...life can be translucent


Liu Dajun, 'An Introduction to the Zhou yi (Book of Changes)'




This is a translation of Liu Dajun's 周易概论. I have the Chinese original and I wonder why this book has been chosen to be translated to English. Even the revised edition, published in 2016 (but with a foreword By Liu from 2008?) appears a bit outdated because it does not discuss the latest (and exciting) archaeological findings. It does have interesting chapters, touches on important topics (I like the chapters on guaqi 卦氣, but do we need another book that discusses the examples from the Guoyu and Zuozhuan?)

The chapters where he explains certain lines from the Zhouyi add nothing to the wealth of research that has already been done by Richard Rutt, Dennis Schilling and Stephen Field, to name but a few. And I could go on.

Even more, there is something in it that I find...disturbing. I was reading the part about the earliest appearance of the Houtian Bagua and the Guaqi theory (《更早的后天八卦与“卦气”说资料》 on p. 234 of my Chinese edition). He mentions the famous 'Four Winds' plastron & scapula, and postulates the hypothesis that it is the earliest description of the Houtian Bagua. The several exclamation marks in this chapter make it appear that he thinks he made a huge discovery. However, what he describes, including specific readings of the characters on the bones, has already been mentioned by Lian Shaoming 連劭名 in 1988, in Wenwu 文物 1988.11, p. 40-44 ("商代的四方風名與八卦"), as mentioned by David N. Keightley in The Ancestral Landscape, p. 71, footnote 45. The chapter in which Liu describes this in his book is not found in the original edition of 1983. I assume it has been added in 2004 or later. I find it hard to believe that Liu was not aware of Lian Shaoming's article, as it was published in a journal Liu no doubt had access to. Yet he does not mention it. Throughout his book Liu does not seem to mention research by colleagues at all. He does mention some titles of books but he does not give credit to other scholars.

Some months ago I found this webpage where Liu is accused of plagiarism: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4aad6d0f0102y6w7.html

Apart from these disturbing findings a friend who read the page proof of the English translation before publishing said it "is flawed in many ways (mainly poor English and some faulty transliterations)".

It's also ridiculously expensive.

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