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For those interested in Mongolian language, history, and culture, this is a landmark publication.
It is the culmination of thirty-five years of research by a specialist in Sino-Mongolian studies at theAustralian National University in Canberra, a scholar of extraordinary abilities and remarkable persistence in pursuing his investigations of an extremely important but problematic text.The thirteenth-century text known as the Secret History of the Mongols {Mongyol-un niyuca tobciyan, Ch. Yiian ch 'ao pi-shih; hereinafter "SH") is the longest early record of the Mongolian language, and quite correctly called by de Rachewiltz (p.
The work is, despite a certain amount of Turkic influence, "a true and original Mongol product, unique of its kind: for no other nomadic or semi-nomadic people has ever created a literary masterpiece like it, in which epic poetry and narrative are so skillfully and indeed artistically blended with fictional and historicalaccounts" (p. Each word and suffixal morpheme was given an independent gloss, and each of the 282 "sections" into which the text is arbitrarily divided was provided with a free translation into Chinese. Spacing between transcription characters originally represented a sort of punctuation, but this was largely lost during copying of the text.
Ixv) that the Chinese transcription "gives us only the phonetic representation of how the Ming transcribers read the then-extant manuscript of the SecretHistory in Uighur script in the second half of the 14th century," but "does not reflect the spoken language at the time Of composition." Further, the lexicon and grammar of this early Middle Mongolianinevitably differ somewhat from later, better documented stages of the language. In addition to sections dealing with the contents of the SH, the place and date of its composition, and its possibleauthorship, there is discussion of previous transcriptions, translations, and editions of the text, as well as brief remarks on recent scholarly research.
But slight differences between the two make it clear that de Rachewiltz has spent considerable time rethinking and polishing his earlier translation, section by section and sentence by sentence. One regrets only that the Mongolian text is not printed on pages facing the translation, as in volumes of the Loeb Classical Library; but clearly that would have made the entire work simply too complex and expensive to print.
As it is, we must make do with the text in de Rachewiltz's 1972 Index to the Secret History of the Mongols, as corrected on pp.



We still need a full critical edition of the SH text, incorporating variant readings from all pertinent manuscripts and parallel texts, and all the emendations suggested by scholars over the years. 413-14 for the addition of ja'ura 'between' in one line, on the basis of the Altan Tobci), but these are nowhere indexed as such. The historical and philological commentary is comprehensive and wide-ranging, indeed sometimes overwhelming in its breadth and detail. In effect it summarizes more than a century of researchby dozens of scholars, writing in at least eleven different languages. The SH contains many hapax legomena, questionable transcriptions, and problematic lexical items; the author discusses each, with exhaustive citation of the pertinent scholarly literature. For example, discussion of the rare word biitiln 'one's own, proper' in A§200 takes up nearly two pages, with some thirty-six references to seventeen sources in seven languages (pp. The social, cultural, and historical contexts of events reflected in the text are pursued with similar vigor. The phrase caqa'an singyor 'white gerfalcon' in A§63, for example, elicits (with regard to "white as an auspicious color, and white animals in general") no fewer than twenty-three bibliographical references (p. Further, it is most helpful to be able to find manyof the SH's place names on the fold-out map following p. Throughout the commentary, the author's wide reading (especially in Chinese sources) has allowed him to suggest well-reasoned andsometimes novel solutions to many of the problems in the text.The bibliography contains well over a thousand items.
Ha his translation); and monographs are given in all-caps letter-sequence reflecting their title {GWM is Nicholas Poppe's Grammar of Written Mongolian).


All this can be a bit confusing for the reader at first, especially since all-caps sequences are also used for periodicals, collections and reference works, which are separately alphabetized: UAJ = Ural-Altaische Jahrbiicher, MS = either Monumenta Serica(p. In practice, however, the system works quite well.When it comes to the indexes, we find that de Rachewiltz has once again pulled out all the stops. Entries for the name Ong Qan and the text Yiian-shih, for example, each occupy a column and a half of small type; one for chronology twice that amount.
If the reader is curious about the phrase epic chronicle in de Rachewiltz's title, an entry in the subject index (p. In 1954 Professor Francis Cleaves of Harvard lent to me, then a mere graduate student at Yale, page proofs for a portion of his new translation of the SH, a translation that was to be followed by a volume of commentary. Now at least our hopes have been realized in the present publication, and we can see the full fruits of twentieth-century research on this fascinating and difficult text. These volumes will surely remain the standard work onthe Secret History of the Mongols for decades to come.JOHN C.




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