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Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man (edition 2008)
Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man by Jonathan D. Spence
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670063576, Hardcover)A renowned historian captures a critical moment in Chinese history
Zhang Dai is recognized as one of the finest historians and essayists of China's Ming dynasty. When he was born into a wealthy family in 1597, the Ming dynasty had been in place for 229 years. Zhang's early life was marked by the expansive sense of progress that permeated Ming culture: the flourishing of reformist schools of Buddhism; wide-scale philanthropy; the education of women; a celebration of the visual arts, writing, and music; intellectual pursuit of medicine and science?this was truly a time of cultural creativity and renaissance in China.
When the Ming dynasty was overthrown in the Manchu invasion of 1644, Zhang Dai's family lost their fortune and their way of life. Zhang Dai fled to the countryside, where, as a writer of tremendous skill, acuity, and passion, he spent his final forty years recounting his previous life as a way of leaving a legacy to his children and rebuilding a spirit shattered by the violent upheaval he had witnessed.
Celebrated China scholar Jonathan Spence has pored over Zhang Dai's extraordinary documents and vividly brings to life seventeenth-century China. This absorbing book illuminates a culture's transformation and reveals how China's history affects its place in the world today.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:56 -0400)
"In 1646, when he was forty-nine years old, Zhang Dai lost almost everything. His beautiful lakeside villa in Hangzhou, his spacious home in Shaoxing, his massive library, his paintings, the antiquities he had been collecting for decades were all destroyed by fire or lost in the looting that was a consequence of the murderous fighting that engulfed China after the Manchu invasion of 1644, which had brought down the mighty Ming empire.". "His life during the Ming period had been marked by the expansive sense of progress that permeated that culture: the flourishing of reformist schools of Buddhism; wide-scale philanthropy; the education of women; a celebration of the visual arts, writing, and music; intellectual pursuit of medicine and science - this was truly a time of cultural creativity in China, and Zhang Dai was an avid participant in many disciplines. But when the Ming dynasty was overthrown, Zhang's servants deserted him, his children scattered, his closest friend committed suicide. Abandoning his ravaged property, Zhang fled with his surviving family members to the hills south of Shaoxing, where they made a precarious living from farming. As he toiled, Zhang began, with patience and absolute concentration, to rebuild in his mind and in words the world that he had lost. This work of mental reconstruction occupied him for close to forty years, until he was almost ninety. And when it was done, he died.". "A passionately involved historian, a poet, a dramatist, an art connoisseur, a romantic dreamer, a travel writer, and a biographer who focused largely on his own family, Zhang was also politically engaged in some of the great issues of his time, and even served briefly in the court of the Ming princes. There he tried to bolster resistance to the inexorable advance of the conquering Manchu armies. His power springs from this absorbing mixture of interests and skills. And his range makes him a man for our time as well as for his own."--BOOK JACKET.
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