Friday, July 10, 2009

The Death of Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi was dying, and his disciples wanted to bury him splendiferously. Spake Zhuangzi: "Heaven and earth are my coffin. Sun and moon are my jade rings, the stars my pearls and gems, and the whole creation escorts me. Thus, I shall have a splendid funeral. What else would you add?" Spake the disciples: "We are afraid, crows and kites might eat the master." Spake Zhuangzi: "Unburied I serve crows and kites as nutrition, buried worms and ants. To take from the one to give to the other: why being such biased?

[Humble attempt to translate "Der Tod des Dschuang Dsï", published in Dschuang Dsï - Südliches Blütenland, Eugen Diederichs Verlag, p. 294]


  1. that looks like a humble good translation Sean.)

  2. Sean- Pour un coup d'essai, ce fût un coup de maitre.
    Splendiferously...What a magnificent word for the burial of an extraordinary man. I hope you'll give us more anecdotes from Eugen Diederichs Verlag.

  3. Maître, avec l'accent circonflexe.Very important de bien écrire une citation.:))

  4. Ha ha, my dear Hans. I have no doubt you know that 'humble good' in German is 'bescheiden gut', and that 'bescheiden' in this case very often stands for 'beschissen'.
    ha ha ha ...
    Have a great weekend, my friend.

    did I ever mention that your kind compliments once might be the reason for a seanish megalomania? :)
    Just to make sure: Eugen Diederich is the publisher, not the author/translator.
    The translator is the same who translated the I Ching from the Chinese into German: Richard Wilhelms.

    As for your kind wish: I'd like to post quite a few 'anecdotes' but, unfortunately, it would take too long translating them. That's why I'd prefer to find proper English translations. We shall see ... :)

    so glad you like it.
    Strangely, only recently I talked with a friend exactly about this kind of an end ...
    As for the book I took this very episode from: I do consider it remarkable especially as its translator (Richard Wilhelm) explicitly says that very probably not every anecdote can / should be ascribed to Zhuangzi, himself.
    Which is why to me it seems to be both a very humble and acribic attempt to introduce 'Western readers' to Chinese philosophy.

  5. Thanks for clarifying the origin of the text. I knew it was oriental but I thought Zhuangzi was a fictional character, not a Chinese philosopher. Googling the name revealed fascinating informations, and 2-3 tales of wisdom. Of course, apart from a bit of Confucius, I know very little about Chinese thinking. I'm grateful for your posts. :)

  6. Claudia,
    when tinking of China, one should not only think of Confucius. :)