Experimental Essays on Chuang-Tzu

Experimental Essays on Chuang-Tzu

Experimental Essays on Chuang-Tzu

Experimental Essays on Chuang-Tzu

Excerpt

The purpose of this volume of essays is to introduce Chuang-tzu to a larger audience than he now enjoys. Currently, knowledge of the Chuangtzu in the West remains almost entirely restricted to sinologists and a few students of comparative religion. This is grossly unfortunate, especially in light of the fact that the Chuang-tzu is superior to many other Chinese works that have received much wider recognition and circulation abroad. The Chuang-tzu is profoundly entertaining and edifying at the same time. As imaginative literature, there is no other Chinese work that even remotely compares to it before the introduction of Buddhist narrative and dramatic traditions. The Chuang-tzu's use of language is exquisitely sui generis and has had a far-reaching effect on many types of belles-lettres in later periods. Chuang-tzu, furthermore, is honored as one of the founders of philosophical Taoism and is even considered by many to have had a formative influence on the development of Zen. Regardless of his significance for the past, however, Chuang-tzu still speaks to us today with an authentic voice of intelligence and good sense. The Chuang-tzu adumbrates an intellectual attitude that is both engaging and compelling.

Admittedly, the Chuang-tzu confronts us with monumental textual and authorial problems. Intellectual historians and stylistic analysts are only now beginning to attack seriously, systematically, and rigorously the difficult questions of which parts of the book belong together and which parts ought to be considered as interpolations, additions, and so on. The fact that apparently contradictory or seemingly incompatible positions emerge from the Chuang-tzu (such as whether there is one overarching . . .

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