Old Myth into New History: The Building Blocks of Liang Qichao's "New History"

Old Myth into New History: The Building Blocks of Liang Qichao's "New History" © Koninklijke Brill NV. Leiden 2003 Historiography East & West 1:2 Old Myth into New History: The Building Blocks of Liang Qichao’s “New History” Peter Zarrow Institute for Modern History Academia Sinica, Taiwan Keywords: Chinese historiography; Liang Qichao; late Qing; evolutionism; sage-kings; nation. Abstract: In the first years of the twentieth century, the prominent radical intellectual Liang Qichao argued that China needed a “new history” that would consti- tute a history of the “nation” rather than court annals. This history would be evolutionary, and Liang rooted the origins of the Chinese people in the ancient myths of sage-kings. Liang mapped stages of progress (from primitive tribal forms of social organization to feudal-aristocratic to the centralized monarchy) onto Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), Yao-Shun, and Yu. Both the “three ages” theory of the New Text school and social Darwinism provided Liang with a universal framework for explaining the course of Chinese history, but he faced difficulties in explaining why Chinese and European history were different. Liang’s attitudes toward the Qin unification were particularly ambivalent: on the one hand it represented a progressive step at the time but Old Myth into New History 205 on the other it prevented later http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Historiography East and West Brill

Old Myth into New History: The Building Blocks of Liang Qichao's "New History"

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Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV. Leiden 2003 Historiography East & West 1:2 Old Myth into New History: The Building Blocks of Liang Qichao’s “New History” Peter Zarrow Institute for Modern History Academia Sinica, Taiwan Keywords: Chinese historiography; Liang Qichao; late Qing; evolutionism; sage-kings; nation. Abstract: In the first years of the twentieth century, the prominent radical intellectual Liang Qichao argued that China needed a “new history” that would consti- tute a history of the “nation” rather than court annals. This history would be evolutionary, and Liang rooted the origins of the Chinese people in the ancient myths of sage-kings. Liang mapped stages of progress (from primitive tribal forms of social organization to feudal-aristocratic to the centralized monarchy) onto Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), Yao-Shun, and Yu. Both the “three ages” theory of the New Text school and social Darwinism provided Liang with a universal framework for explaining the course of Chinese history, but he faced difficulties in explaining why Chinese and European history were different. Liang’s attitudes toward the Qin unification were particularly ambivalent: on the one hand it represented a progressive step at the time but Old Myth into New History 205 on the other it prevented later

Journal

Historiography East and WestBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2003

Keywords: LIANG QICHAO; CHINESE HISTORIOGRAPHY; LATE QING; SAGE-KINGS; EVOLUTIONISM; NATION

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