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Chinese Literature
Comprising The Analects of Confucius, The Sayings of Mencius, The Shi-King, The Travels of Fâ-Hien, and The Sorrows of Han
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The Analects of Confucius Translated into English by William Jennings Confucius believed that the welfare of a country depended on the moral cultivation of its people, beginning from the nation's leadership. He believed that individuals could begin to cultivate an all-encompassing sense of virtue through ren, and that the most basic step to cultivating ren was devotion to one's parents and older siblings. He taught that one's individual desires do not need to be suppressed, but that people should be educated to reconcile their desires via rituals and forms of propriety, through which people could demonstrate their respect for others and their responsible roles in society. Confucius taught that a ruler's sense of virtue was his primary prerequisite for leadership. His primary goal in educating his students was to produce ethically well-cultivated men who would carry themselves with gravity, speak correctly, and demonstrate consummate integrity in all things. The Sayings of Mencius Mencius was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, after only Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius' fourth generation of disciples. Mencius inherited Confucius' ideology and developed it further.[2][3] Living during the Warring States period, he is said to have spent much of his life travelling around the states offering counsel to different rulers. Conversations with these rulers form the basis of the Mencius, which would later be canonised as a Confucian classic. One primary principle of his work is that human nature is righteous and humane. The responses of citizens to the policies of rulers embodies this principle, and a state with righteous and humane policies will flourish by nature. The citizens, with freedom from good rule, will then allocate time to caring for their wives, brothers, elders, and children, and be educated with rites and naturally become better citizens. On education: According to Mencius, education must awaken the innate abilities of the human mind. He denounced memorization and advocated active interrogation of the text, saying, "One who believes all of a book would be better off without books." One should check for internal consistency by comparing sections and debate the probability of factual accounts by comparing them with experience. The Shi-KingThe Shih Ching (The book of poetry) predates Confucius by some three centuries, although he is often credited with arranging it into its current form sometime around 520 B.C. This work is a compilation of some three hundred verses of poetry illustrating the proper conduct of a sovereign and general rules “for inculcation of propriety and righteousness.” The Travels of Fâ-Hien Faxian, also referred to as Fa-Hien, was a Chinese Buddhist monk and translator who traveled by foot from China to India to acquire Buddhist texts. Starting his arduous journey about age 60, he visited sacred Buddhist sites in Central, South and Southeast Asia between 399 and 412 CE, of which 10 years were spent in India. He described his journey in his travelogue, A Record of Buddhist Kingdoms. His memoirs are notable independent record of early Buddhism in India. He took with him a large number of Sanskrit texts, whose translations influenced East Asian Buddhism. -Wikipedia The Sorrows of Han Translated into English by John Francis Davis "The Sorrows of Han" is considered by Chinese scholars to be one of the largest tragedies in the whole range of the Chinese drama, which is very voluminous. Although, properly speaking, there are no theatres in China, the Chinese are passionately fond of dramatic representations. Chinese acting is much admired and praised by travellers who are competent to follow the dialogue. The stage is generally a temporary erection improvised in a market-place, and the stage arrangements are of the most primitive character; no scenery is employed, and the actors introduce themselves in a sort of prologue, in which they state the name and character they represent in the drama. They also indicate the place where they are in the story, or the house which they have entered. Yet the Chinese stage has many points in common with that of Ancient Greece. It is supported and controlled by government, and has something of a religious and national character, being particularly employed for popular amusement in the celebration of religious festivals. Only two actors are allowed to occupy the stage at the same time, and this is another point in common with the early Greek drama. The plots or stories of the Chinese plays are simple and effective, and Voltaire is known to have taken the plot of a Chinese drama, as Molière took a comedy of Plautus, and applied it in writing a drama for the modern French stage. "The Sorrows of Han" belongs to the famous collection entitled "The Hundred Plays of the Yuen Dynasty." It is divided into acts and is made up of alternate prose and verse. The movement of the drama is good, and the dénouement arranged with considerable skill. -From the book
The Legge translation of Confucius, with side-by-side Chinese and English text is available from Project Gutenberg here. The audiobook of this translation, read in both languages, is available from Librivoxhere Cover art from Konfuzius circa 1770
Translated by
William Jennings, John Francis Davis
Thank you to Project Gutenberg
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