Review: Shchutskii’s Researches on the I Ching

Researches on the I Ching

Iulian Shchutskii
Translated by William MacDonald, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, with Hellmut Wilhelm, and introductions by Gerald Swanson and N.I. Konrad, and N.A. Petrov
Princeton University Press,  2017
paper, 324 pages
ISBN 978-0691605999

Iulian Shchutskii’s groundbreaking  Researches on the I Ching remains an inspiring work for anybody with an interest in the Yijing’s history, traditions, structure, and significance. While some of Shchutskii’s conclusions may be outdated given subsequent research and archeological discoveries, it is nevertheless still a very valuable book, written in a very approachable style, with much significant information and analysis.

Researches on the I Ching was originally written as Shchutskii’s doctoral thesis, defended in 1937. It was posthumously published in Russian in 1960, and in English in 1979. It has been out of print for a number of years. The publishers of the original English edition, Princeton University Press, is reissuing it as part of its print-on-demand program for classic works.

Part One of the book includes Shchutskii’s own introduction, a chapter on Western studies on the Yi, and a chapter on Eastern studies. In Part Two, Shchutskii gives in-depth analysis of questions about the Yijing’s content, history, place in literature, structure, dating, differentiation of strata, and the range of traditional interpretation and influence.

Shchutskii was born in 1897; his life story gives a picture of a gifted scholar with a sense of humor who met with an untimely end in a Stalinist camp in the late 1930s. Researches on the I Ching has an extensive introduction to the English edition by Gerald Swanson, an introduction to the Russian edition by N.I. Konrad, and a biographical sketch of Shchutskii by his friend N.A. Petrov. These introductions are compelling and valuable in their own right.