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Classical Chinese : A Basic Reader in Three Volumes (Paperback)

Classical Chinese : A Basic Reader in Three Volumes (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Naiying Yuan, Haitao Tang, James Geiss
Format: paperback
Emphasis: Classical Chinese
Level: Advanced
List Price: $45

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Editorial Reviews
Catherine Swatek, University of British Columbia : Without question a significant contribution to the field. There is no textbook of this kind available. It provides the student with a comprehensive grammar of classical Chinese with clear and readable explanations in both English and modern Chinese. By fully utilizing both languages in one text, the authors of this Reader have created a teaching tool that will have wide appeal and applicability. The translations are accurate and felicitous.
Kimberly Besio, Colby College : This Reader addresses a huge gap in Chinese language textbook offerings--that is, a basic introduction to Classical Chinese. It is far superior to previous such works: the texts reflect a more logical progression from simple structures to more complex ones, and the grammatical explanations are more structured and more detailed. The book also does an excellent job of reinforcing past patterns, and further serves as an introduction to Chinese culture and literature.

Book Description

Classical Chinese: A Basic Reader is the most comprehensive and authoritative textbook on the language, literature, philosophy, history, and religion of premodern China. Rigorously and extensively field-tested and fine-tuned for years in classroom settings by three members of the Chinese Linguistics Project at Princeton University, it sets a new standard for the field.

Volume 1 contains 40 selections from texts written between the fifth century B.C. and the first century A.D., during which the classical Chinese language was fully developed and standardized. These passages, which express key themes in Chinese humor, wit, wisdom, moral conviction, and political ideals, are arranged in the order of complexity of the grammatical patterns they exemplify. Uniquely, each text is translated into both modern Chinese and English. Volume 2 contains a detailed glossary of unfamiliar terms and names found in Volume 1, and Volume 3 features detailed grammatical analyses, in which every sentence in the main texts is fully diagrammed to show the grammatical relations between their various parts.

Four supplementary volumes--an introduction to grammar, readings in poetry and prose, selected historical texts, and selected philosophical texts--will also be available for use in conjunction with the main, three-volume set. There are corresponding exercises for all the reading texts in the Basic Reader and in the supplementary volumes to review and reinforce classroom learning.

With Classical Chinese: A Basic Reader, Naiying Yuan, Haitao Tang, and James Geiss provide the definitive new resource for students and instructors of classical Chinese language or culture, one whose impact will be lasting.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0691118310
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.1 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 4 reviews.

Customer Reviews

Good introduction, not advanced enough, February 8, 2006
Reviewer: Jenny Durelin (Boston, MA)

I used this book in preparation to jump into a more advanced classical Chinese class, and though the explanations it had were very useful (and I must add I am near-fluent in modern Mandarin, so it appealed in that way to me because it helped me understand things in both languages, giving me a backup in case one explanation wasn't thurough enough), I felt that even though I had gone through about 30 chapters, when I went into the other class I felt I had not really been given a challenging set of works to learn from. If you are looking for a simple approach, I would reccomend this book, if you are looking for an ambitious approach, I might look elsewhere.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Introduction to Wenyan, July 31, 2005

Reviewer: Per Strmdahl (Gothenburg, Sweden)

I've never seen such a detailed analysis of senteces and structures in any book teaching grammar, which makes it very suitable for a self-learner of this mesmerizing language like myself. Inluded in the glossaries are both english and modern chinese translations, which makes it useful for comparing the classic and modern written language. But there are a couple of problems with this book, including the numerous typos in english, and worse, in the pinyin transcriptions; the bad printing, especially the fonts. The map over ancient map of China is incomprehensible. The glossaries are not totally complete (though if you have a basic understanding of modern chinese this will be no problem); a worse problem is that there's no index to the characters.

All in all, despite its flaws, I would warmly recommend this series.

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:

Great book, bad proofreading, December 14, 2004

Reviewer: Christopher J. Gait (Nokesville, VA USA)

I'm a self-taught student of Classical Chinese (yes, I know that isn't really possible, but I'm doing it anyway ), so this book is a very important resource. What I would hope to see in the second edition is:

1. An index listing of all glossary items in the back of the glossaries volume organized by four-corner lookup order (sijiao) and with Pinyin and Radical indexes.

2. Answers to selected exercises for self-taught students like myself.

3. Less reliance on Modern Chinese. I know it's traditional to study Mandarin first, then move on to Classical, but some oddballs like me are interested in the Classics only, and not modern speech and literature.

4. Princeton is a big university, hire a proofreader. The text is full of glaring typos in English. I'm not qualified to find typos in the Chinese, but even there I've found editing errors.

Even with all these minor flaws, this is an important and valuable book, which is why I gave it five stars, warts and all.


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