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  • A Companion to Angus C. Graham's Chuang Tzu
  • Paul Kjellberg (bio)
Harold D. Roth , editor. A Companion to Angus C. Graham's Chuang Tzu. Monograph of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, no. 20. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2003. x, 24. pp. Paperback $18.00, ISBN 0-8248-2643-4.

Harold Roth's Companion to Angus C. Graham's Chuang Tzu, with a preface by Henry Rosemont, Jr., is a book for which scholars of Zhuangzi have waited a long time. During his lifetime, Graham was one of the most influential interpreters of Zhuangzi in any language. And since his death in 1991, studies of Zhuangzi in the English-speaking world have focused on analyses and amplifications of Graham's work. This book brings together five important essays. Two of them—"Chuang Tzu's 'Essay on Seeing All Things as Equal'" and "How Much of Chuang Tzu did Chuang Tzu Write?"—though originally published separately, were anthologized together previously in Graham's Studies in Early Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature (Singapore: Institute for East Asian Philosophies, 1986; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990). "Taoist Spontaneity and the Dichotomy of 'Is' and 'Ought'" was part of Victor Mair's famous Experimental Essays on Chuang Tzu (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1983). In contrast to all three of these, Chuang Tzu: Textual Notes to a Partial Translation, published as a manuscript by the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1982, has been very hard to find, existing largely in third-generation photocopies handed down from professors to graduate students like treasured family jewels. "Two Notes on the Translation of Taoist Classics" was cobbled together out of two previously unpublished essays for Interpreting Chinese Culture Through Translation: A Festschrift for D. C. Lau, edited by Ames, Chan, and Ng (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1991), but has not received as much attention as it deserves, a misfortune that its presence [End Page 222] in this volume will rectify. Editor Roth appends a colophon situating these works in the constellation of Graham's scholarship on the original Zhuangzi and exploring for further study questions about how the text reached the form that was handed down to us.

The essays in this volume are technical, presupposing not only a background in Chinese philosophy but also a sophisticated grasp of early Chinese language and grammar. So this is not a book for the layperson. Several of the essays were easily available before; the chief virtue of this volume is to bring them together in one convenient place. Since these are already familiar, I will not spend much time reviewing them here but will focus instead on the newer items made widely available in this volume for the first time.

"Taoist Spontaneity and the Dichotomy of 'Is' and 'Ought'" presents its author's central insight in a nutshell, as does another essay in Mair's Experimental Essays on Chuang Tzu, "A Tao of Taos in Chuang Tzu" by Chad Hansen. Of course, in his subsequent work Graham developed and refined the arguments presented here, but the effect is always a greater appreciation of the points made so well in this central essay. Rarely does an academic provide such an admirable snapshot of his own thought.

"Chuang Tzu's 'Essay on Seeing All Things as Equal'" provides the most fleshed-out account available of the thinking behind Graham's proposed distinction between wei-shi, "the 'that's it' that deems," and yin-shi, "the 'that's it' that goes by circumstance." Cumbersome as these locutions are in English, no one who has worked through them ever reads the Inner Chapters the same way. One of the fascinating things about re-reading this essay is that one is reminded of a time when Graham's interpretation, or something very much like it, was not taken for granted.

"How Much of Chuang Tzu did Chuang Tzu Write?" presents the evidence in support of the different authors Graham identifies behind the received text and his preliminary efforts at dating them. While there is certainly room to quibble about individual points, the breadth and rigor of Graham's scholarship here and his...


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