Record of Daily Knowledge and Collected Poems and Essays

Selections

Gu Yanwu. Translated and edited by Ian Johnston

Columbia University Press

Record of Daily Knowledge and Collected Poems and Essays

Google Preview

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231170482

352 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.95

Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231542678

352 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.95

Record of Daily Knowledge and Collected Poems and Essays

Selections

Gu Yanwu. Translated and edited by Ian Johnston

Columbia University Press

Gu Yanwu pioneered the late-Ming and early Qing-era practice of Han Learning, or Evidential Learning, favoring practical over theoretical approaches to knowledge. He strongly encouraged scholars to return to the simple, ethical precepts of early Confucianism, and in his best-known work, Rizhi lu (Record of Daily Knowledge), he applied this paradigm to literature, government, economics, history, education, and philology. This volume includes translations of selected essays from Rizhi lu and Gu Yanwu's Shiwen Ji (Collected Poems and Essays), along with an introduction explaining the personal and political dimensions of the scholar's work.

Gu Yanwu wrote the essays and poems featured in this volume while traveling across China during the decades immediately after the fall of the Ming Dynasty. They merge personal observation with rich articulations of Confucian principles and are, as Gu said, "not old coin but copper dug from the hills." Like many of his contemporaries, Gu Yanwu believed the Ming Dynasty had suffered from an overconcentration of power in its central government and recommended decentralizing authority while strengthening provincial self-government. In his introduction, Ian Johnston recounts Gu Yanwu's personal history and reviews his published works, along with their scholarly reception. Annotations accompany his translations, and a special essay on feudalism by Tang Dynasty poet and scholar Liu Zongyuan (773–819) provides insight into Gu Yanwu's later work on the subject.
Gu Yanwu is a towering figure in modern Chinese thought, and the political ideas and research methods in his Record of Daily Knowledge inspired the major intellectual movements of the Qing Dynasty. Ian Johnston makes Gu's notoriously difficult writings accessible to English-language readers for the first time. Meticulously translated, Johnston's Gu is a gift to China studies and to the comparative history of political thought. John Delury, Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies (Seoul)
Gu Yanwu's Record of Daily Knowledge consists of more than a thousand notes and essays he wrote after the collapse of Ming China in the seventeenth-century. For those who have the impression that Confucian political philosophy is essentially "applied virtue ethics," focusing on the cultivation of personal virtues of literati-officials, Gu offers a refreshing alternative vision of Confucianism as the art of statecraft, emphasizing the need for institutional reform, the balance of power, and the importance of a humane economy. Gu's hope for an ideal society, in which people are free from the domination of arbitrary political and economic power, still speaks to us today. In this sense, Ian Johnston's lucid and compelling translation is a timely gift. Yang Xiao, Kenyon College
Acknowledgments
List of Bibliographical Abbreviations
Introduction
Part I. Essays from the Record of Daily Knowledge (Rizhi Lu—RZL)
1. RZL 1–7: The Classics
2. RZL 8–12: Administration and Economics
3. RZL 13–15: Customs and Mores
4. RZL 16–17: The Examination System
5. RZL 18–21: Literature and Philosophy
6. RZL 22–32: Miscellaneous
Part II. Essays, Letters, and Prefaces from Collected Poems and Essays (Tinglin Shiwenji—SWJ)
1. SWJ 1: Statecraft Essays
2. SWJ 2: Prefaces
3. SWJ 3: Letters 1
4. SWJ 4: Letters 2
5. SWJ 5: Records, Inscriptions, and Other Writings
6. SWJ 6: Miscellaneous
Part III. Poems from Collected Poems and Essays (Tinglin Shiwenji—SWJ)
Appendix 1. Biographical Summary
Appendix 2. Works by Gu Yanwu
Appendix 3. Zhang Binglin's Preface to Huang Kan's Rizhi Lu Jiaoji
Appendix 4. On the Feudal System (Fengjian Lun)—Liu Zongyuan
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), born in the late years of the Ming Dynasty, had an unusual education, supervised by his grandfather and his adoptive mother, Wang. The latter, a woman of high principles, starved herself to death rather than live under the rule of the Manchus. She implored her son never to serve the dynasty in an official capacity. Complying with her deathbed wish, Gu Yanwu led an itinerant and eventful life, devoting himself to study and writing on a wide range of subjects. His overall aim, once hope of a Ming restoration had faded, was the betterment of self and society. The foundations of his thought were a deep study of the original classics and devolution in administration. After his death, his writings, when finally published, had a profound and enduring influence.

Ian Johnston is an independent scholar and translator. He has published translations of early Chinese philosophical works and Chinese poetry, as well as translations of classical Greek medical texts.