University of Chicago
Warring States 'Echoes' of the Past is about the use of quotation in Chinese literature of the Warring States period (481–221 B.C.). By considering a small number of quotations whose contents parallel what now appear in the received versions of two canonical texts, the Odes and Documents, it is possible to develop a methodology for the study of quotations, their various attestations, and the discourses in which they are embedded.
The Introduction provides a survey of quotations in ancient texts and is followed by an explanation of the approach, which considers five important aspects of a quotation: source, identification, other attestations, local context, and "practice" vs. "theory." The rest of the study is made up of four case studies.
In Chapter One, the discussion focuses on the quotation of the "Shijiu" (The cuckoo) and the imagery of a cuckoo feeding its seven chicks described in that poem. In particular, the discussion considers how the quotation is interpreted by two texts from the Warring States, the "Wuxing" (Five activities) and "Ziyi" (Black robe). Given that both the "Wuxing" and "Ziyi" are extant in multiple versions, produced at different moments in time, it is possible to see how their discussions of a single poem have changed over time.
The second chapter takes up the inherited tradition associated with the Documents. It does this by considering the "Cheng zhi wen zhi" and its interpretation of two quotations from the "Jun Shi" (Lord Shi). The investigation makes an attempt to reconstruct the discourse behind the two quotations. In the second part of the chapter, this involves placing the "Cheng zhi wen zhi" passage in the context of legends about Wu Ding, the famous ruler of the Shang. In the first part of the chapter, the situation is more complex, for the analysis there shows that the "Cheng zhi wen zhi," in its interpretation of the "Jun Shi," was drawing on another source associated with the Documents, the "Shaogao" (The announcement of Shao).
Not all references to inherited traditions in Warring States texts are marked explicitly as such. The connection can include such intertextual references as the incorporation of certain key terms; the attempt to flesh out a theme, an image, or an idea; the adaptation of the sequence in which different arguments are advanced; and the act of paraphrasing, imitating, or rewriting an inherited tradition. An investigation concerning these intertextual connections, or what I refer to as "allusions," is the subject of Chapter Three. Focusing on two closely related passages from the "Liude" (Six virtues) and "Wuxing" (Five activities), the analysis shows that the two texts consist of a type of wordplay which draws a semantic linkage between a monosyllabic word and a reduplicative binome based on their phonological identity or similarity. In both cases, it is possible to trace the reduplicative binome back to a poem now found in the received text of the Odes. Given that the two poems are themselves closely related—both concern King Wen and are placed immediately adjacent to each other in the received text of the Odes—they point to a common source, perhaps a body of teachings concerning King Wen or a shared set of vocabulary for discussing him, which served as the basis of the two poems, the "Liude," "Wuxing," and a "commentary" of the "Wuxing."
If the first three chapters illustrate the "practice" of the quotation of inherited words during the Warring States, then the final chapter turns to what one might refer to as the "theory" about inherited words, particularly, by focusing on the "Xing zi ming chu" (Nature arises from fate), one of the most important texts to have been discovered recently. The "Xing zi ming chu" is unlike all of the newly excavated texts considered in the previous three chapters in that it describes, rather than quotes from inherited tradition. This refers to an extensive discussion in that text on the Odes, the Documents, the rites, and music. Based on a comparison with all other comparable accounts in the literary record, the analysis shows that the "Xing zi ming chu" is part of a more extended discussion about instruction, human nature, ancient tradition, and the response of the mind to external things. In this way, the "Xing zi ming chu" was participating in a debate about inherited tradition, and it shared with several early accounts a similar vocabulary and certain rhetorical strategies, even if they ultimately employed these devices to stake completely different claims. It is only in theXunzi that one finds an attempt to synthesize the various positions and offer a program for the study of inherited tradition.