The Art of War

Sun Tzu
The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at
Title: The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Translator: Lionel Giles
Release Date: May 1994 [eBook #132] [Most recently updated
December 28, 2005]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)
OF WAR ***
Note: Please see Project Gutenberg's eBook #17405 for a version of
this eBook without the Giles commentary (that is, with only the Sun
Tzu text).


Translated from the Chinese with Introduction and Critical Notes
Assistant in the Department of Oriental Printed Books and MSS. in the
British Museum
First Published in 1910
To my brother Captain Valentine Giles, R.G. in the hope that a work
2400 years old may yet contain lessons worth consideration by the
soldier of today this translation is affectionately dedicated.
Preface to the Project Gutenburg Etext --------------------------------------
When Lionel Giles began his translation of Sun Tzu's ART OF WAR,
the work was virtually unknown in Europe. Its introduction to Europe
began in 1782 when a French Jesuit Father living in China, Joseph
Amiot, acquired a copy of it, and translated it into French. It was not a
good translation because, according to Dr. Giles, "[I]t contains a great
deal that Sun Tzu did not write, and very little indeed of what he did."
The first translation into English was published in 1905 in Tokyo by
Capt. E. F. Calthrop, R.F.A. However, this translation is, in the words
of Dr. Giles, "excessively bad." He goes further in this criticism: "It is
not merely a question of downright blunders, from which none can
hope to be wholly exempt. Omissions were frequent; hard passages
were willfully distorted or slurred over. Such offenses are less
pardonable. They would not be tolerated in any edition of a Latin or
Greek classic, and a similar standard of honesty ought to be insisted
upon in translations from Chinese." In 1908 a new edition of Capt.

Calthrop's translation was published in London. It was an improvement
on the first -- omissions filled up and numerous mistakes corrected --
but new errors were created in the process. Dr. Giles, in justifying his
translation, wrote: "It was not undertaken out of any inflated estimate
of my own powers; but I could not help feeling that Sun Tzu deserved a
better fate than had befallen him, and I knew that, at any rate, I could
hardly fail to improve on the work of my predecessors." Clearly, Dr.
Giles' work established much of the groundwork for the work of later
translators who published their own editions. Of the later editions of the
ART OF WAR I have examined; two feature Giles' edited translation
and notes, the other two present the same basic information from the
ancient Chinese commentators found in the Giles edition. Of these four,
Giles' 1910 edition is the most scholarly and presents the reader an
incredible amount of information concerning Sun Tzu's text, much
more than any other translation. The Giles' edition of the ART OF
WAR, as stated above, was a scholarly work. Dr. Giles was a leading
sinologue at the time and an assistant in the Department of Oriental
Printed Books and Manuscripts in the British Museum. Apparently he
wanted to produce a definitive edition, superior to anything else that
existed and perhaps something that would become a standard
translation. It was the best translation available for 50 years. But
apparently there was not much interest in Sun Tzu in English- speaking
countries since it took the start of the Second World War to renew
interest in his work. Several people published unsatisfactory English
translations of Sun Tzu. In 1944, Dr. Giles' translation was edited and
published in the United States in a series of military science books. But
it wasn't until 1963 that a good English translation (by Samuel B.
Griffith and still in print) was published that was an equal to Giles'
translation. While this translation is more lucid than Dr. Giles'
translation, it lacks his copious notes that make his so interesting. Dr.
Giles produced a work primarily intended for scholars of the Chinese
civilization and language. It contains the Chinese text of Sun Tzu, the
English translation, and voluminous notes along with numerous
footnotes. Unfortunately, some of his notes and footnotes contain
Chinese characters; some are completely Chinese. Thus, a conversion
to a Latin alphabet etext
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 72
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.