The Memoirs of Han China - Vol. 3

The Memoirs of Han China - Vol. 3

The Memoirs of Han China - Vol. 3

The Memoirs of Han China - Vol. 3


In The Grand Scribe's Records: Volume X, readers can follow Ssu-ma Qian's depiction of the later years of the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han (r. 140-87 BC). The volume begins with four chapters describing the Han's attempts to subdue states north, east, south and west of the empire. The subsequent long biography of Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju (179-117) presents one of the era's major literary figures who came to oppose the Emperor's expensive military campaigns against these states. It is followed by an equally extended portrayal of Liu An (d. 122), King of Huai-nan, who was seen as an internal threat and forced to commit suicide. The final chapters recount narratives of the ideal officials (all predating the Han) and the Confucians the Emperor championed.


“The time has come,” the Walrus said

This past year has seen the publication of two important works on the Shih chi 史 記. the first is Hans van Ess’s two volume Politik und Geschichtsschreibung im alten China, Pan-Ma i-t’ung 班馬異同 (2v.; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014), the result of over a decade of van Ess’s careful readings of the Shih chi and Han shu 漢書. the second is the newly edited edition of the Shih chi, completed over a similar period by a team of eight scholars at Nan-ching Shih-fan Ta-hsüeh 南京師範大學 under the leadership of Chao Sheng-ch’ün 趙生群.

Professor van Ess’ study deserves a more thorough reading than could be provided here. Suffice it to say that over the last eleven years I have been reading and translating the Shih chi with Hans van Ess and that his ideas have found their way into many of the translations and translator’s notes in this volume.

Although the new Shih chi edition has not been consulted for most of the chapters included in this tenth volume of the Grand Scribe’s Records (it was published in September 2013 after most of the translations herein were completed), it deserves a brief introduction. the new edition begins with a “Tien-chiao pen erh-shih-ssu chi Ch’ing shih kao hsiu-ting yüan-ch’i” 點校本二十四史及清史稿修訂緣起 (On the Origins of the Revisions of the Collated Edition of the Twenty-four Histor1995) 207–16 and the

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