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Preface by the Translator

The present work is the first translation of the complete writings of Han Fei Tzŭinto a Western language. It is based on the best Chinese text and commentaries, Wang Hsien-shen's The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzŭwith Collected Commentaries1 (1896), Kao Hêng's Supplementary Commentaries on Han Fei Tzŭ's Works2 (1933), and Yung Chao-tsu's Textual Criticisms of Han Fei Tzŭ's Works3 (1936), with two most recent explicative editions of the text with Japanese translations and notes, one by Tokan Hirazawa 4 (1931) and another by the Waseda University Press 5 (1932-3), as reference.

Wang Hsien-shen completed his monumental work in 1895. Its block-printed copies did not come off the press in Changsha, the great scholar's native city, till over one year later. Though the text is not punctuated like all the texts of other Chinese classics, I have found no misprint. Nowadays it is apparently out of print, while rare copies may be still procurable in big libraries and old book stores. The reprint of Wang's work by the Commercial Press, Shanghai, with movable types, contains not more than a dozen of misprints in the whole book. Yet it is regrettable that the marks of punctuation, which they added with a view to increasing the intelligibility of the text, abound with misleading errors. Kao Hêng's work, which appeared in Nos. 3 and 4 in Vol. II of the Wuhan University Quarterly Journal of Liberal Arts,6 reveals his scholarly thoroughness and constitutes an original contribution to the existing knowledge of Han Fei Tzŭ's text. Yung Chao-tsu's work, in the main, represents a systematic synthesis of the textual criticisms of Han Fei Tzŭ's works by his predecessors and himself. The two Japanese editions and translations are not free from a number of errors and misprints, but the exegetical remarks and the explanatory notes added by the translators are exceedingly valuable. By collating these works carefully, I have hoped that the textual basis of my English rendering can be a co-ordination of the best and newest scholarly efforts on the Chinese original. However, my translation probably involves incorrect or inaccurate points, wherefore any suggestion for emendations or elucidations made by the reader will be most welcome.

As it is necessary in the translation to acquaint the reader with the author's life and times as well as the history of the text in the original, I have prefixed to the author's Works The Biography of Han Fei Tzŭ, by Ssŭ-ma Ch`ien, Wang Hsien-ch`ien's Preface to "The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzŭwith Collected Commentaries", and Wang Hsien-shen's own Foreword to "The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzŭ with Collected Commentaries", which altogether can make a general introduction, brief but clear. My methodological introduction is meant to clarify the main problems, principles, and methods of translation.

On the completion of this work, I should acknowledge my thanks to Dr. M. S. Bates and Mr. Li Siao-yen for the criticisms and suggestions they have given me on all available occasions, and to the Libraries of the University of Nanking, the Institute of Chinese Cultural Studies, and the University of Hong Kong for the facilities they have afforded me, as well as to Dr. Neville Whymant, formerly of the London School of Oriental Studies, for helpful comments, and Mr. Arthur Probsthain for his congenial interest in promoting the present work and enabling its publication to materialize. I am also indebted to my wife who has carefully gone over the whole translation and inspired my perseverance in many painstaking efforts which the author since centuries ago has imposed upon anybody attempting to translate his writings into any alien tongue.

W. K. Liao.
Hong Kong,
April, 1939.


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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia