Zhuangzi: Text and Context
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330pp. January 2013
Zhuangzi: Text and Context
Author: Kohn, Livia;
Winner of the 2014 CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Title

Zhuangzi: Text and Context is a comprehensive discussion of the ancient Daoist work Zhuangzi in 24 chapters, providing a chronologically-based outline of the context of the work, from the compilation of the text to its reading in 21st century ecology, plus a systematic discussion and interpretation of its central concepts from perfect happiness to playful uselessness. The book integrates a vast spectrum of original and secondary sources, examines the history and ideas in a wide context, both within China and cross-culturally, and relates many of Zhuangzi’s key notions and practices to modern science, notably physics, biology, and psychology. Encyclopedic in scope, meticulous in execution, and skillfully presented, it is a must for anyone interested in traditional Chinese thought.
The Zhuangzi is too much neglected in the study of Daoism, and there is as yet no complete commentary in English. Livia Kohn’s excellent study brings to an English readership a vast storehouse of comment and interpretation, based on robust scholarship from a wide variety of sources in many different languages. Zhuangzi: Text and Context skillfully, even masterfully, alternates between the text itself and the context for its teachings. Professor Kohn and Three Pines Press offer an indispensable secondary source on arguably the greatest and most formative anthology of Daoist insight from the classical period.—Ronnie Littlejohn, Belmont University

Zhuangzi: Text and Context brings extensive studies of the Zhuangzi into a refined work. It incorporates the Zhuangzi text as well as its commentaries and subcommentaries over two millennia, revealing the comprehensive intellectual and historical development of Zhuangzi’s thought and its role in the formation of Chinese culture. Besides in-depth discussions of the Zhuangzi in dialogue with Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, literature, and Chinese arts, the author takes a comparative approach to engage the text in dialogue with Western philosophers, psychologists, and environmentalists, making it relevant for us in the 21st century. The book is rich in content, inspiring in thought, and just a great joy to read.—Chen Xia, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

This new book is a wonderful contribution to Zhuangzi studies and truly makes Dr. Kohn’s love of the Zhuangzi manifest. I have never before seen such command of the literature. She not only explains the Zhuangzi and its reception through the centuries but also sums up in a readable manner the entire field of contemporary Zhuangzi studies. The book covers pretty much everything! To be savored page by page! —Eske Mollgaard, University of Rhode Island

Author: Kohn, Livia;
Livia Kohn is Professor Emerita of Religion and East Asian Studies at Boston University. She has written over 30 books, edits the Journal of Daoist Studies, and runs international conferences and workshops.



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