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SYMA TSYAN ISTORICHESKIE ZAPISKI ("SHI TSI") 1

Syma Tsyan, Istoricheskie Zapiski ("Shi Tsi") (Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Historical Records ("Shih Chi"). Translated from Chinese and commented on by R. V. VYATICIN and V. S. TASKIN Introductory article by M. V. KRIUKOV. Department of History, Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Written Records of the Orient, XXXII, 1 Volume I Pp 439 Moscow NAUKA PUBLISHING HOUSE. 1972 4,700 copies Roubles 1.74.

As a major monument of world historiography, Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Shih chi or Historical Records (China's first "universal" history, extending from the legendary beginnings to approximately 100 B.C.) has understandably stimulated great and continuing attention from Western as well as Chinese and Japanese scholars. The French translation of its first 52 chapters (out of 130) made around the beginning of this century by Edouard Chavannes, remains a masterpiece of Western Sinology. The much more recent (1961). English translation by Burton Watson covers more material (65 chapters) but less ground (only the early part of the Han dynasty, 206 — ca. 100 B.C.) and its excellence as a translation is, for the Specialist, unfavorably balanced by its paucity of footnotes and other scholarly apparatus.

Now, from members of the (Moscow) Institute of Oriental Studies, comes this first volume of an erudite and ongoing Russian version. Its format, typography and printing are adequate if not distinguished, Chinese characters are inserted wherever needed in footnotes, bibliography and indices, and the price and size of its edition should arouse the envy of scholars elsewhere.

The volume begins with a fifty-page introductory essay by Kriukov, describing Ssu-ma Ch'ien's life and historiography. Then comes Vyatkin's more specialized study of the Shih chi's first four chapters — those translated in this first volume — belonging to the division of the Shih chi known as pen chi or "basic annals" and covering political developments from legendary times to the end of the Chou dynasty (256 B.C.). The translation itself comes next (about 80 pages), and then a considerably longer section of notes on the translation (about 120 pages). The rest of the book consists of numerous appendices: bibliographies of works in Russian, in other Western languages, and in Chinese and Japanese; chronological tables of the rulers of the Yin and Chou dynasties; and indices separately covering proper names (Japanese and Western as well as Chinese), place names, ethnic names (tribes and clans), and [415] Chinese terms. At the very end comes a five-page summary description of the volume in English — very helpful for the non-Russian reader

The second and possibly the third volumes of this work are expected to appear during 1974. It would be very worthwhile for these successive volumes to be compared with their Chavannes and Watson counterparts, not only from the point of view of translation but also to judge the extent to which they succeed in building upon, and moving beyond, their predecessors Unfortunately, this writer lacks the knowledge of Russian necessary to attempt the task

Derk Bodde
University of Pennsylvania


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1. Рецензия опубликована в Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 95 (1) 1975.

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