Just a century ago, in 1843, Ralph Waldo Emerson read for the first time a complete translation of “The Four Books” of the Chinese classics, copying many sentences from them in his “Journals.” Many of these quota-tions reappear in his later “Works”—and almost every volume contained one or two illustrative sayings taken from the Chinese classics. The greater part of these entries in his journals are in an appreciative tone, and his quotations from them in the “Essays” are mostly used to confirm his own beliefs.

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