By Glen Dudbridge
The anecdotal literature of late-medieval China isn't really unknown, however it is under-used. Glen Dudbridge explores collections of anecdotal memoirs to build an intimate portrait of the 1st 1/2 the 10th century as obvious by way of those who lived via it. the writer Wang Renyu's grownup existence coincided heavily with that interval, and his memoirs, even though indirectly transmitted, should be mostly recovered from encyclopaedia quotations. His adventure led from youth at the north-west border with Tibet, via provider with the dominion of Shu, to a mainstream occupation lower than 4 successive dynasties in northern China. He bore own witness to a couple nice occasions, but additionally travelled broadly and transcribed fabric from a life of conversations with colleagues within the imperial Hanlin Academy.
The examine first units Wang's lifestyles in its old context and discusses the character and price of his memoirs. It then pursues a couple of underlying issues that run during the collections, providing approximately eighty targeted goods in translation. jointly those provide a characterization of an age of inter-regional conflict during which person lives, no longer grand ancient narrative, shape the focal point. A nuanced self-portrait of the writer emerges, combining good points that appear alien to trendy values with others that appear extra familiar.
Four appendixes supply the textual content of the author's tombstone epitaph; an in depth checklist of his surviving memoir goods; information from track catalogues at the early transmission of his writings; and Wang Renyu's personal definition of the 4 musical modes inherited from the Tang dynasty.
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Extra info for A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956)
Dazhu 大竹 was a county established by the Tang68 and named for the stands of tall bamboo which grew there (it is now a county in eastern Sichuan). The 66 Hanzhong, then Nanzheng 南鄭, had been the base of Liu Bang 劉邦, the future ﬁrst emperor of Han, during the wars with Xiang Liang 項梁 and Xiang Yu 項羽 and before his move east to claim the empire. It was when approaching this place from the south that his famous strategist Han Xin 韓信 (Marquis of Huaiyin), having just defected from the Chu 楚 army and thrown in his lot with the Han, then deserted again in disappointment at poor recognition.
There are clear signs that in the years from 948 onward, Wang was writing up his memoirs. Some, written retrospectively, identify the time of writing: 47 (950), 120 (950), 121 (948–50), 147 (948 or later), 165 (947–8), 192 (early 950s). Some deal directly with very recent events: 21 (948–9), 23 (947 or later), 77 (949), 94 (951–94), 110 (947–50), 154 (949), 165 (947–8). 9384. 8799–801; biographical notice by Jack L. ), Song biographies (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1976), 1131–7. 9135–40; notice by John W.
1076. The epitaph gives this appointment as ‘Left Grand Master of Remonstrance’. 94 The bland sequence of important ofﬁces of state masks dismal scenes in north China through those years of the early 940s. Wang’s epitaph puts it grimly: Towards the end of the Jin dynasty powerful ofﬁcials took control, and dynastic governance was shared among many. There was a succession of poor harvests, as well as incessant warfare. Territory and land were forcibly occupied by regional warlords, while neither ritual/musical leadership nor military action came forth from the Emperor.