Commenting on the Tsarist military leadership in August 1914, Solzhenitsyn in August 1914, p. 508 (Glenny translation, previously cited) and p. 467 (Avgust chetyrnadstatogo (Paris: YMCA Press, 1971.) noted, “And before [general] Nechvolodov had summed them up, they had summed him up–as an alien and dangerous presence for the very reason that he was not seeking personal advantage and his actions might therefore prove ruinous to his fellow officers.” [И прежде, чем Нечволодов это понял, уже поняли егоЬ как человека, чуждого их среде, опасного тем именно, что не ищет себе пользы и потомы его действия могут быть разрышутельны для сослуживцев.]


de Mailla’s Translation of Zhu Xi’s History of China

The only Chinese history between the end of the Han and the Manchu era translated into a modern European language of which I am aware is Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi)’s T’ung chien kang mu (Outline and Digest of the General Mirror), which was translated by de Mailla as the Histoire generale de la China (Paris 1777-85) and reprinted by Ch’eng-wen on Taiwan in 1967.  Zhu Xi condensed Sima Guang’s earlier work, finishing around 1172.

As far as I can tell not only are the original Chinese version and original French version out of print (no surprise) but even the reprint is out of print, and the publisher apparently out of business.

Does anyone know differently or know where one might obtain a reprint of the original Chinese text or de Mailla’s translation?

Searching Ancient Historical Texts for Lessons

The more attention one pays to how humans are managing the contemporary world, the clearer becomes the message that we need to learn from history.  Unfortunately, many of the lessons of history are buried in ancient texts that are inaccessible to most of us because they are written in someone else’s language.  Even if you read the language, the text may be either long (Sima Guang’s Comprehensive Mirror, of which more later, is ten 900-page volumes) or unavailable outside of a rare research library.  I hope in this blog will stimulate the sharing of information on ancient histories –

* which to read

* excerpts of note

* where to find translations

* where to purchase a rare copy.


I have a particular interest in Sima Guang’s Zizhi tongjian [Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government] and would like to invite comments on editions and translations that may be available. 

Rafe deCrespigny’s translation of chapters from the Later Han sections, so generously posted on the Net, is a wonderful entre into the world of Sima Qian.  Are there others – translations, glossaries?


I personally will focus on classical Chinese texts but invite others to broaden the scope.

 Two questions for readers to get things started:

1. Where might I find a copy of a modern Chinese version of Sima Qian’s history?  One was published a few years ago in Taiwan but appears to be out of print.

2. Moving away from the Chinese histories with which I have at least a bit of familiarity, does anyone have any recommendations on pre-modern Persian histories that might teach us something of value for our lives today…and be available in a European language?