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Chinese Autobiographical Writing: An Anthology of Personal Accounts

Posted: February 11th, 2023 | No Comments »

Chinese Autobiographical Writing: An Anthology of Personal Accounts, edited by Patricia Buckley Ebrey is professor emeritus of history at the University of Washington. Her many books include The Cambridge Illustrated History of China and Emperor Huizong. Cong Ellen Zhang is professor of history at the University of Virginia. She is author of Transformative Journeys: Travel and Culture in Song China and Performing Filial Piety in Northern Song China: Family, State, and Native Place. Ping Yao is professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles. She is author of Women, Gender and Sexuality in China: A Brief History. Together, they are the editors of Chinese Funerary Biographies: An Anthology of Remembered Lives.

Personal accounts help us understand notions of self, interpersonal relations, and historical events. Chinese Autobiographical Writing contains full translations of works by fifty individuals that illuminate the history and conventions of writing about oneself in the Chinese tradition. From poetry, letters, and diaries to statements in legal proceedings, these engaging and readable works draw us into the past and provide vivid details of life as it was lived from the pre-imperial period to the nineteenth century. Some focus on a person’s entire life, others on a specific moment. Some have an element of humor, others are entirely serious. Taken together, these selections offer an intimate view of how Chinese men and women, both famous and obscure, reflected on their experiences as well as their personal struggles and innermost thoughts.

With an introduction and list of additional readings for each selection, this volume is ideal for undergraduate courses on Chinese history, literature, religion, and women and family. Read individually, each piece illuminates a person, place, and moment. Read in chronological order, they highlight cultural change over time by showing how people explored new ways to represent themselves in writing.

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