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Saturday, January 22, 2005

China, Period of division

The most extensive modern account of the period of division is that found in the general history by Franke cited above, vol. 2, with copious notes in vol. 3; this is a traditional chronological history, which pays little attention to nonpolitical matters and absolutely none to modern historical writing on the period in Chinese and Japanese. Other works on this important period include Wolfram Eberhard, Das Toba-Reich Nordchinas: eine soziologische Untersuchung (1949), a Western-language study on the T'o-pa Wei—controversial and interesting but highly technical; W.J.F. Jenner, Memories of Loyang (1981), a political history of the Wei dynasty during the Pei-ch'ao (Northern Dynasties) period; Étienne Balazs, “Les Courants intellectuels en Chine au IIIe siècle de notre ère,” Études Asiatiques, vol. 2 (1948), the best Western-language study on the rise of “Neo-Taoism” and other schools of thought after the breakdown of the Han Empire; Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion (1983; originally published in French, 1950), a collection of essays dealing mainly with T'ang dynasty Taoism, still the most important general survey of the Taoist religion of this period, written mainly in the 1930s and '40s by a great authority for the general public; Holmes Welch, Taoism: The Parting of the Way, rev. ed. (1965), a general history of the Taoist movement with about one-third of the book devoted to the development of Taoist religion in the Six Dynasties period; Michel Strickmann, Le Taoïsme du Mao Chan: chronique d'une révélation (1981), a scholarly account of one of the main schools of medieval Taoism; Arthur F. Wright, Buddhism in Chinese History (1959, reprinted 1971), a popular but authoritative survey of Chinese Buddhism as a whole, two chapters of which are devoted to the Six Dynasties period; Kenneth K.S. Chen, Buddhism in China (1964, reprinted 1972), an extensive history of Chinese Buddhism by an eminent specialist; Erik Zürcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China, 2 vol. (1959, reprinted 1972), a detailed, rather technical study of the formation of gentry Buddhism; and Jacques Gernet, Les Aspects économiques du bouddhisme dans la société chinoise du Ve au Xe siècle (1956), an indispensable but rather technical work on the economic functions of the Buddhist monasteries from the 5th to the 10th century.

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