What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China

By Tobie Meyer-Fong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Loss

Formal commemoration, whether inscribed in stone, constructed from wood, or printed with ink, imposed structure on the brutal disorder of wartime experience, and moral clarity on often ambivalent decisions and allegiances. These commemorative forms had at least the imprimatur of state sanction, even when the impetus came almost entirely from local elites, or when the substance subtly contested or deliberately subverted official standards. The litanies of names and stylized biographies centered on righteous deaths promised certainty, honor, and comfort and marked a boundary between the terrible world of then and the restoration that was supposed to be now. And yet, the boundary between past and present, however carefully marked and patrolled, remained porous. Disorder persisted in both real life and in memory. Broken and abandoned buildings remained a feature of urban landscapes; fields were tended by migrants or were left untilled. The presence of the dead could be felt as profound absence and loss, even as relationships might persist posthumously, mediated by ancestral rites and offerings.

Many survivors recorded their wartime experiences in memoirs, diaries, poetry, and other genres; some of these were published before the turn of the twentieth century (evidently out of an abiding interest in the emotional

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What Remains: Coming to Terms with Civil War in 19th Century China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Author’s Note xv
  • Chapter One- War 1
  • Chapter Two- Words 21
  • Chapter Three- Marked Bodies 65
  • Chapter Four- Bones and Flesh 99
  • Chapter Five- Wood and Ink 135
  • Chapter Six- Loss 175
  • Chapter Seven- Endings 203
  • Notes 209
  • Glossary 271
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 305
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