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 noticeable by way of those who lived via it. the writer Wang Renyu's grownup lifestyles coincided heavily with that interval, and his memoirs, notwithstanding in some way transmitted, might be principally recovered from encyclopaedia quotations. His adventure led from youth at the north-west border with Tibet, via carrier with the dominion of Shu, to a mainstream profession lower than 4 successive dynasties in northern China. He bore own witness to a couple nice occasions, but additionally travelled commonly and transcribed fabric from a life of conversations with colleagues within the imperial Hanlin Academy.

The research first units Wang's existence in its old context and discusses the character and cost of his memoirs. It then pursues a few underlying topics that run in the course of the collections, providing approximately eighty special goods in translation. jointly those provide a characterization of an age of inter-regional conflict within which person lives, no longer grand historic 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 provide the textual content of the author's tombstone epitaph; a close checklist of his surviving memoir goods; info 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 resources for A Portrait of Five Dynasties China: From the Memoirs of Wang Renyu (880-956)

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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.

89 The latter, using his position at the centre of China’s communications network, ran an opportunistic diplomatic policy which now brought him into dealings with the Later Jin. 858), where ‘an ambassador’ is sent with a hundred horses as a gift to Gao from the Jin emperor Gao zu. Four of Wang’s memoirs refer to this region (45, 80, 111, 143), one (80) making direct mention of the commissioner. 91 Memoir 164 mentions an appointment as Director of the Bureau of Honours (rank 5b1) in the early 940s, not found in other sources.

Travellers move along it with slow steps, like the Confucian scholar’s ritual paces. The topmost summits are called Lone Cloud and Twin Horns, and there is a local saying which goes, ‘Lone Cloud and Twin Horns: one grasp away from the sky’. A temple dedicated to the Marquis of Huaiyin 淮陰侯 is at that spot. 66 He reached this mountain, and for that reason a memorial temple has been built there. 67 When we went south on a campaign against the men in Ba [zhou], we climbed up here on the way there and back.

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