11 Best Books on Confucius

Picture of Confucius

 Best Books on Confucius: The philosophy of Confucius, also known as Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice, kindness, and sincerity. Confucianism was part of the Chinese social fabric and way of life; to Confucians, everyday life was the arena of religion. His followers competed successfully with many other schools during the Hundred Schools of Thought era only to be suppressed in favor of the Legalists during the Qin dynasty. Following the victory of Han over Chu after the collapse of Qin, Confucius’s thoughts received official sanction in the new government. Please enjoy our list of the Best Books on Confucius.

Best Books on Confucius

Confucius Analects : A New Translation with Annotations and Commentaries by Raymond K. Li

Confucius (also known as Kong Qiu, , and Kong Zhong Ni, , 551 – 479 BC) was a prominent, if not the most influential, philosopher of China. His teachings have been fundamental to the Chinese civilization and culture for over two and half millennia. The Analects was written and compiled by Confucius’ disciples after his death. It documented his conversations with his disciples and other relevant characters, and the dialogues among his disciples. These conversations highlighted key doctrines of Confucianism which cover a wide range of topics on education, self-cultivation, morality, ethics, society, social norms, government, law and order, politics, public service careers, music, poetry and so on. Many salient teachings of the Analects are still applicable today. Different from many translations, this new translation has deployed plain and colloquial English, simple writing style, and modern context to facilitate comprehension by common readers. 

The Analects (Penguin Classics) by Confucius and D. C. Lau

The Analects are a collection of Confucius’s sayings brought together by his pupils shortly after his death in 497 BC. Together they express a philosophy, or a moral code, by which Confucius, one of the most humane thinkers of all time, believed everyone should live. Upholding the ideals of wisdom, self-knowledge, courage and love of one’s fellow man, he argued that the pursuit of virtue should be every individual’s supreme goal. And, while following the Way, or the truth, might not result in immediate or material gain, Confucius showed that it could nevertheless bring its own powerful and lasting spiritual rewards.

This edition contains a detailed introduction exploring the concepts of the original work, a bibliography and glossary and appendices on Confucius himself, The Analects and the disciples who compiled them.

The Analects (Penguin Classics) by Confucius and Annping Chin

The book that the Chinese have returned to repeatedly for reflection, renewal, and validation of their own views, The Analects was compiled by the disciples of Confucius, China’s earliest teacher and moral thinker, from his remarks and his conversations with rulers, political operators, and people he happened to meet. It laid the foundation of the Chinese idea of what is moral and what is politically viable, what is a good government and who has integrity.

Analects: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries (Hackett Classics) by Confucius and Edward Slingerland

This edition goes beyond others that largely leave readers to their own devices in understanding this cryptic work, by providing an entrée into the text that parallels the traditional Chinese way of approaching it: alongside Slingerland’s exquisite rendering of the work are his translations of a selection of classic Chinese commentaries that shed light on difficult passages, provide historical and cultural context, and invite the reader to ponder a range of interpretations. The ideal student edition, this volume also includes a general introduction, notes, multiple appendices–including a glossary of technical terms, references to modern Western scholarship that point the way for further study, and an annotated bibliography.

The Complete Confucius: The Analects, The Doctrine Of The Mean, and The Great Learning with an Introduction by Nicholas Tamblyn by Confucius and Nicholas Tamblyn

Confucius is one of our very best thinkers, a model for living a self-aware and virtuous life. “The Complete Confucius: The Analects, The Doctrine Of The Mean, and The Great Learning,” brings together the most important Confucian texts with an introduction by Nicholas Tamblyn, and is part of The Essential Series by Golding Books.

Confucius lived from 551–479 BC. The principles he espoused largely reflected the values and traditions in China at the time. Rather than create a formal theory, Confucius desired that his disciples study, learning and mastering the classic older texts, and affirmed that the superior person seeks and loves learning for the sake of learning, and righteousness for the sake of righteousness.

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Confucius from the Heart: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World by Yu Dan

As one of Chinas’s all-time bestsellers, “Confucius from the Heart” unveils the wisdom of “The Analects,” a major text of Confucian philosophy that has dominated Chinas’s intellectual and spiritual culture for more than two millenia.

Yu Dan helps readers attain spiritual happiness and harmony. Her simple, conversational prose finally makes the ancient wisdom of Confucius accessible to all, ultimately unveiling the immense value of Confucian teachings.

In today’s increasingly demanding world, “Confucius from the Heart” is a beacon of light, ready to soothe our souls with wisdom that has guided a whole culture and withstood the test of time.

Analects of Confucius (Wisehouse Classics Edition) by Confucius

The Analects (literally: “Edited Conversations”), also known as the Analects of Confucius, is a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and written by Confucius’ followers. It is believed to have been written during the Warring States period (475 BC-221 BC), and it achieved its final form during the mid-Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). By the early Han dynasty the Analects was considered merely a “commentary” on the Five Classics, but the status of the Analects grew to be one of the central texts of Confucianism by the end of that dynasty.

Confucius: A Biography by Jonathan Clements

JONATHAN CLEMENTS ‘Rich with history and studded with the sayings for which the sage is known. . . Clements uses his considerable story- telling skill to make “the troubled life of a teacher who lived two-and-a-half thousand years ago” come alive.’ – The Asian Reporter ‘Clements reveals the man behind the legend, as well as providing a useful introduction to Confucius’ thoughts and teachings.’ – The Good Book Guide The teachings of Confucius have survived for twenty- five centuries and shaped over a quarter of the world’s population – his image appears not only in temples across East Asia, but also above the entrance to the US Supreme Court. Confucius: A Biography reveals unexpected sides of the ancient philosopher – his youth, his interaction with his pupils, his feuds with his rivals and even his biting wit. This revised edition includes three new chapters on the influence of Confucius in Chinese history, the modernist and post-modernist backlashes against Confucian thought, and its relevance in our world today.

The Four Chinese Classics: Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, Analects, Mencius by David Hinton

The books collected in this volume represent the first time since the mid-nineteenth century that the four seminal masterworks of ancient Chinese thought have been translated as a unified series by a single translator. Hinton’s award-winning experience translating a wide range of ancient Chinese poets makes these books sing in English as never before. But these new versions are not only inviting and immensely readable, they also apply much-needed consistency to key philosophical terms in these texts, lending structural links and philosophical rigor heretofore unavailable in English. Breathing new life into these originary classics, Hinton’s new translations will stand as the definitive texts for our era.

 

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Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West by T.R. Reid

Anyone who has heard his weekly commentary on NPR knows that T. R. Reid is trenchant, funny, and deeply knowledgeable reporter and now he brings this erudition and humor to the five years he spent in Japan–where he served as The Washington Post’s Tokyo bureau chief.  He provides unique insights into the country and its 2,500-year-old Confucian tradition, a powerful ethical system that has played an integral role in the continent’s “postwar miracle.”

Whether describing his neighbor calmly asserting that his son’s loud bass playing brings disrepute on the neighborhood, or the Japanese custom of having students clean the schools, Reid inspires us to consider the many benefits of the Asian Way–as well as its drawbacks–and to use this to come to a greater understanding of both Japanese culture and America.

Confucian Analects, The Great Learning & The Doctrine of the Mean (Illustrated) by Confucius and James Legge

Originally, these sayings and conversations were penned during the Warring States period of Chinese antiquity, which saw great social upheaval between the various realms of the Middle Kingdom. Divided into twenty principle chapters (called books) – the subjects range from wise behaviour in times of crisis to general instruction upon how to live a peaceful life characterised by a serene mood, humility to others, and quality work performed well.

The importance of harmonious relations in the family and wider community cooperation are also alluded to, offering an insight into the morals and customs of ancient Chinese life. The politics of the time, which were riddled with violent infighting among noble families and regional dukedoms, attracts attention from Confucius and his contemporaries.

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