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The Magnitude of Ming

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  • This edited volume explores the Chinese notion of "ming" (fate, command, allotted lifespan, life-giving force) in its various forms, in an array of texts, and over a the whole span of Chinese written history. The essays analyze instances of the term and concept "ming" in bronze inscription, the Zuozhuan, Confucius, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Daoist religious texts, medieval Chinese poetry, late imperial drama, fiction, and criticism, and in modern Chinese fiction. It is a comprehensive treatment that considers many dimensions of the concept. I edited the volume and provided the introduction. In addition, I wrote the last chapter: "Divi/Nation: Modern Literary Representations of the Chinese Imagined Community." This essay discusses four major narrative works in contemporary Chinese literature and mentions several others in passing.


    "The rich content of this volume substantiates its presiding thesis: 'ming (command/mandate/fate/life) is a ubiquitous term in Chinese thought, history, and literature.' By examining the topic in a wide variety of writings--from paleographic inscriptions and classical writings, through medieval ritual scriptures and traditional fiction and drama, to modern and contemporary literatures--the contributors reveal concretely the term's pliant polysemy further shaped by shifting linguistic and social contexts. The book will serve as a needed reference and stimulus for future inquiry."

    -- Anthony C. Yu, University of Chicago

    "Few themes in premodern China's social and intellectual life have had greater significance than ming. The Magnitude of Ming is the most wide-ranging, provocative and generally valuable interdisciplinary discussion in any language of this critical concept. Christopher Lupke is to be commended for this highly stimulating volume, which, despite the wide range of its subject matter, its broad disciplinary representation, and its chronological sweep, has a remarkable thematic coherence. This well-edited work will generate much discussion and fruitful debate among scholars of Chinese history, philosophy, religion, language and literature, as well as comparativists in these disciplines and will also serve as a valuable, indeed, indispensable, reference work. A first-rate production."

    -- Richard J. Smith, Rice University

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International