly disciplined movement after the founder, Mwo Di, we have not even the basis for a conjecture. The school has seamlessly maintained its authorial persona.

Mencius Transcripts. Mencius wrote nothing himself; he was a political theorist still operating in the mode of a wisdom teacher rather than a political pamphleteer. His textual leavings, at the end of his career, comprised little more than his copy of the transcripts of the major interviews which he had with the major and minor rulers of his time, over approximately the period 0320-0310. Those transcripts, arranged with one exception in chronological order, make up the original portion of Mencius 1. The rest of that chapter, and the other chapters in the present Mencius, all represent later added material; see under Accretional.

Sywndz. Sywn Kwang (c0310-c0235), coming in the generation which barely overlapped with Mencius, was the first Confucian figure to cross the line between wisdom pronouncements and written treatises. Unlike Mencius, he left a body of writing behind him. The Sywndzian repository differs from the Mwodz repository in that most of it can actually be regarded as proceeding from the school founder, Sywn Kwang, with some chapters probably finalized or composed by members of his staff, from the time when Sywndz became Governor of Lan-ling in 0254 until his loss of Chu court patronage in 0237. A few chapters were probably added to the corpus by unknown hands in the years after 0237, though the situation of the Sywndz organization at this time is extremely unclear. The Sywndz materials as a whole are thus a school repository, but one having much of the character of an authorial repository. Works begun under his aegis, such as the Ar Ya (see in Extended), were sometimes extended in later periods, by other hands.

Lun Hvng. The collected animadversions (the title is more precisely "Adjudications") of the Latter Han essayist Wang Chung, a friend and exact contemporary of Ban Gu, the chief author of the Han Shu. This collection takes the precedent of the Sywndz school repository (see above) into new territory by regarding the lifetime output of one person not as a corpus of texts with authorial coherence, but more drastically, as a single named text. It does not impugn the presumption of single authorship that the early essays in the Lun Hvng are more fractious and oppositional, while the later ones have greater equilibrium and show more pronounced respect for the [Latter] Han dynasty as such. These differences evince a conservatizing tendency, a style difference which is often seen in persons as they age, rather than a strictly philosophical difference, such as might require some circumstantial explanation if we are to maintain the hypothesis of a single individual.

The next step in the regarding of lifework as work, the point reached by Wang Chung, is to regard life itself as work. This is more or less the step taken by Alfred Jarry, who liked to say, of his wretched existence in general, "But isn't it lovely as literature?"

Other Examples

Platonic Corpus. The body of works attributed to Plato (c429-347). The principal ones are in dialogue form or in a dialogue-derived prose form. Plato was a professional teacher, so his corpus is at once an authorial corpus and a school curriculum. He was prominent in his day, and remained so afterward, so that some dialogues by other authors have found their way into the Platonic corpus. There is no given order within the corpus, but philology has made some progress toward distinguishing early and late works.

Identifying spurious works, and getting them to stay out of the corpus once they have been identified, has not been as successful. As of OCD2, Alcibiades 1 and 2 were definitely out, but OCD3 records this as merely an opinion, not a verdict, and ventures no list of definitely spurious works. The heart and the hand are irrevocably opposed, in many of the questions with which it is the province of philology to deal.

Horace Epistles 1. Horace's first book of epistles is not an integral composition. The individual epistles contained in it were singly composed (and individually and privately distributed, as they were composed), and at the same time, were saved up until published by the author as a unit. That a single epistle was also capable of being regarded as a separate work, in the public sense, is shown by the so-called Ars Poetica (so called by the time of Quintilian; originally an epistle directed to one Piso and his two sons), later added to the end of Epistles 2.

Horace Carmina 1-3. This body of lyric poetry was meant by Horace to represent his life work in that genre, and ends (with the "aere perennius" claim in 3:30) with a strong statement of the immortality he believed that he had achieved with it. Let any who doubt the final-statement character of 3:30, read it and then make their case, if they dare:

Exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruiere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum.

Non omnis moriar: multaque pars mei
vitabit Libitinam: usque ego postera
crescam laude recens. Dum Capitolium
scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex,
dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
regnavit populorum, ex humili potens
princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.

These three Books show evidence (especially clear in the metrical groupings) of final editorial shaping, but the work itself was done sequentially, over a working lifetime, and was not composed in anticipation of that pattern. This collected work, Carmina 1-3, was published in 023. For its later resumption, see under Layered Texts.

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