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Ian Johnston


Ian Johnston is a linguist, translator and former neurosurgeon.

In 1999, Ian Johnston retired from his work as a neurosurgeon in Sydney where he had spent the previous 25 years. He moved to South Bruny Island to live a life of relative seclusion and to devote himself to his several non-medical interests – in particular, to indulge his lifelong passion for ancient languages. Much of his time is now spent in translation. In Chinese, his focus is on philosophy and poetry. He has published two books of translation of early Chinese poetry.

Both have been illustrated by Susan Collis; the earlier one (Singing of Scented Grass) together with the two other members of the now sadly defunct Forest of Brushes school of Chan painting, and the later one (Waiting for the Owl) alone. In philosophy, he has published a complete translation of the seminal ancient text, The Mozi, and in collaboration with the Chinese academic, Wang Ping, has translated two early Confucian texts (Using the Centre and The Highest Learning) to be published early next year.

His translations from Classical Greek focus on medicine and ancient science, and especially on the work of Galen. His translations of four Galenic works on the theoretical foundations of medicine were published in 2006. A translation of Galen’s therapeutic magnum opus, The Method of Medicine, will be published next year as part of the Loeb Classical Library.

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