Kniha vrchních písařů
[Records of the Grand Historian]
hardcover, 648 pp., 1. edition
published: november 2012
recommended price: 248 czk
Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) is an essential work of Chinese historiography. It covers the history of China from its mythical outset through the stabilization of the unified empire during the reign of Emperor Chan of the Wu dynasty between 140-87 BC, creating a picture of the Chinese civilization which up to today has determined the way the Chinese view their own past. Through the recorded events and personal notes, their author Sima Qian (ca. 145-86 BC) reflects on the questions of the course of history, higher justice as well as how a man should make the right decisions in difficult situations.
The presented Czech translation is the fourth translation into a European language of comparable extent and complexity of approach and the richness of its accompanying apparatus. It contains approximately one fourth of the monumental piece of work and through the selection and order of chapters, it strives to demonstrate the unique composition of the Chinese historic work, which reflects the ideas of the hierarchically organized world of that period. It also contains the best known ancient Chinese stories, many of which became popular and to today have served as models for literary and film adaptations.
The translator followed up the work by the outstanding Czech Sinologist, Timoteus Pokora (1928-1985) including four of his translations, preserved as manuscripts, in the selection. The translation is accompanied by notes and detailed commentaries which should present the view of a Chinese reader formed by a different tradition and philosophical background. The book thus also becomes an example of a traditional Chinese approach to text, to the study of history and to the world. The opening extensive essay on the beginnings of the Chinese historiography follows up on the most recent research in Chinese studies and for the first time ever introduces them to the Czech environment. The book also includes indexes, maps and period appendixes.