China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 1975 - History - 474 pages
5 Reviews
A work unique in the sweep of its design and scope, intended expressly for the general reader interested in human history and culture, this is a vivid panoramic survey of the vast course of Chinese civilization from prehistory to 1850, when the old China began the agonizing transition to the new. Historical surveys of China tend to be dynasty-by-dynasty chronicles with a profusion of names and dates and occaisional cultural tidbits, or to concentrate on the period from earliest times to the Han dynasty (or the T'ang), giving only scant coverage to the last thousand years. China's Imperial Past is different. Not only does it treat the three major periods of Chinese history at roughly equal length, weaving all their complexity into a balanced, integrated whole, but it gives ample space to China's magnificent literary and artistic achievements.

The author's approach is primarily interpretive, emphasizing patterns of change and development rather than factual details, but he never loses sight of the particularities that made traditional Chinese civilization one of the richest in human history. Especially notable are the many translations of Chinese poetry, among them more than twenty exquisite poems from the great poets of the T'ang.

The author divides Chinese history into three major epochs: a formative age, from high antiquity to the unification of China under the Ch'in in the third century B.C.; an early imperial age, from the Han dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220) through the T'ang (618-907) and its breakdown; and a later imperial age, from the Sung dynasty (960-1279) to the mid-nineteenth century. Each major epoch is considered in topical chapters—on general history, political institutions, socioeconomic organization, religion and thought, and literature and the arts. A brief Epilogue comments on aspects of Chinese history since 1850.

The book includes 47 plates, eight maps, and various charts, and as appendixes and unusually detailed chronological table, notes on the Chines language, and suggestions for supplementary reading.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
3
4 stars
1
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - neurodrew - LibraryThing

This detailed summary of Chinese history and culture seems to be a standard in the field, since I see it frequently when browsing in the Asian history section of bookstores. It is difficult to ... Read full review

Review: China s Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture

User Review  - Mark - Goodreads

A tremendous overview of Chinese history. One of the best collections of information on the Chinese Empires that I've read. Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
The Land and the People 1 Some Basic Continuities
10
GENERAL HISTORY
21
Z STATE AND SOCIETY
48
THOUGHT
69
LITERATURE AND ART
96
GENERAL HISTORY
121
GOVERNMENT
149
The Later Empire 9601850
265
GOVERNMENT
303
SOCIETY AND THE ECONOMY
329
THOUGHT
357
LITERATURE AND ART
385
EPILOGUE
427
APPENDIXES
434
Suggested Additional Readings
440

THOUGHT
193
LITERATURE AND ART
221

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

Bibliographic information