The Analects

Introduction by Sarah Allan

Author Confucius
Introduction by Sarah Allan
Translated by Arthur Waley
Confucius has become synonymous in the West with Eastern wisdom: profound and mysterious. He was, however, one of the most humane, lucid, and rational moral teachers of the ancient world, concerned not with arcane metaphysics or invisible gods but with the practical issues of life and conduct. How should the state be organized? What makes a good ruler? What is virtue? What is the proper relationship between man and nature? Above all, how should individuals behave with one another and toward their environment?
Confucius addressed all these questions in dialogues, stories, and anecdotes gathered together as The Analects, which offers not lofty moral prescriptions but sensible advice based on principles of justice and moderation. So timeless was his thinking that even now, after two and a half thousand years, The Analects remains one of the most influential texts ever written.
from Book IV

1  The Master said, It is Goodness that gives to a neighborhood its beauty. One who is free to choose, yet does not prefer to dwell among the Good–how can he be accorded the name of wise?

2  The Master said, Without Goodness a man
Cannot for long endure adversity,
Cannot for long enjoy prosperity.
The Good Man rests content with Goodness; he that is merely wise pursues Goodness in the belief that it pays to do so.

3,4  Of the adage “Only a Good Man knows how to like people, knows how to dislike them,” the Master said, He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon Goodness will dislike no one.

5  Wealth and rank are what every man desires; but if they can only be retained to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must relinquish them. Poverty and obscurity are what every man detests; but if they can only be avoided to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must accept them. The gentleman who ever parts company with Goodness does not fulfill that name. Never for a moment does a gentleman quit the way of Goodness. He is never so harried but that he cleaves to this; never so tottering but that he cleaves to this.
Confucius [551-479 BC], though of noble descent, was born in humble circumstances. He believed that politics is only an extension of morals, and spent ten years travelling through the various states of China spreading his ideas. When he realised that there was no way of converting the feudal rulers to his way of thinking he returned to Lu and spent the rest of his life there teaching his pupils. D.C Lau has held a number of professorships in the field of Chinese language and literature. View titles by Confucius

About

Confucius has become synonymous in the West with Eastern wisdom: profound and mysterious. He was, however, one of the most humane, lucid, and rational moral teachers of the ancient world, concerned not with arcane metaphysics or invisible gods but with the practical issues of life and conduct. How should the state be organized? What makes a good ruler? What is virtue? What is the proper relationship between man and nature? Above all, how should individuals behave with one another and toward their environment?
Confucius addressed all these questions in dialogues, stories, and anecdotes gathered together as The Analects, which offers not lofty moral prescriptions but sensible advice based on principles of justice and moderation. So timeless was his thinking that even now, after two and a half thousand years, The Analects remains one of the most influential texts ever written.

Excerpt

from Book IV

1  The Master said, It is Goodness that gives to a neighborhood its beauty. One who is free to choose, yet does not prefer to dwell among the Good–how can he be accorded the name of wise?

2  The Master said, Without Goodness a man
Cannot for long endure adversity,
Cannot for long enjoy prosperity.
The Good Man rests content with Goodness; he that is merely wise pursues Goodness in the belief that it pays to do so.

3,4  Of the adage “Only a Good Man knows how to like people, knows how to dislike them,” the Master said, He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon Goodness will dislike no one.

5  Wealth and rank are what every man desires; but if they can only be retained to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must relinquish them. Poverty and obscurity are what every man detests; but if they can only be avoided to the detriment of the Way he professes, he must accept them. The gentleman who ever parts company with Goodness does not fulfill that name. Never for a moment does a gentleman quit the way of Goodness. He is never so harried but that he cleaves to this; never so tottering but that he cleaves to this.

Author

Confucius [551-479 BC], though of noble descent, was born in humble circumstances. He believed that politics is only an extension of morals, and spent ten years travelling through the various states of China spreading his ideas. When he realised that there was no way of converting the feudal rulers to his way of thinking he returned to Lu and spent the rest of his life there teaching his pupils. D.C Lau has held a number of professorships in the field of Chinese language and literature. View titles by Confucius

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