The Zhuangzi (Sayings of Master Zhuang) is one of the foundational texts of the Chinese philosophical tradition and the cornerstone of Daoist thought. The earliest and most influential commentary on the Zhuangzi is that of Guo Xiang (265-312), who also edited the text into the thirty-three-chapter version known ever since. Guo's commentary enriches readings of the Zhuangzi, offering keen insights into the meaning and significance of its pithy but often ambiguous aphorisms, narratives, and parables.
Richard John Lynn's new translation of the Zhuangzi is the first to follow Guo's commentary in its interpretive choices. Unlike any previous translation into any language, its guiding principle is how Guo read the text; Lynn renders the Zhuangzi in terms of Guo's understanding. This approach allows for the full integration of the text of the Zhuangzi with Guo's commentary. The book also features a translation of Guo's complete interlinear commentary and is annotated throughout.
A critical introduction includes a detailed account of Guo's life and times as well as analysis of his essential contributions to the arcane learning (xuanxue) of the fourth century and the development of Chinese philosophy. Lynn sheds new light on how the Daoist classic, which has often been seen as a timeless book of wisdom, is situated in its historical context, while also considering it as a guide to personal cultivation and self-realization.