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Guanzi (Kuan Tzu): The Book of Master Guan

The Guanzi (Book of Master Guan), which bears the name of a famous minister of the state of Qi, Guan Zhong (d. 645 B.C.E.), is a large collection of early Chinese materials put together from various sources by Liu Xiang (77-6 B.C.E.) about 26 B.C.E. All of our present editions list eighty-six titled chapters (pian), grouped into twenty-four books (juan). Ten of the eighty-six chapters have been lost; two chapters-8 and 9-are duplicates except for a rearrangement of their subsections; and two or three others appear to be later substitutes for chapters that had been lost. Some chapters are made up of short fragments of varying origin or different versions of the same material, and four of the surviving seventy-six chapters consist of jie or line-by-line explanations of other chapters. The text is also divided into eight named sections, beginning with Jing yan (“Canonical Statements”) and ending with Qing zhong (“Light and Heavy”), which deals primarily with economic theory. The origin and true significance of this grouping into sections is not known, but it may be related to the way the material entered the collection. Jing yan is generally considered to represent the earliest portion of the text; however, that is doubtful in the case of some chapters, especially 8 and 9.