Monthly Archives: September 2007

Yu Dan’s "Little Friend" (小朋友)?

Here’s a good post on Yu Dan’s work on Confucius by Alan Baumler at Frog In A Well. I have mixed feelings about Yu Dan’s work, as I explain in one of my earlier posts here. It is certainly amazing that Confucius makes it as a bestseller anywhere, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really Confucius that is making the bestseller lists, or rather some monstrous pop version Confucius’ students would not recognize. I think what caused this turn toward skepticism about Yu Dan’s project is the revelation (from Baumler) that she “apparently thinks that the term 小人 [xiao ren] means ‘child'”. Baumler is far too charitable when he calls this “utterly wrong.” I would not have been so nice. To interpret the Confucian xiao ren as ‘child’ is worse than wrong. It’s stupid. It illustrates a complete lack of understanding of the classical language and context. I won’t attribute this failing to her yet, however–with a charge this great one at least owes the author the benefit of reading her work. I’m going to check out a copy of her 论语心得 (Lunyu xinde), and investigate this charge. I really hope it’s not true.