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Chuang-Tzu: The Inner Chapters (Hackett Classics) 4.1.2001 Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872205819
ISBN-10: 0872205819
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Editorial Reviews


Graham's study and translation of the Zhuangzi remains one of the most valuable and important sources for students of Zhuangzi's thought. The Introduction is remarkably rich, and the combination of philological care and philosophical insight that Graham brings to the text make this the most philosophically revealing and productive translation available. --Philip J. Ivanhoe, Boston University

More than just a translation of the renowned seven initial chapters of this foundational Taoist text, Angus Graham's Chuang-Tzu: The Inner Chapters includes about four-fifths of the entire work. It is the only Western translation organized around the distinct philosophical viewpoints in the text, and it is without a doubt the most innovative, philologically precise and religiously significant. It has been out of print for most of the past decade and its republication is most welcome. --Harold D. Roth, Brown University

Angus Graham was for many of us the most distinguished sinologist of his generation. This annotated translation of the Zhuangzi is a splendid demonstration that only his rare combination of philological and philosophical acuity can provide the Western reader nuanced access to the profundity and humor of one of the world’s masterpieces of philosophical literature. --Roger T. Ames, University of Hawaii

Language Notes

Text: English, Chinese (translation)
Original Language: Chinese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Hackett Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.; 4.1.2001 edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872205819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872205819
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 153 people found the following review helpful By S. Little on March 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The present version of the ancient Taoist book on philosophy titled Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) was edited by Kuo Hsiang around 300 CE. He edited an earlier version consisting of 52 sections down to 33 sections, the omitted 19 sections were considered inferior and of a spurious nature. The 33 sections were divided into the inner chapters (seven sections), outer chapters (15 sections) and miscellaneous chapters (11 sections.).

The inner chapters the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) are considered to be the most authentic chapters and most likely to have been written by Zhuangzi or at least written by a brilliant and keen mind. (The inner chapters probably date to around the second century BCE.) The inner chapters contain all the important ideas and are consistently brilliant. The outer and miscellaneous chapters are more uneven and sometimes contain excellent pieces of philosophical writing and others times are the work of a feeble scribbler--to quote the famous Chinese translator Arthur Waley.


From the above, one can see why the late sinologist Angus Graham wisely chose to only translate the inner chapters of Zhuangzi[Mea Culpa, this last statement is incorrect.] However, at least two things are essential for a good translation, capturing the meaning and getting the flow. If a translation sounds awkward or is not otherwise enjoyable to read it is not a successful translation.

This translation is more suitable for a scholar as it is uses terminology that is technically precise, but arcane and awkward in many places. The style of this translation is very academic.
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By tepi on May 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Chuang Tzu is the wisest, wittiest, and easiest-to-read of all philosophical writers, and also the greatest. And the question that A. C. Graham's 'Chuang-Tzu - The Inner Chapters' raises in an acute form is this: Do you want to read Chuang Tzu himself? Or do you want to study what a scholarly mind thinks about him, and in the process have your mind carefully adjusted so that you will end up thinking in the same way too?
In other words, are you a mature and sensible person with an enquiring mind, who for some reason or other has become interested in China's most brilliant philosophical rascal - one who would have let out a howl of laughter if shown the present book? Or are you a student being run through society's ideological mill, and one needing to grub up on the history of Chinese philosophy and Chuang Tzu's relation to the Mohists and Logicians and other such extraneous stuff, a mill for whom Chuang Tzu is just another 'philosopher' (a word that hardly describes him since he's something much bigger)?
If you are one of the latter, perhaps Graham, who is one of the world's foremost Sinologists and a brilliant translator, is the man for you. So far as Graham is concerned, and many agree, most of the received text of Chuang Tzu wasn't written by Chuang Tzu at all. He feels that only the first seven chapters, the 'Inner Chapters,' are Chuang Tzu's own work, the other chapters being a collection of pieces written by others, and in his edition has rearranged the text to bring it into line with his thesis.
Consequently his book falls into six parts: 1. Introduction; 2. The Inner Chapters and related passages; 3. A 'School of Chuang-tzu' selection; 4. The essays of the Primitivists; 5. The Yangist miscellany; 6. The Syncretist writings.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DocCaligari on April 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best translations of the writings attributed to the brilliant Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu. Although less well known outside of China than "Lao Tzu," the reputed author of the _Tao Te Ching_, Chuang Tzu, who lived in the 4th century B.C., is both one of history's greatest anti-rationalist philosophers and one of the best prose stylist of world literature. Among the most famous (and moving) passages in his eponymous work is the story of how Chuang Tzu (whose full name is Chuang Chou) dreamed he was a butterfly, and, upon awakening, "does not know whether he is Chou who dreams he is a butterfly or a butterfly who dreams he is Chou."
Graham gives a complete translation of the "Inner Chapters," which are regarded by many scholars as the authentic works of Chuang Tzu, and also gives selections from later Taoist works, attributed to Chuang Tzu (but probably from other philosophers). Graham's interpretive Introduction (with sections on such tasty topics as "Rejection of Logic" and "Death and Mutilation") is itself one of the classic interpretations of Chuang Tzu's philosophy.
Readers familiar with the _Chuang Tzu_ from other translations will notice that Graham has rearranged some sections of the text. This is not mere whim on Graham's part, but part of his thoughtful view that parts of the text have been moved from their original locations due to textual corruption as the book was recopied by generations of scribes.
As you can see, this book is currently out of print (which is a testament to both the poor taste of much of the book-buying public, and to the near-sightedness of publishers). I sincerely hope that some publisher will pick up the rights to this outstanding translation.
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