Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China: Selections of the History by Pan Ku

Courtier and Commoner in Ancient China: Selections of the History by Pan Ku

Paperback Translations from the Asian Classics

Translated by Burton Watson

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 282 pages
  • Dimensions: 148mm x 224mm x 18mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 1 June 1977
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231083548
  • ISBN 13: 9780231083546
  • Illustrations note: Ill.

Product description

Pan Ku's celebrated and influential History of the Former Han has been a model for dynastic history since its appearance in the first century A.D. The narrative is rich in detail and characterized by purity and economy of style. Covering the period from 206 B.C. to A.D. 23, the work consists of annals, chronological tables, treatises, and biographies, the last of which often include excepts from writings by the subjects of the biographies. Burton Watson has translated ten chapters from the biography section, including the lives of imperial princes, generals, officials, and some lesser figures: a court jester, wandering knights, court ladies, and concubines. All the chapters have been selected for their literary interest and their influence on Chinese literature and culture.

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Author information

Burton Watson is one of the world's best-known translators from the Chinese and Japanese. His translations include The Lotus Sutra, The Vimalakirti Sutra, Ryokan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home, and The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, all published by Columbia.

Review quote

"The reader of this admirable translation will be able to appreciate why the "History of the Former Han," a great work of literature as well as of history, is, for the Chinese, what the work of Thucydides is for the Western world." -- "Times Literary Supplement"