From spirited youth to loyal official: Life writing and didacticism in the Jin Shu biography of Wang Dao

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper revisits traditional notions about the relationship between the Jin shu and earlier sources for the Eastern Jin period (317-420), notably the Shishuo xinyu, through an analysis of the Jin shu biography of Wang Dao (276-339), the era's most powerful minister. Although scholars have long deemed the Jin shu a derivative work that uncritically drew upon the Shishuo xinyu and other texts of the period, I demonstrate how the authors of the Jin shu judiciously selected features from earlier sources to produce a portrait of their subject that was grounded in the terms and concerns of early Tang historiography. The careful curation of this material by Tang historians underlines the narrow criteria for selecting material to include in accounts of the period and demonstrates how biographies in the Jin shu were conceived and organized according to the emerging didactic and political functions of state-sanctioned historiography in the early Tang.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalEarly Medieval China
Volume2015
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Early Medieval China Group 2015.

Keywords

  • Biography
  • Historiography
  • Jin shu
  • Shishuo xinyu
  • Wang Dao

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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