Journal directory listing - Volume 21-30 (1976-1985) - Volume 29 (1984)

The Question of Authorship in Chuang Tzu Author: Pin-Ching Chen


According to Han Shu I Wen Chih, there are fifty-two chapters in Chuang Tzu. The text was not annotated until Chin Dynasty. The earliest extant annota-tion of Chuang Tzu is that of Kuo Hsiang who annotated only thirty-three of the fifty-two chapters, including seven of the inner chapters, fifteen of the outer chapters and eleven miscellaneous chapters. Ancient arid present-day commenta-tors alike agree that the inner chapters were written by Chuang Tzu himself, but the rest of the twenty-six chapters were by various hands at various times, Liu Lu-lin said, "Chuang Tzu includes not only the ideas of Chuang Tzu himself, but also Taoist tradition from Chuang Tzu to King Huai-nan.... The,student of Chuang Tzu should regard the text as a synthesis of the Taoist tradition, not as the work of a single hand" (See The Philosophers of Chou Chin). Liu's comment is both cor-rect and discerning. Because Chuang Tzu's diction is eccentric and his mode frequently allegorical, the authorship of the text is difficult to fix with certainty. Ku Chieh-kang said, "Since Chuang Tzu's language is 'eccentric', a conclusive answer to the question of authorship is impossible" (Verification of Ancient History, Vol. 1,284). In my view the inner chapters belong to Chuang Tzu himself. Though they may include later interpolations, they should be regarded as essential-ly derived from his thought The outer and miscellaneous chapters were probably written either by the disciples of Chuang Tzu or in imitation of Chuang Tzu by later scholars who added them to the text. Except for those chapters added by later scholars, everything in the text expresses Chuang Tzu's thought. We should, therefore, regard Chuang Tzu as an anthology of the Master's thought,incorporating the tradition form Chuang Tzu to King Huai-nan. The present study takes into account the views of ancient and present-day commentators to express the author's own convictions regarding the authorship of the now extant thirty-three chapters.

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