The Art of War (Sun)/The Text of Sun Tzŭ

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The Text of Sun Tzŭ.

I have found it difficult to glean much about the history of Sun th’i's text. The quotations that occur in early authors go to show that the “13 chapters” of which Ssu- ma Ch‘ien speaks were essentially the same as those now extant. We have his word for it that they were widely circulated in his day, and can only regret that he refrained from discussing them on that account.1 Sun Hsing-yen says in his preface: —

During the Ch‘in and Han dynasties Sun Tz'fi’s Art of W'ar was in

ge ral use amongst mi itary commanders, bL they s m to h eated 1 as a wor x un

W mysterious import, and were unwillin to e po\dit or the benefit of posterity. Thus it came about that Wei Wu was the first to write a commentary on it. ‘

As we have already seen, there is no reasonable ground to suppose that Ts‘ao Kung tampered with the text. But the text itself is often so obscure, and the number of editions which appeared from that time onward so great, especially during the T‘ang and Sung dynasties, that it would be surprising if numerous corruptions had not managed to creep in. Towards the middle of the Sung period, by which time all the chief commentaries on Sun Tzfi were in existence, a certain a: fl Chi T‘ien-pao published

a work in 15 Milan entitled + g? .35; 3}" @’ “Sun Tzfi

with the collected commentaries of ten writers.” There was another text, with variant readings put forward by Chu Fu of j: a; Ta-hsing,3 which also had supporters among the scholars of that period; but in the Ming editions, Sun Hsing—yen tells us, these readings were for some reason or other no longer put into circulation.4 Thus, until the end of the 18th century, the text in sole pos- session of the field was one derived from Chi T‘ien-pao’s edition, although no actual copy of that important work was known to have surrived. That, therefore, is the text of 'Sun Tzfi which appears in the War section of the great. Imperial encyclopaedia printed in 1726, the fi‘ 4 g g [Cu C/zz'n T‘u S/m C/zz' C/z‘éng. Another copy at my disposal of what is practically the same text, with slight variations, is that contained in the E] $ + — -¥‘ “Eleven philosophers of the Chou and Ch‘in dynasties” [I758]. And the Chinese printed in Capt. CalthrOp’s first edition is evidently a similar version which has filtered through Japanese channels. So things remained until % E Sun Hsing-yen [1752—1818], a distinguished antiquarian and classical scholar,1 who claimed to be an actual descendant of Sun Wu, 2 accidentally discovered a copy of Chi T‘ien-pao’s long—lost work, when on a Visit to the library of the E [32 I-lua—yin temple. 3 Appended to it was the 3% I 572250 of g“ i g Cheng Yu-hsien, mentioned in the T‘zmg C/zz'lz, and also believed to have perished. 4 This is what Sun Hsing-yen designates as the ‘5‘ or R 2'; “original edition (or text)” — a rather misleading name, for it cannot by any means claim to set before us the text of Sun Tzu in its pristine purity. Chi T‘ien-pao was a careless compiler,‘ and appears to have been content to reproduce the somewhat debased version current in his day, without troubling to collate it with the earliest editions then available. Fortunately, two versions of Sun T zfi, even older than the newly discovered work, were still extant, one buried in the 7‘ng Tim, Tu Yu’s great treatise on the Constitution, the other similarly enshrined in the T‘az' P‘z'ng Yii Lam encyclo- paedia. In both the complete text is to be found, though split up into fragments, intermixed with other matter, and scattered piecemeal over a number of different sections. Considering that the Kii_Lan takes usback to ithe Lear 285, and the T‘zmg Tim about zoo, years further still, to the middle of the T‘angfiynasty, the value of these early transcripts of Sun Tzfi can hardly be overestimated. Yet the idea of utilising them does not seem to have oc- curred to anyone until Sun Hsing-yen, acting under Govern- ment instructions, undertook a thorough recension of the text. This is his own account: ——

Because of the numerous mistakes in the text of Sun Tz‘fi which his editors had handed down, the Government ordered that the ancient edition [of Chi T‘ien-pao] should be used, and that the text should be revised and corrected throughout. It happened that Wu Nien—hu, the Governor Pi Kua, and Hsi, a graduate of the second degree, had all devoted them- selves to this study, probably surpassing me therein. Accordingly, I have had the whole work cut on blocks as a text-book for military men. 1

The three individuals here referred to had evidently been occupied on the text of Sun th’i prior to Sun Hsing- yen’s commission, but we are left in doubt as to the work they really accomplished. At any rate, the new edition, when ultimately produced, appeared in the names of Sun Hsing—yen and only one co-editor, 5% j\ Wu Jen-chi. They took the “original text” as their basis, and by careful comparison with the older versions, as well as the extant commentaries and other sources of information such as the I ‘Sfluo, succeeded in restOring a very large number of doubtful passages, and turned out, on the whole, what must be accepted as the closest approximation we are ever likely. to get to Sun Tz'u's original work. This is- what will hereafter be denominated the “standard text.”

The copy which I have used belongs to a re-issue dated 1877. It is in 6 [56%, forming part of a well-printed set of 23 early philosophical works in 83 156‘”. 1 It opens with a preface by Sun Hsing-yen (largely quoted in this intro— duction), vindicating the traditional View of Sun Tz'u’s life and performances, and summing up in remarkably concise fashion the evidence in its favour. This is followed by Ts‘ao Kung’s preface to his edition, and the biography of Sun Tzu from the Sflzfi Cflz', both translated above. Then come, firstly, Chéng Yu-hsien’s [512250,2 with author’s preface, and next, a short miscellany of historical and bibliographical information entitled % ¥ 52m T22? Hvé-Z Lu, compiled by $ mfg] Pi I—hs'un. As regards the body of the work, each separate sentence is followed by a note on the text, if required, and then by the various commentaries appertaining to it, arranged in chronological order. These we shall now proceed to discuss briefly, one by one.