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The I Ching

A Biography

Richard J. Smith

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Hardback

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Princeton University Pres
25 March 2012
The I Ching originated in China as a divination manual more than three thousand years ago. In 136 BCE the emperor declared it a Confucian classic, and in the centuries that followed, this work had a profound influence on the philosophy, religion, art, literature, politics, science, technology, and medicine of various cultures throughout East Asia. Jesuit missionaries brought knowledge of the I Ching to Europe in the seventeenth century, and the American counterculture embraced it in the 1960s. Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature. In this concise history, Smith traces the evolution of the I Ching in China and throughout the world, explaining its complex structure, its manifold uses in different cultures, and its enduring appeal. He shows how the indigenous beliefs and customs of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet domesticated the text, and he reflects on whether this Chinese classic can be compared to religious books such as the Bible or the Qur'an. Smith also looks at how the I Ching came to be published in dozens of languages, providing insight and inspiration to millions worldwide--including ardent admirers in the West such as Leibniz, Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan, Jorge Luis Borges, and I. M. Pei. Smith offers an unparalleled biography of the most revered book in China's entire cultural tradition, and he shows us how this enigmatic ancient classic has become a truly global phenomenon.
By:   Richard J. Smith
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 191mm,  Width: 114mm,  Spine: 27mm
Weight:   369g
ISBN:   9780691145099
ISBN 10:   0691145091
Series:   Lives of Great Religious Books
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   25 March 2012
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
List of Illustrations ix The Hexagrams xi Chronology of Chinese Dynasties xvii Preliminary Remarks and Acknowledgments xix Introduction 1 Part One The Domestic Evolution of the Yijing 15 Chapter 1 Genesis of the Changes 19 Chapter 2 The Making of a Classic 48 Chapter 3 Interpreting the Changes 75 Part Two The Transnational Travels of the Yijing 125 Chapter 4 The Changes in East Asia 129 Chapter 5 The Westward Travels of the Changes 170 Concluding Remarks 211 Notes 225 Bibliography 251 Index 265

Richard J. Smith is the George and Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities and professor of history at Rice University. His many books include Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I-Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China .

Reviews for The I Ching: A Biography

Smith's fascinating history of what he usually calls the Yijing--around 3,000 years old; first sanctioned by the Chinese state as a classic in 136 BCE--traces its influence on western artists such as Philip K Dick, Raymond Queneau, John Cage (who composed aleatory music with its help) and Jorge Luis Borges, as well as its enthusiastic reception by scientists (Leibniz saw in it his binary system confirmed), and its hermeneutic and political history in China itself. -- Steven Poole, The Guardian


  • Commended for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2012.
  • Short-listed for Choice 's Outstanding Academic Titles 2012 2012
  • Short-listed for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2012
  • Shortlisted for Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2012.
  • Winner of 2013 Cover/Jacket Merit Award 2013

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