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One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China by Anna M. Shields (review)

One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China by Anna M. Shields (review) 288 China Review International: Vol. 21, Nos. 3 & 4, 2014 manifested and dramatized against a backdrop of "aestheticized violence." Mediation through art -- and by extension, literature -- is shown to be deeply problematic and yet indispensable in terms of historical memory. At the same time, following through with the logic of blame and focusing on Chen Yuanyuan, who is transformed from femme fatale to victim to poet-historian through the many versions of her story, the chapter offers a nuanced understanding of historical judgment, directing our attention away from the simple content of the judgment (whether Chen is culpable for the fall of the Ming) to the functions and conditions of a given judgment (what social and psychological needs a particular judgment may serve). For a volume of considerable heft and density, this book is nonetheless a real pleasure to read, for its rich tapestry of a dramatic time and storied characters, for the multitude of fascinating tales and their still more fascinating transformations, for the layers of real and imagined figures speaking to one another, and not the least for the precise, fluid, and sometimes brilliant translations of original literature (one quick example: as "drenched in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

One Who Knows Me: Friendship and Literary Culture in Mid-Tang China by Anna M. Shields (review)

China Review International , Volume 21 (3) – Jan 23, 2014

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9367
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Abstract

288 China Review International: Vol. 21, Nos. 3 & 4, 2014 manifested and dramatized against a backdrop of "aestheticized violence." Mediation through art -- and by extension, literature -- is shown to be deeply problematic and yet indispensable in terms of historical memory. At the same time, following through with the logic of blame and focusing on Chen Yuanyuan, who is transformed from femme fatale to victim to poet-historian through the many versions of her story, the chapter offers a nuanced understanding of historical judgment, directing our attention away from the simple content of the judgment (whether Chen is culpable for the fall of the Ming) to the functions and conditions of a given judgment (what social and psychological needs a particular judgment may serve). For a volume of considerable heft and density, this book is nonetheless a real pleasure to read, for its rich tapestry of a dramatic time and storied characters, for the multitude of fascinating tales and their still more fascinating transformations, for the layers of real and imagined figures speaking to one another, and not the least for the precise, fluid, and sometimes brilliant translations of original literature (one quick example: as "drenched in

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 23, 2014

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