A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden): Selected Writings

Paperback | June 7, 2016

byZhi LiEditorRivi Handler-Spitz, Pauline Lee

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Li Zhi's iconoclastic interpretations of history, religion, literature, and social relations have fascinated Chinese intellectuals for centuries. His approach synthesized Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist ethics and incorporated the Neo-Confucian idealism of such thinkers as Wang Yangming (1472-1529). The result was a series of heretical writings that caught fire among Li Zhi's contemporaries, despite an imperial ban on their publication, and intrigued Chinese audiences long after his death.

Translated for the first time into English, Li Zhi's bold challenge to established doctrines will captivate anyone curious about the origins of such subtly transgressive works as the sixteenth-century play The Peony Pavilion or the eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber. In A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden), Li Zhi confronts accepted ideas about gender, questions the true identity of history's heroes and villains, and offers his own readings of Confucius, Laozi, and the Buddha. Fond of vivid sentiment and sharp expression, Li Zhi made no distinction between high and low literary genres in his literary analysis. He refused to support sanctioned ideas about morality and wrote stinging social critiques. Li Zhi praised scholars who risked everything to expose extortion and misrule. In this sophisticated translation, English-speaking readers encounter the best of this heterodox intellectual's vital contribution to Chinese thought and culture.

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Li Zhi's iconoclastic interpretations of history, religion, literature, and social relations have fascinated Chinese intellectuals for centuries. His approach synthesized Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist ethics and incorporated the Neo-Confucian idealism of such thinkers as Wang Yangming (1472-1529). The result was a series of heretica...

Li Zhi (1527-1602), also known as Li Zhuowu, was a controversial philosopher, historian, and author of the late Ming Dynasty. A critic of the Cheng-Zhu School of Neo-Confucian thought, he was ultimately arrested for heresy and, rather than suffer exile, committed suicide in prison.Rivi Handler-Spitz is assistant professor of Asian lan...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:408 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 7, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231166133

ISBN - 13:9780231166133

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsConventions and AbbreviationsIntroductionSelections from A Book to Burn (Fenshu)Part I: PrefacesPart II: LettersPart III: Miscellaneous Writings: Short Essays and DiscoursesPart IV: Readings of HistoryPart V: PoetrySelections from Another Book to Burn (Xu fenshu)Part I: PrefacesPart II: LettersPart III: Miscellaneous Writings: Short Essays and DiscoursesPart IV: PoetryFrom A Book to Keep (Hidden) (Cangshu) (1599)The Historical RecordChronology of Li Zhi's LifeBibliographyList of ContributorsIndex

Editorial Reviews

This volume of judiciously selected and aptly translated works by Li Zhi provides clear glimpses of his mental landscape and the ambient world of late Ming thought. The expert translators have revised hackneyed conventional interpretations of Li, enabling readers to form their own views of this early modern savant.