A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang by Glen Dudbridge

By Glen Dudbridge

The anecdotal literature of late-medieval China isn't unknown, however it is under-used. Glen Dudbridge explores collections of anecdotal memoirs to build an intimate portrait of the 1st half the 10th century as visible via those that lived via it. the writer Wang Renyu's grownup existence coincided heavily with that interval, and his memoirs, notwithstanding indirectly transmitted, could be mostly recovered from encyclopaedia quotations. His event led from adolescence at the north-west border with Tibet, via carrier with the dominion of Shu, to a mainstream profession less than 4 successive dynasties in northern China. He bore own witness to a few nice occasions, but in addition travelled largely and transcribed fabric from a life of conversations with colleagues within the imperial Hanlin Academy.

The learn first units Wang's existence in its old context and discusses the character and cost of his memoirs. It then pursues a few underlying subject matters that run throughout the collections, proposing approximately eighty unique goods in translation. jointly those provide a characterization of an age of inter-regional war during which person lives, no longer grand historic narrative, shape the point of interest. A nuanced self-portrait of the writer emerges, combining beneficial properties that appear alien to trendy values with others that appear extra familiar.

Four appendixes supply the textual content of the author's tombstone epitaph; a close 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)

Example text

Wang gathered the material in 926 as a member of the captured official corps of the Former Shu. While the military coup in progress in Luoyang kept them detained in the former Chang’an, he had an opportunity to probe the memories of local people for traditions reaching back two hundred years. 119 The memoir collections Yu tang xian hua and Wang shi jian wen lu are there for us to read now only because, under the oversight of Li Fang, they 115 See the data gathered in Appendix C. See Appendix C for details.

Upon which he put the Qiyang 岐陽 emissary to death75 and rushed to the posting station to submit a memorial of loyal rectitude and upright sentiment. All who heard of this judged him to be high-minded. His loyalty was rewarded with the command of a punitive force sent against Li Congke. Their assault began on 30 April 934. On 2 May the Prince of Lu, hard-pressed, used a combination of battlefield eloquence and material rewards to induce the attacking armies to join his cause. On 3 May Wang Sitong fled back to the Western Capital, where the gates were closed to him.

Under the Tang Hanlin appointments were made mostly from among degree-holders, but with the Five Dynasties this changed, bringing in more appointments by personal recommendation from the private staff of powerful men. It was usual for Hanlin Scholars to hold concurrent positions in the main bureaucracy, and under the Five Dynasties that included the Ministry of Rites (Li bu 禮部), enabling them to supervise examinations. The Scholars had close access to ministerial rank, and those with the senior status of Hanlin Scholar with Imperial Remit (Hanlin xue shi cheng zhi 翰林學士承 旨) closer access still.

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