Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley

Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley

Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley

Peasant Life in China: A Field Study of Country Life in the Yangtze Valley

Excerpt

I venture to foretell that Peasant Life in China by Dr. Hsiao-Tung Fei will be counted as a landmark in the development of anthropological field-work and theory. The book has a number of outstanding merits, each of them marking a new departure. Our attention is here directed not to a small, insignificant tribe, but to the greatest nation in the world. The book is not written by an outsider looking out for exotic impressions in a strange land; it contains observations carried on by a citizen upon his own people. It is the result of work done by a native among natives. If it be true that self-knowledge is the most difficult to gain, then undoubtedly an anthropology of one's own people is the most arduous, but also the most valuable achievement of a field-worker.

The book, moreover, though it takes in the traditional background of Chinese life, does not remain satisfied with the mere reconstruction of the static past. It grapples fully and deliberately with that most elusive and difficult phase of modern life: the transformation of traditional culture under Western impact. The writer is courageous enough to cast away all academic pretence at scientific detachment. Dr. Fei fully realizes that knowledge is indispensable to the right solution of practical difficulties. He sees that science, in rendering real service to mankind, is not degraded. It indeed receives the acid test of its validity. Truth will work, because truth is nothing else but man's adaptation to real facts and forces. Science becomes only prostituted when the scholar is forced, as in some countries of . . .

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