HEGUANZI: Full English translation
The Pheasant Cap Master and the End of History
Linking Religion to Philosophy in Early China
By Marnix Wells
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Following a catastrophic defeat at Changping in 260 BCE, and the reported immolation of close to half a million Zhao soldiers by Qin, a mysterious figure appeared on the stage of history. He was called Heguanzi, the ‘Pheasant Cap’ master and appeared incognito. Seemingly a political refugee, this Daoist Demosthenes in outspoken jeremiads warned against a looming danger of total collapse and Zhao’s imminent annexation by the ruthless kingdom of Qin.
Pheasant Cap’s writings, long neglected and misunderstood, combine a potent mix of religion, metaphysics, philosophy, politics and strategy to unroll a vibrant picture of life and death in perhaps the most climactic period of Chinese history. Against the totalitarian system of Qin, he offers an alternative vision of meritocracy and inclusiveness to unite a fractured world. Marnix Wells offers readers the first full translation and analysis in any language.
The Phaesant Cap Master and the End of History presents the first full English translation of the Heguanzi. An introductory essay outlines the historical relevance of this ancient Chinese text which connects pre-Qin philosophy with later religious and millenarian movements often associated with Daoism. Both the translation and the Introduction provide important contributions to the study of ancient Chinese history, philosophy, religion, and literature. —Hans-Georg Moeller, University of County Cork
The first full translation of this difficult yet the one of most important treatises in early China will bring our understanding of the complexity and significance of Daoism and Chinese Thought into a new level. —Robin R.Wang, Loyola Marymount University
The Pheasant Cap Master has never before been completely translated into any Western language. This detailed study and translation of this notoriously difficult text is therefore more than welcome. Well's knowledge of the actual historical context—both geographical and chronological—makes this book particularly lively and persuasive, a major contribution to the field. —Carine Defoort, University of Leuven
Marnix Wells graduated from Oxford University with a B. A. in Classical Chinese in 1967, then in shipping management for 25 years. In 2001, he earned his Ph. D. in philosophy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. In 2005 he published a Scholar Boxer on the theory and evolution of Taiji quan.