The Analects by Confucius
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Confucius was a legendary philosopher and theorist of government. Contemporaneous with Sun Tzu, he was active in the sixth and fifth centries, BCE. Though he was largely ineffective during his own career, his approach to leadership as a highly conservative morality and study of the classics has influenced bureaucratic rule in China to this day.
The Analects, literally Edited Conversations, is a collection of aphorisms and brief conversations attributed to Confucius, but most likely not written during his lifetime. The standard translations of this work are usually stuffed with additional commentary, and difficult to follow. This new modern edition includes the clearest aphorisms and a new introductory essay.
Emerging several millennia ago, Confucius' *Analects* are aphorisms and short dialogues between Confucius and other masters and students. Some of these are historical figures, while regarding others there is ambiguity, and many recede, like Confucius, into legendary status. Regardless of historical authorship, the work has exerted a profound effect on the political history of China. However, reading the work is not straightforward. There are many repetitions, a large number of commentaries, and not a few contradictions.
Confucius' Analects, like many ancient classics, is a fragmented work. While divided into 20 *boks*, most books are a collection of aphorisms, short conversations, and quotations, many of which have little in the way of modern organization into themes.
This new modern edition has made a lot of improvements in accessibility, however, wholesale reorganization of the work into a different set of chapters has not been attempted. When reading *Analects*, there is still some repetition in different parts of the work, though this is generally kept to the level of refreshing reminders rather than tedious duplication.
The new introductory essay is meant to help orient those who are faced with a *forest of aphorisms* which much of Confucius' Analects tends to become. There is great effort needed on the part of the reader. Our new edition is meant to better organize and winnow the number down to a reasonable amount which are nonetheless representative and paradigmatic of the work in general. This makes this important text more accessible and readable.