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Chinese Literature
Gushibian 古史辨

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Gushibian 古史辨 "Evaluations of ancient historiography" is a series of essays of late Qing 清 (1644-1911) and early Republican (1911-1949) historians about the traditional views of Chinese historiography. From 1926 to 1941 Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛, Luo Genze 羅根澤 and Lü Simian 呂思勉 published a series of articles and correspondences dealing with a multitude of questions of historiography. In the center of discussion was the question of authenticity of old history books and their content. The whole collection, called Gushibian, comprised 350 articles in seven resp. nine volumes.
Antique books like the Zhouyi 周易 "Book of Changes" and the Shijing 詩經 "Book of Songs" that were traditionally seen as compilations by Confucius, were now reinterpreted as books containing divination methods (the first) and love songs (the latter, part Guofeng 國風 "Airs of the states") without any deeper philosophical content in the Confucian sense. A second target of the critique was the assumption that the ancient emperors like Pan Gu 盤古, Huang Di 黃帝, the Yellow Emperor, and Yu the Great 大禹 had been real persons in history. And for the first time Gu Jiegang and his collegues discussed the origins of the Yin-Yang theory and correlative thinking.
Under the influence of Western historiography and the May Fourth Movement (wusi yundong 五四運動) Chinese historians now began to make themselves free of the traditional view that all historiographic books and their commentaries reported real facts. The series Gushibian was thus a milestone on the way to modern historiography in China.

Source: Liu Lina 劉利娜 (1992), "Gushibian 古史辨", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, p. 258.

July 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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