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526 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997© 1997 by University ofHawai'i Press Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-chün Lee Sawyer, translators and commentators . Ling Ch'i Ching: A Classic Chinese Oracle. Shambhala Dragon Editions . Boston and London: Shambhala, 1995. xvii, 294 pp. Paperback $16.00, isbn 1-57062-083-0. This text is the third major ancient Chinese divination system to be made available in a form suitable for consultation by readers of English. First came Cary F. Baynes' translation of Richard Wilhelm's German version of the Confucian classic Yijing (Book of changes), which has proved its mettle to me and thousands of other inquiring Western minds since its publication nearly a half-century ago. Although other translations of die Yijinghave preceded and followed Wilhelm/ Baynes, few besides Thomas Cleary's Taoist and Buddhist versions proved suitable for consultation. In 1994 came The Elemental Changes, a consultant's version, by Michael Nylan, of die scholarly edition of the Taixuanjing (The canon of supreme mystery), an oracle composed by the court poet Yang Xiung toward the end of the Former Han period, just before the first millennium c.e. Now comes this third system, the Lingqijing (Spiritual, or empowered, chess classic), which is almost unknown in the West. An anonymous author composed the Lingqijing's core text probably in the early Wei-Jin period (222-419 c.e.), though legends attribute it to earlier figures, in particular Dongfang Shuo, a palace retainer during the reign of Emperor Wu (140-86 b.c.e.) of the Han dynasty. Twentieth-century academics, both Eastern and Western, seem to have ignored it. Both the Lingqijing and Taixuanjingwere modeled on the Yijing. As the translators of the Lingqijing note in their introduction, its author "sought to present the literate world with a more accessible oracle than the arcane I Ching," one "clearly subsuming the / Ching s worldview and frequently echoing images and lines from it, but without presupposing any actual or detailed understanding of the I Ching." Each imitation contains features that distinguish it from the earlier classic. The Taixuanjing melds the main philosophical currents of its age in a poetic tour de force guaranteed to turn away idle inquiry. Its translator pointed out that Chinese readers have considered it "a true guide for those seeking the Way of the sages," and its English version retains a literatus aroma. The Lingqijing also waxes poetic, but its tone seems to be aimed toward a lower brow. Cotranslator Ralph Sawyer notes that he first discovered it in the 1970s "being profitably employed by a Tokyo street diviner." That event in Tokyo and similar experiences in Kyoto and Osaka marked the beginning of Sawyer's study of the Lingqijing, a study he continued and expanded with his wife, Mei-chün Lee, for more than twenty years. They did informal translations and provided consultations for several years, then began circulating their Reviews 527 version to friends for vetting. Eventually they "felt compelled to complete the translation and make it available so tiiat others might learn of another complex and intriguing work from the Chinese divination tradition." Their intent was "to make the work accessible to the widest possible audience." This book, then, is not a scholarly edition. It follows Shambhala's practice of turning a cold shoulder to scholars' pleas for citations, notes, explanations, and reference lists. The Sawyers are nevertheless more forthcoming than earlier Shambhala translators: they do reveal some of their Chinese sources. Still, their citations (they used "the Ssu-k'u Ch'üan-shu edition, although recourse has frequendy been made to the one preserved in the Tao Tsangas well as other important versions ") seem unnecessarily vague. They explain that since the texts "are all readily available to scholars and our choice of one or another phrase for purposes ofclarity and consistency in a small number ofcases is readily apparent, they have not been footnoted." I hoped to find references for several studies mentioned in the preface; but when I looked for a bibliography at the back of the book, what I found was a complete list of Shambhala Dragon Editions. In a note to the reader, the Sawyers...


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