Advance Comments
on the book series
The New Chinese Classics

Ancient China in Context

Warring States Project Seal

These comments were made in 2006, in letters of recommendation to our first distributor, the University of Massachusetts Press, for a program which included these two book series, as well as the Project's journal, Warring States Papers. Like the early reviews of The Original Analects (1998), they often noted the importance of the Project's work in general:

The idea that texts have dates, and that some dates are spans rather than years; that authority texts in particular may undergo growth while still in their formative phase, and under the control of their authors or proprietors; that texts and their authors are better understood in the context of what other authors were doing, and what other texts existed, at that time; - these ideas are normal and standard in other fields of humanistic endeavor. The revolution repeatedly mentioned above comes when these ideas are systematically applied to the early Chinese texts, which many people in that field regard as something like diffuse wisdom from on high, coming together who knows how, and when we cannot say, and in general defying the laws of gravity.

The Project's picture is one where the laws of gravity do apply, where Aristotle follows and goes beyond Plato, where Horace and Vergil are Augustan contemporaries, where Anderson is burlesqued by Hemingway but shows Faulkner where the next step in the novel lies; where early texts are earlier than later texts, and where earlier and contemporary texts create a historical background against which the later texts come into being. Though too mundane for some, this view makes the Chinese past more intelligible to the others. We venture to recommend it.

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19 June 2013 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page