A Thorough Exploration in Historiography / Shitong
- PUBLISHED: June 2023
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Literature, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 1104 Pages, 6 x 9 in
- SERIES: Classics of Chinese Thought
- ISBN: 9780295751061
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In the early eighth century, frustrated with the authorities but still hoping to gain immortality through his future oeuvre, the Tang court historian Liu Zhiji set out to write Shitong, in which he would rigorously explore the tradition of historical writing in China. Liu scrutinized hundreds of texts from antiquity to the early Tang dynasty (618–907) and evaluated their authors according to what he deemed the three essential qualities for historians: talent, knowledge, and insight. Shitong is now generally considered the greatest work of traditional Chinese historiography. It preserves precious information on a host of lost ancient and medieval titles while advancing a critical view on history writing. This first translation of the work into a Western language provides textual criticism and annotation for the historical figures, events, and allusions that are crucial to appreciating the work, making it a must-read for students of historiography East and West.
Authors & Contributors
Liu Zhiji (661–721), born to an official family, served in the Tang court until shortly before his death. Victor Cunrui Xiong is professor of history at Western Michigan University. His many books include Historical Dictionary of Medieval China, From Peasant to Emperor: The Life of Liu Bang, and Capital Cities and Urban Form in Pre-modern China: Luoyang, 1038 BCE to 938 CE.
The first complete, carefully annotated English translation of this key text on traditional Chinese historical thought. Written in the early eighth century under the Tang dynasty, Liu Zhiji's Shitong has long been admired as one of the milestones of traditional Chinese thinking about history. For students interested in the worldwide theory of historiography, its deep and often critical reflections about the methods and principles underlying the historian's practice provide excellent material for cross-cultural comparative investigations. A truly monumental achievement!- Lothar von Falkenhausen, author of Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius (1000–250 BC): The Archaeological Evidence
A landmark achievement that will be treasured by all those seeking to understand how and why history was written in China, and beyond.- Roel Sterckx, author of Chinese Thought: From Confucius to Cook Ding
An urgently needed translation—readable, consistent, and faithful to the original.- James Benn, author of Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History