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Confucius: The Great Digest, The Unwobbling Pivot, The Analects

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The study of Chinese culture was a dominant concern in Ezra Pound's life and work. His great Canto XIII is about Kung (Confucius), Cantos LII-LXI deal with Chinese history, and in the later Cantos key motifs are often given in Chinese quotations with the characters set into the English text. His introduction to Chinese and Japanese literature was chiefly through Ernest Fen The study of Chinese culture was a dominant concern in Ezra Pound's life and work. His great Canto XIII is about Kung (Confucius), Cantos LII-LXI deal with Chinese history, and in the later Cantos key motifs are often given in Chinese quotations with the characters set into the English text. His introduction to Chinese and Japanese literature was chiefly through Ernest Fenollosa whose translations and notes were given him by the scholar's widow in London about 1913. From these notebooks came, in time, the superb poems entitled Cathay and Pound's edition of Fenollosa's Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. But it was Confucius’ ethical and political teachings which most influenced Pound. And now, for the first time, his versions, with commentary, of three basic texts that he translated have been assembled in one volume: The Great Digest (Ta Hsio), first published in 1928; The Unwobbling Pivot (Chung Yung), 1947; and The Analects (Lun-yü), 1950. For the first two, the Chinese characters from the ancient "Stone Classics” are printed en face in our edition, with a note by Achilles Fang. Pound never wanted to be a literal translator. What he could do, as no other could, is to identify the essence, pick out "what matters now," and phrase it so pungently, so beautifully, that it will stick in the head and "make it new."


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The study of Chinese culture was a dominant concern in Ezra Pound's life and work. His great Canto XIII is about Kung (Confucius), Cantos LII-LXI deal with Chinese history, and in the later Cantos key motifs are often given in Chinese quotations with the characters set into the English text. His introduction to Chinese and Japanese literature was chiefly through Ernest Fen The study of Chinese culture was a dominant concern in Ezra Pound's life and work. His great Canto XIII is about Kung (Confucius), Cantos LII-LXI deal with Chinese history, and in the later Cantos key motifs are often given in Chinese quotations with the characters set into the English text. His introduction to Chinese and Japanese literature was chiefly through Ernest Fenollosa whose translations and notes were given him by the scholar's widow in London about 1913. From these notebooks came, in time, the superb poems entitled Cathay and Pound's edition of Fenollosa's Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. But it was Confucius’ ethical and political teachings which most influenced Pound. And now, for the first time, his versions, with commentary, of three basic texts that he translated have been assembled in one volume: The Great Digest (Ta Hsio), first published in 1928; The Unwobbling Pivot (Chung Yung), 1947; and The Analects (Lun-yü), 1950. For the first two, the Chinese characters from the ancient "Stone Classics” are printed en face in our edition, with a note by Achilles Fang. Pound never wanted to be a literal translator. What he could do, as no other could, is to identify the essence, pick out "what matters now," and phrase it so pungently, so beautifully, that it will stick in the head and "make it new."

30 review for Confucius: The Great Digest, The Unwobbling Pivot, The Analects

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I have many translations. Pound is idiosyncratic, for sure, but he's the one I keep coming back to. I trust his ear. I have many translations. Pound is idiosyncratic, for sure, but he's the one I keep coming back to. I trust his ear.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Saettare

    The great misunderstood modernist poet leads us through the Stone Classics (The Great Digest, The Analects, The Unwobbling Pivot). He beautifully breaks down some of the key ideograms in the manner of an imagist poet. Though I suspect that Pound's presence can be felt – as is the case with everything this mad genius passed through his often less than diaphanous filter. It is, nevertheless, social and civic thought that meets the familial and spiritual. Many words of wisdom to contemplate, to liv The great misunderstood modernist poet leads us through the Stone Classics (The Great Digest, The Analects, The Unwobbling Pivot). He beautifully breaks down some of the key ideograms in the manner of an imagist poet. Though I suspect that Pound's presence can be felt – as is the case with everything this mad genius passed through his often less than diaphanous filter. It is, nevertheless, social and civic thought that meets the familial and spiritual. Many words of wisdom to contemplate, to live a life by both privately and in the public eye. "Virtue, i.e., this self-knowledge [looking straight into the heart and acting thence] is the root; wealth is the byproduct." "The man in whom speaks the voice of his forebears cuts no log that he does not make fit to be roof-tree [does nothing that he does not bring to a maximum, that he does not carry through to a finish]." "The man of real breeding who carries the cultural and moral heritage must look the heart in the eye when alone." "You improve the old homestead by material riches and irrigation; you enrich and irrigate the character by the process of looking straight into the heart and then acting on the results. Thus the mind becomes your palace and the body can be at ease; it is for this reason that the great gentleman must find the precise verbal expression [the sun's lance coming to rest on the precise spot verbally] for inarticulate thoughts [tones given off by the heart]." "Know the point of rest and then have an orderly mode of procedure; having this orderly mode of procedure one can 'grasp the azure,' that is, take hold of a clear concept; holding a clear concept one can be at peace [internally], being thus calm one can keep one's head in moments of danger; he who can keep his head in the presence of a tiger is qualified to come to his deed in due hour." "If a man does not discipline himself he cannot bring order into the home." "What is meant by saying, 'To govern a state one must first bring order into one's family,' is this: the man who, being incapable of educating his own family, is able to educate other men doesn't exist. On which account, the real man perfects the nation's culture without leaving his fireside." "Put order in the home in order to govern the country."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alec Sieber

    Probably only really valuable for people who are really into Pound. If you want to actually read Confucius, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these translations (especially the sketchy, unfinished translation of the Analects). Probably only really valuable for people who are really into Pound. If you want to actually read Confucius, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of these translations (especially the sketchy, unfinished translation of the Analects).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Harry

    Still studying... Confucius told me to not stop reading it even after I'm finished. Still studying... Confucius told me to not stop reading it even after I'm finished.

  5. 4 out of 5

    oswald

    Great translation; despite not being a scholar of the language Pound does investigate the meanings beyond what past literal translators have taken, and seemingly outdoes them on several points. It also seems that Pound is right about the proper ordering and significance of these texts: The Analects are the most widely read nowadays, probably because they contain most authentically the words of Confucius, but properly the Digest and The Unwobbling Pivot contain the actual heart of the thought of Great translation; despite not being a scholar of the language Pound does investigate the meanings beyond what past literal translators have taken, and seemingly outdoes them on several points. It also seems that Pound is right about the proper ordering and significance of these texts: The Analects are the most widely read nowadays, probably because they contain most authentically the words of Confucius, but properly the Digest and The Unwobbling Pivot contain the actual heart of the thought of Confucius, so should be read first, and more closely studied. Certainly a very literary philosopher -- if Pound is right that he compiled the Odes "to keep his followers from abstract discussion," quite the opposite of Plato -- and a source of legitimacy for Pound's own propensities (Analects 15.40 - "Problem of style? Get the meaning across and then STOP."). To me the only shortcoming was Pound's insistence that this mentality is directly and objectively superior to the confused jumble of Occidental philosophies. Many of the ideas in this book (for example, that "the small man takes risks") it seems our "great men" wouldn't cotton to, even if China's "proper" ones did.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Laconic Pound--cachectic wisdom. Better this than the "China cantos." Though this makes of those a richer experience! [Pound is fair here--making sure to note at the foot of certain of the more bonepickish characters the interpretations alternately of Legge and Pauthier, sometimes both.] Laconic Pound--cachectic wisdom. Better this than the "China cantos." Though this makes of those a richer experience! [Pound is fair here--making sure to note at the foot of certain of the more bonepickish characters the interpretations alternately of Legge and Pauthier, sometimes both.]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Al Maki

    When I first read it I thought it was a profound into Chinese thought but since then I have learned that Pound's interpretation of Confucius contains a great deal more of Pound than it does of Confucius. I think it's probably best to regard this in the same light as Robert Lowell's imitations. When I first read it I thought it was a profound into Chinese thought but since then I have learned that Pound's interpretation of Confucius contains a great deal more of Pound than it does of Confucius. I think it's probably best to regard this in the same light as Robert Lowell's imitations.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mikael

    any pound is great but i think confucius was the hitler to taos gandhi. this cd be what pushed him over to il duce love. i alternately have digestive problem or feel a bit wobbly after reading this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    2.5 repetitive... strange translations at times. but interesting! mostly...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

    Slow going. Important, though, if you're reading thru the Cantos Slow going. Important, though, if you're reading thru the Cantos

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Indeed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J.J. Hourani

  13. 5 out of 5

    jt

  14. 5 out of 5

    James

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brad

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Lin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cory

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fred Sampson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susanna

  20. 5 out of 5

    Will

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hawke

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lee Vazquez

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bodien

  25. 4 out of 5

    SENEM

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Josh Flechtner

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gilbert

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aparna

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Holland

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