CONFUCIUS: The Great Digest et al by Ezra.--Ed. Pound

CONFUCIUS: The Great Digest et al

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I admire Confucius,"" said Voltaire. ""He was the first man who did not receive a divine inspiration."" Perhaps that explains why, unlike Christ and Buddha who began their missions at thirty, Confucius waited until he was fifty before begining ""the long trek"" from state to state, from market inspector to Prime Minister; why, also, Confucianism is the most mundane of religions, the most pragmatic in its precepts. For Confucius, ""if the root be in confusion, nothing will be well governed."" The root represented propriety: goodness of heart, government by virtue, the cultivation of character and the arts of peace. Confucius had the utmost respect for tradition, but he was commonsensical about the needs of the present and the future; indeed, his teachings, heightened by ritual, are nevertheless always tart (""He fished but not with a net; shot but not at sitting birds"") and pointed (""a country does not profit by making profits, its equity is its profit""). Ezra Pound, in a note to his popular translations of The Great Digest, The Unwobbling Pivot, and The Analects, all three brought together here in one edition, asks us to pay particular heed to the Master's seemingly simplistic doctrines since they contain the stuff of which stability and justice are made. He forgets, however, Confucius' failure as a politician; it was only after his death that the glorification began and his proverbs became de rigueur for officialdom. Pound's renderings, incidentally, have been disputed by scholars, but they've a craggy beauty all their own, like his verse.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1969
Publisher: New Directions