The Other Greek

An Introduction to Chinese and Japanese Characters, Their History and Influence

In The Other Greek, Arthur Cooper offers a captivating and unorthodox introduction to the world of the Chinese script through the medium of poetry, explaining the structure, meaning and cultural significance of each character. Written nearly half a century ago, and now published posthumously, the book argues that the role of Chinese writing was analogous to the influence of Greek civilization on Western culture. Chinese is the Greek of the Far East, ‘the other Greek’! Originally a cryptanalyst, Cooper uses his professional—and distinctly non-academic—training to analyse Chinese characters and points out a series of unacknowledged associations between them. Ultimately, he aims to initiate the reader with no prior knowledge of the language into Chinese writing and poetry.

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Arthur Cooper (1916-1988) is primarily known to students of Chinese for his translations of Tang poetry. By profession, he was a cryptanalyst who worked at Bletchley Park during and after WWII, decoding Japanese military and diplomatic messages. He had a deep interest in language and poetry, as a result of which he devoted the later half of his life to studying the structure of the Chinese script.

Imre Galambos, Ph.D. (2002), UC Berkeley, is University Lecturer in Chinese at the University of Cambridge. He specializes in Chinese manuscript culture, with a particular emphasis on Dunhuang. His work includes the book Manuscripts and Travellers (De Gruyter, 2012) and Translating Chinese Tradition and Teaching Tangut Culture (De Gruyter, 2015). He is also the translator of Rong Xinjiang's Eighteen Lectures on Dunhuang (Brill, 2013).
ForewordMichael Loewe List of Arthur Cooper’s Publications
Editor’s Introduction: Arthur Cooper and The Other GreekImre Galambos
Author’s Introduction
1 Etymology as the Principle of Chinese Writing
2 Introducing Chinese Characters
3 Deerpark Hermitage
4 River Snow: Part One—The Other Greek
5 River Snow: Part Two—Word-Building
6 River Snow: Part Three—Rhythm
7 Windows
8 Stars and Seething Pots
9 The Ballad of the Ancient Cypress
10 On Releasing a Wild Goose
11 Ware, Ware, Snares For Hares
12 “The Way”: Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu
13 When I was Green
14 Snow and Plum
15 Farewell to the God of Plagues
All interested in a cultural approach to Chinese poetry and Chinese characters. Although no prior language knowledge is assumed, it is equally useful for advanced students of traditional China.
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