Book Project: Discourse on Chuang Tzu


Book Project - Discourse on Chuang Tzu

The Chuang Tzu (莊子) is an ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (3rd century BC) which contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Daoist sage. Named for its traditional author, "Master Zhuang", the Zhuangzi is one of the two foundational texts of Daoismm—along with the Dao De Jing —and is generally considered the most important of all Daoist writings.


The Chuang Tzu consists of a large collection of anecdotes, allegories, parables, and fables, which are often humorous or irreverent in nature. Its main themes are of spontaneity in action and of freedom from the human world and its conventions. The fables and anecdotes in the text attempt to illustrate the falseness of human distinctions between good and bad, large and small, life and death, and human and nature. While other philosophers wrote of moral and personal duty, Chaung Tzu promoted carefree wandering and becoming one with "the Way" by following nature.


Though primarily known as a philosophical work, the Chuang Tzu is regarded as one of the greatest literary works in all of Chinese history, and has been called "the most important pre-Qinn text for the study of Chinese literature." A masterpiece of both philosophical and literary skill, it has significantly influenced writers for more than 2000 years from the Han dynasty to the present. Many major Chinese writers and poets in history—such as Sima Xiangru and Sima Qian during the Han dynasty, Ruan Ji and Tao Yuanming during the Six Dynasties, Li Bai during the Tang dynasty, and Su Shi and Lu You in the Song dynasty— were influenced by Chuang Tzu.


Unlike other ancient Chinese works, whose allegories were usually based on historical legends and proverbs, most Chuang Tzu stories seem to have been invented by Zhuangzi himself. Some are completely whimsical, such as the strange description of evolution from "misty spray" through a series of substances and insects to horses and humans (chapter 18), while a few other passages seem to be sheer playful nonsense which read like Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky". The Zhuangzi is full of quirky and fantastic characters, such as "Mad Stammerer", "Fancypants Scholar", "Sir Plow", and a man who believes his left arm will turn into a rooster, his right arm will turn into a crossbow, and his buttocks will become cartwheels.


A master of language, Chaung Tzu sometimes engages in logic and reasoning, but then turns it upside down or carries the arguments to absurdity to demonstrate the limitations of human knowledge and the rational world. Some of ChaungTzu's reasoning, such as his renowned argument with his philosopher friend Huizi (Master Hui) about the joy of fish (chapter 17), have been compared to the Socratic and Platonic dialogue traditions, and Huizi's paradoxes near the end of the book have been termed "strikingly like those of Zeno of Elea."


In human world, there are many books but all of them talk about things that are in existence, some books about things that are in nonexistence. But there is only one book Chuang Tzu talking about things that are of being, things that are of nonbeing and "things" that are beyond either being or nonbeing, free of any limitations. So, we can conclude Chuang Tzu 'surpass' all written materials in terms of directing and guiding people to walk along the correct enlightenment path in transcending all limitations. That is the true value of the Chuang Tzu book.

We have finished the new book of Chuang Tzu with its 33 chapters, of which each is given annotation for better understanding the great ancient Chinese literature milestone and the fundamental master piece of Taoism. It would be well over 3 volumes. Here we want to find a great editor to make this book more fascinating and attractive and adapted to Western style.

Up to now there have been many Chuang Tzu translation versions like that by Lin Yutang, James Legge, Burton Watson, James Ware, Herbert A. Giles, E.A. GUGHES, Martin Palmer, Victor H. Mair, but these versions mistake the meaning hidden in background and lack the annotation for better understanding.

Each chapter of the book we wrote boasts one or two or three typical ancient Chinese line art illustrations and it would make this book different from all other translation versions. Annotation is the different part and it occupies big part in the whole book..


Features of the New Book in Comparison with Other Translation Versions

  1. Original Chinese text is translated second time with more accuracy to demonstrate the author's meaning. By our estimate all other versions of Zhuang Tzu mistake the meaning 30 % - 45% in translation. Without a Chinese who know ancient Chinese language, who know Taoism, Buddhism, Taoist alchemy and so on it is doomed to have such results.
  2. For each anecdotes, allegories, parables, and fables we offer explanation using Taoism theory, Buddhism theory, Taoist inner alchemy practice and so on, for people to better understand.
  3. Annotation occupies 50% - 60% of the whole book. Most other versions lack such distinctive part.
  4. More than 60 line art Chinese Illustrations are created to decorate each chapter, making the whole book attractive, elegant and full of art flavor. Most other translation versions lack such part.

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