OldDog

Question: Sweeping Leaves Lodge

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This morning I was reading Chuangtse and it occured to me that this might be the best place to ask about something that has nagged me for years. 

 

My favorite translator of Laotse and Chungtse is Lin Yutang. In his writings, he mentions that his translation of Chuangtse is taken from the Sweeping Leaves Lodge version of Chuangtse. I have never heard of this version, no other reference anywhere I have encountered, probably because it is a relatively obscure or untranslated text. It sounds strangely Buddhist.  

 

Has anyone else heard of the Sweeping Leaves Lodge version of Chuangtse and can you provide any background on the text?

 

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On 25/07/2018 at 12:58 AM, OldDog said:

My favorite translator of Laotse and Chungtse is Lin Yutang. In his writings, he mentions that his translation of Chuangtse is taken from the Sweeping Leaves Lodge version of Chuangtse.

 

I’ve not heard of the Sweeping Leaves version. I like the name though. It sounds Daoist to me.  Out of interest I did a web search and found this about the basis of Lin Yutang's translation of the Zhuangzi....

 

I have based my translation on that of Herbert A. Giles. It soon became apparent in my work that Giles was free in his translation where exactness was easy and possible, and that he had a glib, colloquial style which might be considered a blemish. The result is that hardly a line has been left untouched, and I have had to make my own translation, taking advantage of whatever is good in his English rendering. But still I owe a great debt to my predecessor, and he has notably succeeded in this difficult task in many passages. Where his rendering is good, I have not chosen to be different. In this sense, the translation may be regarded as my own.

 

It should be noted that throughout the text, Giles translates "Heaven" as "God" where it means God. On the other hand, the term "Creator" is an exact rendering of chao-wu, or "he who creates things." I will not go into details of translation of other philosophic terms here.

 

(From The Chuang Tzu translated by Yutang Lin https://terebess.hu/english/chuang.html )

 

What do you think of his translation of “Heaven” as “God”?

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5 hours ago, Yueya said:

What do you think of his translation of “Heaven” as “God”?

 

Well, I find it interesting ... not unexpected ... but interesting. I have long known that Lin Yutang's personal experience was one of Christian upbringing ... turning to Taoism ... then returning to Christianity. (Not very well stated, I know) He even wrote a book titled Pagan to Christian about his issues of faith (Uh-oh, there's that word again) which I will read at some point, when I feel the time is right.

 

So, I accept the interpretation of Heaven as God because I understand how it happens. It's not a point that needs to be belabored. Many/most western translators work has these inadvertent appropriations scattered throughout; e.g. Wilhelm/Baynes' I Ching and Wilhelm/Wilhelm's Understanding the I Ching . Can't be helped. It would only become questionable if it were done with some ulterior motive or intent.

 

How do you feel about it?

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On 7/24/2018 at 6:58 PM, OldDog said:

Has anyone else heard of the Sweeping Leaves Lodge version of Chuangtse and can you provide any background on the text?

Sweeping Leaves Lodge 扫叶山房 is not a unique edition of ZZ but rather a publishing house prominent in 1900 in China. Some context of it here

 Lin/Rea

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6 hours ago, Taoist Texts said:

Sweeping Leaves Lodge 扫叶山房 is not a unique edition of ZZ but rather a publishing house prominent in 1900 in China.

 

OK, that makes a lot of sense.

 

In reviewing what you provided, it seems that the Mountain Lodge of Swept Leaves (publishing house) was known for producing inexpensive printings of classics, thus making them more accessible to the general public.

 

Thank you. Answers a question I have had for a long time. Incidentally, light was also shed on Lin Yutang's role in the humorist movement in chinese literature in early 20th century.

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15 hours ago, Yueya said:

What do you think of his translation of “Heaven” as “God”?

 

Maybe the translation isn't correct here, but it's interesting to me that (I've read) Tian was actually the supreme god in ancient China.


"During the Shang Dynasty (17–11th centuries BCE), the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì (上帝, "Lord on High") or Dì (帝,"Lord"). During the following Zhou Dynasty, Tiān became synonymous with this figure." - wikipedia

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15 minutes ago, Aetherous said:

... the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì ...

 

I had always taken that figuratively rather than specifically. Though it would make sense. Many/most primative attempts at explaining the world seem to result in the notion of an anthropomorphic supreme deity. 

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47 minutes ago, OldDog said:

Mountain Lodge of Swept Leaves (publishing house) was known for producing inexpensive printings of classics

oh yes, it is famous enough with 340 years of history to merit its own wiki page https://baike.baidu.com/item/扫叶山房 

One of Lin's lasting legacies is his digitized dictionary http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Lindict/

 

17 minutes ago, OldDog said:

notion of an anthropomorphic supreme deity. 

character for Heaven used to be anthro

http://hanziyuan.net/#天

 

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Posted (edited)

Truly, Taoist Texts literal explanation aside, the version of the Zhuangzi we now have could well be described as ‘The Swept Leaves’ version, or even ‘The Swept Path’ version. The original, now lost, 52 chapter version was radically edited by Guo Xiang around the year 300 CE.....

 

His edition soon became the standard version and has survived to the present day. Most enlightening, Guo Xiang also wrote a postscript to explain the revisions he undertook. This postscript is still extant in the Kozanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Here Guo Xiang says that he found Zhuangzi's work full of strange ideas, daring metaphors, and lofty expressions. To make his meaning clear to the uninitiated, he found it necessary to revise the text radically. A certain number of chapters—altogether about one-third of the old manuscript—were excluded completely. "Some of them," he states, "were similar to the Shanhai jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), others resembled the manuals used by dream interpreters. Some came from the Huainanzi, others again belonged to works dealing with speculations about names and reality."

 

The text seems to have been widely varied, containing profound and shallow parts side by side. Guo Xiang says he found it hard to make sense of the work as a whole, but tried his best to include as much as possible in the coherent philosophical system he outlines in his commentary. As he has it, "I contented myself with summarizing all and refrained from inquiring into its logic. I reduced the text to thirty-three chapters, selecting its best and most complete parts, those which could reasonably be made into one whole." 

 

Guo Xiang therefore thoroughly reorganized the Zhuangzi. He eliminated folkloristic parts and shortened the manuscript, as he himself admits; from later citations it is evident that he also rearranged the text and removed those sections he considered merely explanatory to his commentary. Guo Xiang did thus not hesitate to impose his personal understanding and philosophical preferences on the text. The ancient original Zhuangzi was lost and ever since the fourth century it has been received through Guo Xiang's eyes. His philosophical systematization had a tremendous impact on the later tradition. Once his views were found agreeable to Chinese literati, his interpretation was accepted as the correct standard and all variants gradually vanished in the mist of history.

 

(From Livia Kohn, Early Chinese Mysticism.)

Edited by Yueya
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1 hour ago, Yueya said:

... the version of the Zhuangzi we now have could well be described as ‘The Swept Leaves’ version, or even ‘The Swept Path’ version. The original, now lost, 52 chapter version was radically edited by Guo Xiang around the year 300 CE.....

 

I'm a little confused at this point ... not sure how to take this. Are you appropriating the the phrase "Swept Leaves" to desribe the result of Guo Xiang's revision of a now lost manuscript ... and citing Livia Kohn's explanation?

 

That's remarkable. 

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, OldDog said:

 

Are you appropriating the the phrase "Swept Leaves" to desribe the result of Guo Xiang's revision of a now lost manuscript ... and citing Livia Kohn's explanation? 

 

Yes. But I’d say using the metaphor, not appropriating it as if is someone else’s exclusive property.  I very much like it as an image of what us humans do with our attempts at tidying up concepts. I’m baffled as to why you find this so remarkable. 

 

(Note: I’m not saying I think this is wholly a good thing. Often I like to observe the leaves as they’ve naturally fallen. I’d certainly like to read the original Zhuangzi, especially as it apparently contained much mythical content.)   
 

Edited by Yueya

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4 hours ago, Yueya said:

I’d say using the metaphor, not appropriating it

 

No offense intended. Was just getting used to the notion of Sweeping Leaves in reference to a publishing house. Guess I was expecting something a little less mundane. Not expecting anyone to take up the phrase as a metaphor ... but it fits nicely.

 

4 hours ago, Yueya said:

I’m baffled as to why you find this so remarkable. 

 

Well, it seems to fit with my developing sense of early daoist writings ... especially Laozi and Zhuangzi. It seems that there are those that suggest that those works may have been compilations from more than one contributor. I have always been somewhat irritated by those comments ... thinking of those that hold those views as detractors, in that it seems to draw focus away from the content and somehow deminish the signiificance. Still, it is hard to argue the analysis and reasoning behind the comments, which seems to be largely based on style and structure of the writing. On the other hand,, some of the material I have been reading lately shows that there was a much broader tradition at work as evidenced by writings difinitively attributed to other writers and earlier periods where the language is strikingly similar to Laozi. So, now to read the passage provided from Livia Kohn's work ... well, that seemed remarkable. The source material is so old, why wouldn't it be resonable for someone (Guo Xiang) to edit and reinterpret an ancient text.

 

All of this shows that I have considerably more to learn and since I do not speak or read Chinese I have to rely on secondary sources, if you will.

 

At the same time, I do not want to go down a rabbit hole in search for the truth of who wrote the source material. The material points to a truth that is valid regardless of who actually wrote it. That is where proper focus belongs.

 

This thread has been an enjoyable exercise for me. 

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15 hours ago, OldDog said:

No offense intended. Was just getting used to the notion of Sweeping Leaves in reference to a publishing house. Guess I was expecting something a little less mundane. Not expecting anyone to take up the phrase as a metaphor ... but it fits nicely.

 

Thank you for the clarification. I did read that reply as coming from a place of great indignation and I was mystified as to why. 

 

Like your previous question about how I felt about Lin Yutang’s translation of Tian as God rather than the more usual Heaven, my thoughts in response to the rest of your comments are too varied, too paradoxical and too nebulous to present in any straightforward, coherent form. But I can simply say that I respect your sincerity and appreciate the deep learning apparent in your posts. You may gain some idea of where I’m coming from on the God question if you read this post in my PPD.   

 

I know from a previous post of yours that you like Dan Reid’s The Thread of Dao. I like it too. I acquired it near the end on my own chapter by chapter meditation on the Neiye in my PPD.  When I first joined Dao Bums a few years ago I put much effort into discussing texts I found meaningful. But my focus has shifted more inwards since then. Hence my reticence with words....for now at least. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Yueya said:

I did read that reply as coming from a place of great indignation

 

You know, this is not the first time that has been pointed out. Marblehead pointed it out on a post I had with him. It must be in the manner I express myself. I don't always catch it but clearly I need to be more careful. Thanks.

 

1 hour ago, Yueya said:

... you like Dan Reid’s The Thread of Dao ...

 

Yes, Reid's The Thread of Dao and Pregadio's The Seal of The Unity of The Three have had a huge impact on me this last year. It is primarily from these two works that my sense of a broader daoism springs. I am a big believer that new and different understandings reveal themselves to you when you are ready, when the time is right. All part of the journey.

Edited by OldDog
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