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 means of those that lived via it. the writer Wang Renyu's grownup existence coincided heavily with that interval, and his memoirs, although in a roundabout way transmitted, may be mostly recovered from encyclopaedia quotations. His event led from formative years at the north-west border with Tibet, via carrier with the dominion of Shu, to a mainstream occupation below 4 successive dynasties in northern China. He bore own witness to a couple nice occasions, but in addition travelled extensively and transcribed fabric from a life of conversations with colleagues within the imperial Hanlin Academy.
The examine first units Wang's lifestyles in its historic context and discusses the character and price of his memoirs. It then pursues a couple of underlying issues that run during the collections, offering approximately eighty exact goods in translation. jointly those provide a characterization of an age of inter-regional war during which person lives, now not grand ancient narrative, shape the point of interest. A nuanced self-portrait of the writer emerges, combining positive factors that appear alien to trendy values with others that appear extra familiar.
Four appendixes provide the textual content of the author's tombstone epitaph; a close record 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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Additional resources for A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956)
128 See Chapter 6, notes 3, 17, 47. 129 See n. 122, this chapter. 130 Historical value ultimately lies in the mind of the historian, whose choice and use of sources will reﬂect the focus and priorities of his own enterprise. Wang’s memoirs have had to wait for more recent times to ﬁnd an audience attuned to their distinctive voice. That audience is found chieﬂy among academics in southern Gansu province, for whom Wang Renyu is an eminent ﬁgure from their regional past. 131 Alongside a more open-minded interest in historical data, this new generation of scholars in southern Gansu still dwells with some concern upon questions of generic classiﬁcation and literary judgement.
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.
One of these gives some taste of the work they did:  South from Xingyuan runs the Dazhu Road 大竹路, which connects to Ba zhou 巴州. This road is all deep streams and steep cliffs. By dint of gripping creepers and handling rocks, with a climb lasting three days, you can reach a mountain summit. When travellers overnight there they sleep with a rope of vines tied to their waist and coiled around a tree, for otherwise they would fall into a deep torrent, like plunging into the Yellow Springs [of the underworld].
A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956) by Glen Dudbridge