6. Confucius – The Analects

The ideas in the book are attributed to Confucius (551 – 479 BC). The book was completed by his followers around 400 BC.

Original language: Classical Chinese.

I read the Simon Leys translation (2014), edited by Michael Nylan, published by W.W. Norton.

From the translator’s introduction:
“A classic is essentially a text that is open-ended — in the sense that it lends itself constantly to new developments, new commentaries, different interpretations.”
From the same, quoting Jorge Luis Borges:
“Readers create anew the books they read. Shakespeare is more rich today than when he wrote. Cervantes too.”

The Analects itself — kind of boring. A few pithy phrases, though.

My overall impression of the Analects – boring and disappointing. Better than the Avesta (not saying much). Favorite line – (5.20) Lord Ji Wen always thought thrice before acting. Hearing this, the Master said: “Twice is enough.”


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