Since its original publication in Chinese in the 1930s, this work has been accepted by Chinese scholars as the most important contribution to the study of their country's philosophy. In 1952 the book was published by Princeton University Press in an English translation by the distinguished scholar of Chinese history, Derk Bodde, "the dedicated translator of Fung Yu-lan's huge history of Chinese philosophy" ("New York Times Book Review"). Available for the first time in paperback, it remains the most complete work on the subject in any language.
Volume I covers the period of the philosophers, from the beginnings to around 100 B.C., a philosophical period as remarkable as that of ancient Greece. Volume II discusses a period lesser known in the West--the period of classical learning, from the second century B.C. to the twentieth century.