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Sun Tzu on the Art of War. The Oldest Military Treatise in the World. Translated from the Chinese with Introduction and Critical Notes .
London: Luzac & Co., Printed by E. J. Brill, Leyden, 1910 - Tall octavo. Original yellow printed wraps. Housed in a plush-lined, black cloth flat back box, title gilt to the spine. Wraps overall slightly spotted and soiled, spine skilfully restored, contents clean, sound and partially unopened, a very good copy. First edition thus, arguably the best translation of Sun Tzu in the twentieth century. At the time of his translation, Giles was assistant in the Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts at the British Museum; he was probably the leading Sinologue of his day. It was not until the publication in 1963 of Samuel B. Griffith's translation that Giles met any sort of challenge at all. While Griffith's diction may be more fluent to the modern reader than Giles's, the latter's scholarly apparatus remains peerless. There had been two previous attempts at putting Sun Tzu into a modern European language: Amiot's French version of 1782, and Calthrop's English translation of 1905 (revised in 1908). Giles is amusingly waspish about both: "Père Amiot appears to have enjoyed no small reputation as a sinologue in his day But his so-called translation if placed side by side with the original, is seen at once to be little more than an imposture. It contains a great deal that Sun Tzu did not write, and very little indeed of what he did." Meanwhile Calthrop's 1905 edition demonstrates that "the translator's knowledge of Chinese was far too scanty to fit him to grapple with the manifold difficulties of Sun Tzu"; and in the revised 1908 edition, "Some of the grosser blunders have been rectified and lacunae filled up, but on the other hand a certain number of new mistakes appear." The work had specific relevance with world war looming, and is dedicated to the translator's brother Captain Valentine Giles, R.G., "in the hope that a work 2400 years old may yet contain lessons worth consideration by the soldier of to-day". Fragile and highly elusive, a very desirable copy. [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2015-06-09           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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