Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy


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Variations on a Theme

Etienne Balazs; Translated by H.M. Wright; Edited by Arthur F. Wright

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Born in Hungary, trained in Chinese studies in Germany, Etienne Balazs was, until his sudden and premature death in 1963, a professor at the Sorbonne and an intellectual leader among European specialists on China.  In this book, a selection of Dr. Balazs’ essays are presented for the first time in English.  Arthur F. Wright, professor of history at Yale, and John K. Fairbank, professor of history at Harvard, have written a joint Preface and Mr. Wright has written an Introduction. Scholars and interested laymen will find a rich feast here in essays ranging over two thousand years of China’s social, economic, political, and intellectual history.  A wealth of data supports the various theories Dr. Balazs develops, in a graceful translation by Hope N. Wright. 
Because Etienne Balazs regarded the Chinese past not as a curiosity but as a repository of relevant human experience, his essays are significant for anyone interested in the past and future of civilization. "If a reader should disagree with some of the brilliant points, he would still find them challenging and refreshing."—Journal of Asian Studies.

"This volume will stimulate all scholars who seriously look for the clue to China's paradoxical history and for cautions it may offer to political planners of the future."—American Historical Review

"It is a distinctive feature of this work that the author is concerned about both past and present, thus making most of these essays exceedingly relevant to those interested in the contemporary Chinese scene."—Asian Survey

"If a reader should disagree with some of the brilliant points, he would still find them challenging and refreshing."—James T. C. Liu, Journal of Asian Studies

"The translation of Dr. Balazs's text is done with expertness, assurance, and elegance. . . . It is above all a pleasure to observe enthusiastic and skillful scholarship range, unfettered, over a wide variety of diverse aspects of classical Chinese culture. . . . It is a work in which one can browse with real delight and appreciation."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"The author (1905-1963) was a brilliant scholar of Chinese history and civilization. His major contributions fall mainly within the area of political, social and economic institutions. This volume contains English translations of a selection of his shorter works, nine articles on institutions ("The birth of capitalism in China" was originally a lecture given in English), two on history, and three on thought. Although the author was often more critical of the scholar-officials in traditional China than sympathetic to them, his writings are so full of interesting ideas and insights that they will remain stimulating for many years."—Histoire et Sciences Sociales
ISBN: 9780300094565
Publication Date: March 11, 1967
336 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4