I’ve just received a copy of the new Johnston and Wang translation of Daxue and Zhongyong from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press (distributed in the US by Columbia University Press). Since there are quite a few translations of these texts around, and it doesn’t seem that one can get a Table of Contents or much information from the CUP or Amazon websites, I thought I’d share a bit about the volume here.
The two main distinctions of this volume are: (1) it contains complete translations of two different versions of each text, together with complete translations of a total of three commentaries; and (2) all text (main work and all commentaries) is provided in both Chinese and the English translation. In other words, not only are we given the full Zheng Xuan and Kong Yingda commentaries from the authoritative Tang versions of the two texts (as chapters in the Liji), but we are also given a full translation of each text done in light of these commentaries. Then the whole process is repeated, for each text, with Zhu Xi’s commentaries (and a translation a la Zhu Xi). It’s quite fascinating, and should be an excellent tool for those interested in research or teaching concerning the changes from Tang to Song. For example, Curie Virag’s excellent article “Emotions and Human Agency in the Thought of Zhu Xi” [Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies, 2007] makes much of the change from the authoritative Tang-commentary edition of the classics, to Zhu Xi’s; the present book allows a readers to examine such questions for themselves.
In addition to these virtues, the book also contains a variety of helpful supporting material, such as extensive discussion of the meanings and possible translations of various key terms (the authors argue that no satisfactory rendering of ren 仁, cheng 誠, yi 義, and li 禮 can be found, and leave these transliterated), as well as some discussion of the approaches and pros and cons of each of the previous translations of these texts.
That sounds like a really great book, and I’d really like to buy it, but $80 is pretty steep… On the other hand, ctext.org is free. I know most academics aren’t very technically inclined, but I feel like something valuable like this book would be more useful to the public if it were made available online for free instead of just as an expensive physical book. I probably will end up buying this at some point, but it’s a shame that this can’t be free.
Just FYI, there is more information online, including the TOC and sample pages from the introduction(s), at the Chinese University Press website:
Check on Amazon’s for other bookstore partners. I got it second hand for about $35.