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Download PDF The Analects of Confucius TRANSLATED BY BURTON WATSON


Lunyu, or The Analects of Confucius, has probably exercised a greater influence on the history and culture of the Chinese people than any other work in the Chinese language. Not only has it shaped the thought and customs of China over many centuries, but it has played a key role in the development of other countries that were within the Chinese cultural sphere, such as Korea, Japan, and, later, Vietnam.
Readers encountering the text for the first time might wonder how this rather brief collection of aphorisms and historical anecdotes could have been so influential. The text, probably compiled in stages some time during the fourth century B.C.E., was at first only one of many philosophical works that embodied the teachings of this or that school of early Chinese thought. The followers of the teachings of Confucius were referred to collectively as the Ru school, which denotes persons who devote themselves to learning and the peaceful arts (as opposed to martial matters).
Some centuries later, when Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 B.C.E.) of the Han dynasty declared Confucianism the official doctrine of the state, the Analects and other texts associated with Confucius assumed enormous importance. They were regarded as repositories of knowledge of how the empire had been governed in the model eras of antiquity and how the Chinese government system, and society as a whole, should be ordered. In still later centuries, the Analects was treated as a beginning text in the study of classical Chinese, to be committed to memory and, when students were more advanced, studied exhaustively and with its lessons examined in depth.


  2. Book One
  3. Book Two
  4. Book Three
  5. Book Four
  6. Book Five
  7. Book Six
  8. Book Seven
  9. Book Eight
  10. Book Nine
  11. Book Ten
  12. Book Eleven
  13. Book Twelve
  14. Book Thirteen
  15. Book Fourteen
  16. Book Fifteen
  17. Book Sixteen
  18. Book Seventeen
  19. Book Eighteen
  20. Book Nineteen
  21. Book Twenty

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