Analects update: halfway there

Analects update

More by accident than design, I completed my overview of the first half of the Analects of Confucius just before my trip to the UK. I will start tackling the second half this weekend. In the meantime, here are links to materials covering the first ten books, including posts on each chapter and more general articles about certain topics.

Analects of Confucius Book 1
Analects of Confucius Book 2
Analects of Confucius Book 3
Analects of Confucius Book 4
Analects of Confucius Book 5
Analects of Confucius Book 6
Analects of Confucius Book 7
Analects of Confucius Book 8
Analects of Confucius Book 9
Analects of Confucius Book 10

Although I enjoyed Book 10, I still haven’t quite figured out what to make of it. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not even clear whether its chapters describe the behavior of Confucius himself or that of an archetypal gentleman. Nevertheless, its advocacy of the importance of ritual is as relevant today as it was in Confucius’s time. Essentially, it is telling you how to make the most of every moment in your life.

The best book I’ve read about the origins of ritual in ancient Chinese society is the brilliant “These Bones Shall Rise Again: Selected Writings on Early China” featuring a series of essays by the scholar David N. Keightley. It also provides the most compelling description of the differences between Chinese and Greek myths that I’ve seen. Even though it is an academic book, it makes for a fascinating and at times highly entertaining read.

For a highly original perspective on what Confucius meant when talking about ritual, I would recommend “Confucius: The Secular as Sacred (Religious Traditions of the World)” by Herbert Fingarette. I wouldn’t say that I fully agree with his thesis, but it certainly made me think a lot more deeply about the subject.

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