The New Chinese Classics

West Lake (courtesyh of Nat Krause

The transition from the Chinese classical period to the Chinese Empire in 221 BC was a centuries-long process of state rebuilding, law creation, and war. From this turbulent background there emerged the philosophies of China's Golden Age of Thought. Those philosophies, or most of them, took for their model the Jou Dynasty, which had collapsed politically and militarily in 0771, but which served as a model for those who, in a later century, were trying to recreate a unified China.

For this long-past and little-remembered "Jou," certain texts provided detail. Among them were the Shr or Classic of Poetry, a repertoire performed at the various state courts; the Shu or Classic of Documents, which were thought to preserve the words of the rulers of pre-Jou antiquity, and the Yi or Changes, a divination text used for practical prediction in one century (the 05th), and transformed into a wisdom text in the next (the 04th). For more recent times, there was the Chun/Chyou ("Spring and Autumn"), the chronicle of the state of Lu from 0721 to 0481, which came to be known to Chinese ritual theorists at the beginning of the 04c. Around that text, during the next century, there grew a romantic and politically revisionist commentary (the Dzwo Jwan); a commentary which at once replaced the original, as it still does today,

This series restores the Spring and Autumn chronicle to its proper position as the only primary source for the history of the centuries before Confucius, and treats the three supposedly more ancient texts as retrospective inventions. China in them is not only forging its future, it is constructing a past which would guide and legitimize that future,

Titles in the Series

Spring and Autumn: The Chinese World Before Confucius (expected early 2018)
A Timeless Present: The Chinese Classic of Poetry
A Usable Past: The Chinese Classic of Documents
A Visible Future: The Chinese Classic of Change

Detailed descriptions are available at the above pages, which also include an order link for books whose publication has been announced.

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14 Jan 2014 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page