The Grand Scribe's Records, Volume VIII

The Grand Scribe's Records, Volume VIII

The Memoirs of Han China, Part I
Ssu-ma Ch'ien, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr., translated by Meghan Cai, Stephen Durrant, Reinhard Emmerich, Hans van Ess, Qian Liu, Christian Meyer, William H. Nienhauser, Jr., Marc Nürnberger, Michael Schimmelpfennig, Judith Suwald, Wang Jing
Distribution: Global except China
Publication date: 02/27/2019
Format: Hardback 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-04327-6
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The 16 chapters translated herein continue the biographies of individuals in pre-Han China presented in volume seven of The Grand Scribe's Records. The reader is introduced to the major supporters and rivals of the founders of the Han Dynasty: the generals, advisors, strategists, and ministers who helped to shape the foundations of the first sustained empire in Chinese history. Although these men were often of common stock, they influenced the development of many aspects of the Han culture, a culture which in turn served as a model for subsequent eras. Based on oral and written accounts as well as on administrative records, these biographies range stylistically from anecdotal tales to repetitious reports of achievements in battle. The failure of the first five Han emperors to trust the loyalty of their subordinates is a leitmotif in many of these chapters. But the individual motifs that echo other sections of The Grand Scribe's Records—unrecognized heroes, both loyal and disloyal retainers, broken friendships, and faithless lovers—also appear in these pages.

Author Bio

Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145–ca. 86 BC), China's greatest historian and an important official in the Han dynasty, compiled the history of his culture from its beginnings through the end of the 2nd century BCE.

William H. Nienhauser, Jr., is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classical Chinese Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


“These volumes are most welcome. . . . The English translation has been done meticulously, with full scholarly apparatus. . . . These volumes are essential library additions.”
 — Choice

[T]he Grand Scribe's Records volume 8 is a remarkable achievement and an interesting experiment in combining something resembling a traditional Chinese commentarial style with a Western scholarly context. . . . And, as with previous volumes, the intrepid beginner or the careful specialist will find volume 8 to be a helpful aid to research on the Shiji.”
 — China Review International

““ . . . an essential source for the study of events in early China, a guide to the moral philosophy of the gentlemen of Han, and a splendid work of literature which may be read for the pleasure of its style and the power of its narrative. . . . This work makes Shi ji and its scholarship accessible to any reader of English, and it is a model for any work in this field and style.” —Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Oxford Journals “Through such work as this, the scholary and literary community of the West will learn more of the splendour and romance of early China, and may better appreciate the lessons in humanity presented by its great historian.” —Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies “. . . Nienhauser’s new translation is scrupulously scholarly . . . the design of this series is nearly flawless. . . the translation itself is very precise . . .” —Chinese Literature, Essays, Articles, Reviews This project will result in the first complete translation (in nine volumes) of the Shih chi (The Grand Scribe’s Records), one of the most important narratives in traditional China. Ssu-ma Ch’ien (145-c.86 B.C.), who compiled the work, is known as the Herodotus of China.”

“The latest volume in the annotated translation of the Shih chi, one of the most important historical works of Ancient China. " . . .The English translation has been done meticulously, with full scholarly apparatus. . . . These volumes are essential library additions." —Choice”

“With the latest volume in the annotated translation of Ssu-ma Ch’ien’s Shi chi (The Grand Scribe’s Records), we enter the world of the shih chia or “hereditary houses.” Combining myth, anecdote, chronicle, and biography based on early written and oral sources, many no longer extant, the narratives make for compelling reading, as dramatic and readable as any in this grand history.”

“This second volume of the ongoing annotated translation of Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Shih chi (The Grand Scribe's Records), widely acknowledged as the most important early Chinese history, contains the "basic annals" of five early Han-dynasty emperors. When completed this translation will bring all 130 chapters of the Shih chi into English. Volumes 1 and 7 were published by Indiana University Press in 1994.”

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Table of Contents

On Using This Book
Weights and Measures
List of Abbreviations

Memoir 29 (William H. Nienhauser, Jr., translator)
Memoir 30 (Stephen Durrant, translator)
Memoir 31 (Meghan Cai and Qian Liu, translators)
Memoir 32 (Wang Jing, translator)
Memoir 33 (Reinhard Emmerich, translator)
Memoir 34 (Zhao Hua, translator)
Memoir 35 (William H. Nienhauser, Jr., translator)
Memoir 36 (William H. Nienhauser, Jr., translator)
Memoir 37 (Hans van Ess, translator)
Memoir 38 (Michael Schimmelpfennig, translator)
Memoir 39 (Christian Meyer, translator)
Memoir 40 (Judith Suwald, translator)
Memoir 41 (Marc Nurnberger, translator)
Memoir 42 (Hans van Ess, translator)
Memoir 43 (Wang Jing, translator)
Memoir 44 (Hans van Ess, translator)

Frequently Mentioned Commentators
Biographical Sketches of Shih chi Commentators (Erich Haenisch and Liu Po-chuang)
Selected Recent Studies of the Shih chi