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May 4, 2012

"The Chinese Classics" by James Legge (Book introduction)

James Legge (1815 – 1897) was a Scottish Sinologist. He served as representative of the London Missionary Society in Malacca and Hong Kong (1840–1873), after which he became the first professor of Chinese at Oxford University (1876–1897).


Legge is in the first place known for his translations of the Chinese Classics. Although now dated and certainly not faultless (Chinese scholarship has progressed quite a bit), they are still quite readable, especially his versions of the Confucian Classics - as a protestant missionary he seems to have had some chemistry with conservative and staunch Confucianism (and none at all with Daoism).

Here are his translations of the Confucian Classics: The Analects, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean (Lunyu, Daxue and Zhongyong, Vol. 1), The Works of Mencius (Mengzi, Vol. 2), The Book of Historical Documents (Shu Jing, Vol. 3), The Book of Poetry (Shi Jing, Vol. 4) and The Spring and Autumn Annals with Tso Commentary (Chunqiu and Zuozhuan, Vol. 5).

Volume I, The Analects




Volume II (The Works of Mencius)



Volume III, Part 1 (Book of Documents)



Volume III, Part 2 (Book of Documents)



Volume IV Part 1 (The odes, Part 1)



Volume IV, Part 2 (The Odes, Part 2)



Volume V, Part 1 (Spring and Autumn Annals, Part 1)



Volume V, Part 2 (Spring and Autumn Annals, Part 2)