Pioneer of the Chinese Revolution: Zhang Binglin and Confucianism

Pioneer of the Chinese Revolution: Zhang Binglin and Confucianism

Pioneer of the Chinese Revolution: Zhang Binglin and Confucianism

Pioneer of the Chinese Revolution: Zhang Binglin and Confucianism

Excerpt

One senses when one begins reading virtually anything written by Shimada Kenji, Professor Emeritus of East Asian History at Kyoto University, that one has entered a realm where a great mind is at work. Old ideas begin to take on new meanings, and new ideas and new approaches to familiar themes unsettle the reader's thoughts. It all seems so novel and yet so clear.

Most of Shimada's career has been tied to Kyoto University. He received his undergraduate degree there in 1941, and beginning in 1949 he was Associate Professor at the Research Institute of Humanistic Sciences, moving over to the Faculty of Letters some years later. Before retiring in 1977, he lectured and led seminars on everything from ancient Chinese thought to Neo- Confucianism in China and Japan, to Sino-Japanese relations in the late nineteenth century, to the history of the Chinese Revolution.

Unlike many other Japanese Sinologists and Japanologists, Shimada has not produced an enormous corpus of writings, published and republished in countless ways. He has written three books, edited and translated about a dozen others, and published a fair number of articles and a modest number of reviews. A brief overview just of his book-length contributions to the field will suffice to convey the breadth of his work.

Many argue that his first book, derived from his college thesis, is still his most influential piece of work: Chugoku ni okeru kindai shii no zasetsu (The frustration of modern thought in China) ( Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1949; reissue, 1970). This book effectively opened the field of Ming thought to serious scholarship in Japan and abroad. As Shimada noted in his introduction, most scholars had been content until then to see the intellectualism of the Qing as derivative of trends in the Song, but had failed to find intellectual depth in the intervening centuries under the Ming. In fact, . . .

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