The Objectionable Li Zhi
Fiction, Criticism, and Dissent in Late Ming China
- PUBLISHED: January 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Literary Studies, Asian Studies / China, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 296 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 1 map
- ISBN: 9780295748382
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Iconoclastic scholar Li Zhi (1527–1602) was a central figure in the cultural world of the late Ming dynasty. His provocative and controversial words and actions shaped print culture, literary practice, attitudes toward gender, and perspectives on Buddhism and the afterlife. Although banned, his writings were never fully suppressed, because they tapped into issues of vital significance to generations of readers. His incisive remarks, along with the emotional intensity and rhetorical power with which he delivered them, made him an icon of his cultural moment and an emblem of early modern Chinese intellectual dissent.
In this volume, leading China scholars demonstrate the interrelatedness of seemingly discrete aspects of Li Zhi’s thought and emphasize his far-reaching impact on his contemporaries and successors. In doing so, they challenge the myth that there was no tradition of dissidence in premodern China.
The open access publication of this book was made possible by a grant from the James P. Geiss and Margaret Y. Hsu Foundation.
Authors & Contributors
Rivi Handler-Spitz is associate professor of Chinese language and literature at Macalester College. Pauline C. Lee is associate professor of Chinese religions and cultures at Saint Louis University. Haun Saussy is professor of comparative literature, social thought, and East Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. Handler-Spitz, Lee, and Saussy are coeditors and cotranslators of A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep [Hidden]: Selected Writings of Li Zhi. Contributors include Timothy Brook, Kai-wing Chow, Maram Epstein, Robert E. Hegel, Martin Huang, Wai-yee Li, Miaw-fen Lu, Ying Zhang, and Jiang Wu.
[A] book that answers questions many have asked themselves and raises new ones on the complexity of Li Zhi’s (1527-1602) personality and thought. This is the first volume in English that collects various studies done under different perspectives on this controversial Ming thinker.- Ming Qing Studies
[A] fascinating, multidisciplinary study of Li Zhi, a controversial, complex figure... a remarkable work- Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews
[O]ffers a worthy companion to the editors’ earlier volume of selected translations of Li Zhi’s writings.- Journal of Chinese Studies
[A] mature contribution both to Li Zhi and late-Ming scholarship. Features of his life and writings are examined by knowledgeable Ming scholars who are able skillfully to shed light on him from the perspective of a body of scholarship for which each is known.- Journal of Chinese History
The diverse and multifaceted scholarship presented in this volume not only mirrors Li Zhi’s intellectual versatility, it also documents the wide margin that the discrepancies and inconsistencies in his thinking and writing leave for interpretation. Even though Li Zhi seemed “objectionable” to many of his contemporaries and some of those that came after him, this book convincingly demonstrates the value and perpetual significance of his thought. To all students of Li Zhi’s life and thought and of late Ming intellectual history in general I do recommend this volume unreservedly.- Monumenta Serica
Very timely and important.- David Rolston, University of Michigan
Presents both a richly nuanced portrait of an extremely interesting man and an in-depth discussion of a fascinating time, using different disciplinary methods and sources. The scope of the work is in fact broader than this one man—we learn a lot about the Ming world.- Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota