Garden of Eloquence / Shuoyuan說苑
Classics of Chinese Thought
Published by: University of Washington Press
1360 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
- ISBN: 9780295995199
- Published: January 2022
In 17 BCE the Han dynasty archivist Liu Xiang presented to the throne a collection of some seven hundred items of varying length, mostly quasi-historical anecdotes and narratives, that he deemed essential reading for wise leadership. Garden of Eloquence (Shuoyuan), divided into twenty books grouped by theme, follows a tradition of narrative writing on historical and philosophical themes that began seven centuries earlier. Long popular in China as a source of allusions and quotations, it preserves late Western Han views concerning history, politics, and ethics. Many of its anecdotes are attributed to Confucius’s speeches and teachings that do not appear in earlier texts, demonstrating that long after Confucius’s death in 479 BCE it was still possible for new “historical” narratives to be created.
Garden of Eloquence is valuable as a repository of items that originally appeared in other early collections that are no longer extant, and it provides detail on topics as various as astronomy and astrology, yin-yang theory, and quasi-geographical and mystical categories. Eric Henry’s unabridged translation with facing Chinese text and extensive annotation will make this important primary source available for the first time to Anglophone world historians.