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Zuo Zhuan 左传 – Top 100 Books in China

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Chronicle history books with complete narration

Overview

Chinese Name: 左传

English Name: Zuo Zhuan, Tradition of Zuo, The Zuo Tradition, The Commentary of Zuo

Other Names: Zuo Shi Chun Qiu左氏春秋, Chun Qiu Zuo Shi Zhuan春秋左氏传, Zuo Shi左氏, Chun Qiu Nei Zhuan春秋内传

Author: Zuo Qiuming 左丘明 or ?

Originally Published: End of the Spring and Autumn Period

Genre: History

Brief Introduction of Zuo Zhuan

Zuo Zhuan is not only a chronicle history book with complete narration in ancient China, but also a representative of prose works in Pre-Qin Dynasty.

It is one of the important classics of Confucianism and an important study history book for Confucian students. Together with Gongyang Zhuan公羊传 and Guliang Zhuan谷梁传, they wear called “Three Zhuan of Spring and Autumn Period春秋三传”.

In essence, Zuo Zhuan is an independent historical literary work. It began in 722 BC and ended in 468 BC. Based on the Spring and Autumn春秋, it explains the outline of the Spring and Autumn春秋 by describing the specific historical facts of the spring and Autumn Period.

 

Zuo Zhuan represents the highest achievement of Pre-Qin historiography. It is an important document to study Pre-Qin history and spring and autumn history. It has a great impact on later historiography, especially on establishing the status of chronicle history books. Moreover, because it has a strong tendency of Confucianism, emphasizes hierarchical order and patriarchal ethics, pays attention to the distinction between the elderly and the young, and also shows the thought of “people-oriented民本”, it is also an important historical material for the study of Pre-Qin Confucianism.

Zuo Zhuan mainly records the decline of the Zhou royal family and the history of princes striving for hegemony, and describes and comments on all kinds of etiquette norms, rules and regulations, social customs, ethnic relations, moral concepts, astronomy and geography, calendar and seasons, ancient documents, myths and legends, and ballads.

Zuo Zhuan is not only a historical work, but also a very excellent literary work. It is good at describing wars, good at depicting characters and paying attention to recording words.

 

Author of Zuo Zhuan

Zuo Zhuan is said to have been written by Zuo Qiuming左丘明, a historian at the end of the Spring and Autumn Period. Sima Qian司马迁, Ban Gu班固 and others believe that Zuo Qiuming wrote Zuo Zhuan.

Zhao Kuang赵匡 of the Tang Dynasty first suspected that Zuo Qiuming did not write Zuo Zhuan. Since then, many scholars have also been skeptical. Many people believe that Zuo’s, who wrote Zuo Zhuan, is not Zuo Qiuming.

Ji Yun纪昀 of the Qing Dynasty still believed that Zuo Qiuming wrote the Zuo Zhuan.

Zuo Qiuming左丘明
Zuo Qiuming左丘明

Zuo Qiuming (556-451 BC), a historian, writer, thinker and essayist in the late Spring and Autumn Period.

He once served as a historian of the state of Lu鲁国. In order to analyze the Spring and Autumn Annals, he wrote Zuo Zhuan and Guoyu国语. When he wrote Guoyu, he was blind. The two books recorded many important historical events of the Western Zhou Dynasty and the spring and Autumn Annals, and preserved high-value original materials. Due to the detailed historical materials and vivid writing, it has aroused the interest and discussion of scholars at all times and at home and abroad.

Zuo Zhuan and Guo Yu左传与国语

Zuo Qiuming is the founder of Chinese traditional historiography. The historians regard Zuo Qiuming as the founder of Chinese historiography. Zuo Qiuming’s thought was Confucianism, which more reflected the interests and requirements of the people at that time.

 

Excerpts of Zuo Zhuan

多行不义必自毙。

If you do many bad things, you will kill yourself.

人谁无过?过而能改,善莫大焉。

Who is not at fault? It’s great to have a mistake and be able to correct it.

国之兴也,视民如伤,是其福也;其亡也,以民为土芥,是其祸也。

When the country prospered, it was a great blessing for those in power to treat the common people as if they cared for the injured; When the country declined, the rulers treated the common people as insignificant as dirt and grass mustard, which was its curse.

为政者不赏私劳,不罚私怨。

Those in power cannot reward those who are kind to themselves without reason, and cannot punish those who have personal enemies with them.

Evaluation of Ri Zhi Lu

“Zuo Zhuan” is a beautiful article. It describes complex matters rigorously and clearly, and the plot is very tortuous and concise. Zuo Zhuan, even as a literary book, should also be included in the intensive reading

Liang Qichao梁启超

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