Master Work of Chinese Historiography by 司马迁.
Pan Ku's celebrated and influential History of the Former Han has
been a model for dynastic history since its appearance in the first
century A.D. The narrative is rich in detail and characterized by purity
and economy of style. Covering the period from 206 B.C. to A.D. 23, the
work consists of annals, chronological tables, treatises, and
biographies, the last of which often include excepts from writings by
the subjects of the biographies. Burton Watson has translated ten
chapters from the biography section, including the lives of imperial
princes, generals, officials, and some lesser figures: a court jester,
wandering knights, court ladies, and concubines. All the chapters have
been selected for their literary interest and their influence on Chinese
literature and culture.