The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century (2 Vol. Set) New Ed Edition
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About the Author
- Publisher : Brill; New Ed edition (July 30, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1349 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9004153640
- ISBN-13 : 978-9004153646
- Item Weight : 5.76 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.35 x 3.64 x 9.35 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,668,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If we compare the IdR translation to Kahn's, the single biggest thing you will notice is the spelling of all things Mongol. Example, IdR spells Genghis Khan as Cinggis Qa'an while Kahn gives an acceptable Chingis Khan. Also be prepared for a million accents over letters, which adds to the challenge. Many character names are easy to connect, but this is an issue with place names, verbs, nouns, etc. It is challenging. Without choosing a tortuous example to make my point above, I will instead offer an example in translational difference that will hopefully give you a sense of what to expect:
IdR, p64 #144: "Buyiruq Qan of the Naiman separated from the rest and went towards Uluk Taq on the southern side of the Altai Mountains. Qutu, the son of Toqto'a of the Merkit, went towards the Selengge River. Quduqa Beki of the Oyirat went towards the Sisgis River, making for the forest. A'ucu Ba'atur of the Tayici'ut went towards the Onan river."
Kahn, p55: "Buyirugh Khan left Jamugha and rode off for the Altai to the west. Khudu retreated with his people north to the Selenge River. Khudukha Beki ran back to the forests as far as the Shisgis. And Aguchu the Brave led the Tayichgud back to the Onan."
Naturally this is describing events just prior to Genghis being wounded in the neck and Jelme sucking the blood to save him, and it is obvious which is easy going and which one demands effort. No one will ever mistake this version of TSH as a lean-read: the two volumes weigh in at 1,349 pages. That's actually the easy part. The introduction alone is 50-pages followed by extensive notes. The twelve chapters run 220 pages. For comparison, the Kahn version is 176 pages using a much smaller font and no footnotes at the bottom. After the translation there is 421 pages of commentary focused verse by verse. Volume II starts on p643 with a continuation of commentary that lets up on page 1044. There are tons of interesting historical comments, but you should also be prepared to suffer serious debate on linguistics and the quality of other translations. I don't think most people will survive plowing through the comments, and I am going to offer two examples:
I chose comment #275 because I just finished Conn Iggulden's "Empire of Silver" and this may shed a little light on how far off he was in the relationship he portrayed between the Mongol princes on the Great Raid with Subodai: `Refused to join the feast', lit. `without feasting the feast.' The angry scathing remarks of Buri, Guyuk, and Harqasun call for comment. Buri first raises the point that Batu is not superior in rank to them and should not have drunk first. Secondly, he emphasizes that Batu is actually inferior to them as a man, and is more like a woman, even though he has a beard, and carries a quiver (adds Guyuk). Buri goes on saying, contemptuously, that the way to treat such `women' is to kick them and tread on them. Guyuk goes even further in vituperation and says that they should be whipped or hit with burning sticks - a form of punishment inflicted on female criminals, implying thereby that Batu not only lacks manliness but is also evil. Harqasun joins Buri and Guyuk in their tirade and suggests they should attach a tail to Batu - as a jibe - thus adding insult to injury.
There is a ton of fascinating info in the comments. There is also tonnage of stuff like this..."As in previous occurrences of this name, `Uighurs' is written Ui'ut, the plural of Ui'ur < Uiqur (=Uiyur)." If you are not trying to unravel the proper linguistics of TSH, this stuff is either going to kill you or wickedly sharpen your skimming skills.
After the commentary ends on p1044, there is an appendix to p1080. There is a chronology of Genghis's campaigns from 1204-1219 (nice that he includes the Chinese year as in Pig, Rat, etc). The bibliography runs from 1081-1194, followed by an index from 1195-1314. Grammar and Lexis runs from 1315 to 1342 with the last 147 pages being fine print, and the book ends with 6-pages of Additions & Corrections. Added to all this, thankfully, is 12 photos/illustrations, maps of Mongolia in 1200 and Eurasia in 1210, and a genealogy of Temujin and the origin of the Mongol clans.
I'm very happy to have purchased Igor de Rachewiltz's study of TSH and will likely use the book for the rest of my life. If you're still reading this review, then this version may indeed be for you.