Posted on 12. Feb, 2009 by Komjathy in Review
WESTLICHE TAOISMUS-BIBLIOGRAPHIE (WTB)/WESTERN BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TAOISM. By Knut Walf. Essen, Germany: Verlag Die Blaue Eule, 2003. 5th rev. ed. Pp. 209. Paper, €24.00, ISBN 3-89924-020-0.
First published in 1986, this book is the fifth, revised edition of Knut Walf’s (University of Nijmegen, Netherlands) Westliche Taoismus-Bibliographie and contains approximately 2100 entries. It is the most up-to-date bibliography of Western book-length publications on Daoism. It supplements and expands previous Western-language bibliographies, including Michel Soymé and F. Litsch “Bibliographie du tao¬isme: Etudes dans les langues occidentales” (1967; 1971); Donna Au and Sharon Rowe’s “Bibliography of Taoist Studies” (1977); Julian Pas’ A Select Bibliography of Taoism (1988; revised 1997); Anna Seidel’s “Chronicle of Taoist Studies in the West 1950-1990” (1990); Franciscus Verellen’s “Taoism” (1995); Fabrizio Pregadio’s “Chinese Alchemy: An Annotated Bibliography of Works in Western Languages” (1996); and Louis Komjathy’s “Daoist Texts in Translation” (2003) (see 206-8; also Title Index to Daoist Collections [Three Pines Press, 2002], 14-15). The book divides into five sections: (1) Daode jing (11-48; 430 entries); (2) Zhuangzi (49-57; 81 entries); (3) Weitere Daoistische Texte/Further Daoist Texts (58-68; 100 entries); (4) Darstellungen-Sekundärliteratur/Secondary Literature (69-205; 1448 entries); (5) Bibliographien/Bibliographies (206-8; 31 entries).
There are three primary advantages and noteworthy contributions of WTB. First, it is the most up-to-date bibliography of Western book-length publications on Daoism. Second, it catalogues works in less “conventional” Western languages such as Czech, Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and so forth. Finally, it includes popular publications of “Western Daoism.” Some of these include books by Charles Belyea (now Liu Ming) and Steven Tainer (74), John Blofeld (76), Mantak Chia (88-90), Ni Hua-ching (157-60), Stuart Olson (161), Alan Watts (195), Eva Wong (199-200), and so forth. Although WTB does not provide a full bibliographical documentation of “Western Daoist literature,” it does represent one important beginning. WTB also has a number of disadvantages. It only catalogues book-length publications. Journal articles, probably the most prolific, diverse and important sources for secondary scholarship on Daoism, are not documented. Some relevant publications include Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, History of Religions, Journal of Chinese Religions, Monumenta Serica, T’oung Pao, and so forth. In addition, Walf only catalogues some Ph.D. dissertations. (For a more complete catalogue see http://www.daoiststudies.org/phds.php).
Finally, there are some strange choices for inclusion, including The Blue Cliff Record (59, 64), Two Zen Classics (61), The Art of War (65), The Rhetoric of Immediacy (107), Chan Insights and Oversights (107), and so forth. Such inclusion hints at an unstated assumption that the Chan/Zen Buddhist tradition is somehow intricately connected with Daoism and Daoist Studies. As almost any reference work of this kind is bound to have deficiencies and idiosyncratic choices, the above disadvantages are outweighed by the advantages. A more serious issue is Walf’s organizational typology. Using the primary division of Daode jing/Zhuangzi and “Further Daoist Texts” presupposes an outdated interpretative framework based on a “philosophical Daoism”/“religious Daoism” dichotomy. Such bibliographical ordering once again privileges classical Daoist texts over the scriptures of organized Daoist sub-traditions. This division is obviously based more in convenience and lack of familiarity, but it does lead to the unjustified perpetuation of the Daode jing and Zhuangzi as the “most representative” Daoist texts, in contrast to “further” or “other” Daoist texts. (For a more complete catalogue of Daoist texts in translation see http://www.daoistcenter.org/articles.htm). A more detailed and helpful organizational typology, utilized in the bibliographies of Anna Seidel and Julian Pas for example, would employ a topical and tradition-based categorical system for both primary texts in translation and secondary scholarship.
It is to be hoped that the next phase of bibliographical cataloguing will be a collaborative online, searchable and updatable bibliography of international scholarship, including non-Western publications. One can imagine a topical and tradition-based annotated bibliography edited by scholars from each major language-family. The Daoist Studies Website (http://www.daoiststudies.org) would be an ideal choice for such a project. Until such a project is initiated and completed, Walf’s bibliography will prove useful for scholars and students of the Daoist tradition. Research libraries with Daoist collections should acquire the book.
Louis Komjathy Pacific Lutheran University December 2, 2004