Balanced Discourses


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A Bilingual Edition

Xu Gan; English translation by John Makeham; Introductions by Dan Shengyuan and John Makeham

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Written by the Han philosopher Xu Gan (A.D. 170–217), Balanced Discourses is an inquiry into the causes of political breakdown. It provides a unique contemporary account of the social, intellectual, and cosmological factors that Xu Gan identified as having precipitated the demise of the Han order. This edition of Zhonglun (or Balanced Discourses) contains the original Chinese text with annotations and, on facing pages, an English translation also accompanied by annotations.

This collection of essays spans a range of topics, from Confucian cultivation to calendrical calculation. Xu’s perspectives are of not only historical but also philosophical interest, for they reveal his belief in a special correlative bond that should exist between names and actualities and his understanding of what happens when that bond is broken. The translator, John Makeham, argues in his introduction that the essays display the same quality of balance that Xu Gan sees as essential to social and political equilibrium.

John Makeham is senior lecturer in Chinese, University of Adelaide. Dang Shengyuan is a senior Chinese scholar.

“A judicious and eminently readable translation of an important work.”—Wai-yee Li, Harvard University

"John Makeham has once again made a solid contribution . . . to our understanding of Chinese political thought at the end of the Han dynasty. He and the editors of this series have provided students of literary Chinese and of the history of the Jian'an period with a handsome volume that should be acquired not simply as a fine addition to one's library, but as a useful and interesting book to be read and studied and through which one might even be edified."—Mark Laurent Asselin, Journal of the American Oriental Society
ISBN: 9780300092011
Publication Date: June 10, 2003
416 pages, 4 5/8 x 7 5/8
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