The Book of Lieh-tzu: A Classic of the Tao

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Columbia University Press, 1990 - Philosophy - 192 pages
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This is an adaptation of the thirteenth-century zaju play Liu Yi Chuan Shu, which was itself based on an eighth-century fairy tale about a failed examination candidate's encounter with a shepherdess in distress who turns out to be the youngest daughter of the Dragon King of Lake Dongting. The young man's help is rewarded with riches, immortality and marriage to the beautiful princess. It is a wish-fulfillment fantasy written with charm and a certain ironical edge.

This adaptation consists of the freely-translated lyrics of the zaju with new, original dialogue, including an on-stage narrator. There is a long introduction with synopses of the Chinese text of the zaju and the original story it was based on. There is also an appendix explaining the use of "padding words" in zaju.


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Page 13 - ... the broad coincidence of Daoism with the modern scientific outlook in its insistence on the littleness of man in a vast universe; the inhuman Tao which all things follow, without purpose and indifferent to human needs: the transience of life; the impossibility of knowing what comes after death; the unending change in which the possibility of progress is not even conceived; the relativity of values; a fatalism close to determinism, even a suggestion that the human organism operates like a machine.
Page 7 - If nothing within you stays rigid, Outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like a mirror. Respond like an...

About the author (1990)

A.C. Graham is Professor Emeritus of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Among his many translations and writings are Chuang-tzu: the Seven Inner Chapters and Other Writings from the Book of Chuang-tzu and Reason and Spontaneity.

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