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By Xiang Liu

In early China, used to be it right for a girl to disobey her father, contradict her husband, or form the general public coverage of a son who governed over a dynasty or kingdom? in line with the Lienü zhuan, or classified Biographies of Women, it used to be not just applicable yet precious for girls to step in with clever suggestions whilst fathers, husbands, or rulers strayed from the trail of advantage.

Compiled towards the tip of the previous Han dynasty (202 BCE-9 CE) via Liu Xiang (79-8 BCE), the Lienü zhuan is the earliest extant booklet within the chinese language culture exclusively dedicated to the schooling of girls. faraway from supplying a unified imaginative and prescient of women's roles, the textual content promotes a various and infrequently contradictory diversity of practices. At one severe are exemplars resorting to suicide and self-mutilation as a method to maintain chastity and formality orthodoxy. on the different are daring and outspoken girls whose rhetorical mastery is helping right erring rulers, sons, and husbands. The textual content offers a desirable assessment of the illustration of women's roles in early legends, formal speeches on statecraft, and hugely fictionalized old money owed in this foundational interval of chinese language history.

Over time, the biographies of girls turned a typical characteristic of dynastic and native histories and a automobile for expressing and transmitting issues approximately women's social, political, and household roles. The Lienü zhuan is additionally wealthy in information regarding the lifestyle, rituals, and household issues of early China. encouraged through its bills, artists around the millennia have depicted its tales on monitors, work, lacquer ware, work of art, and stone reduction sculpture, extending its achieve to literate and illiterate audiences alike.

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20 girl Liang Yi Notes Works brought up Index ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I gratefully recognize the aid of many colleagues within the writing of this publication. The Columbia collage Early China seminars; the conferences of the Warring States operating workforce prepared by means of E. Bruce and Takeo Brooks on the collage of Massachusetts; the workshop at the Huainanzi equipped by way of Sarah Queen, Michael Puett, and John significant; Clara Wing-chung Ho’s convention at the assets for chinese language women’s heritage; and the workshops geared up by way of Moss Roberts at big apple collage all supplied necessary possibilities for reinforcing my realizing of various concerns that undergo at the Lienü zhuan. one of the students who participated in those conferences and others who provided their recommendations on quite a few textual and old matters attached with this ebook, i'm specially thankful to Barry Blakeley, Yuri Pines, Keith Knapp, provide Hardy, John significant, Sarah Queen, Michael Puett, Sarah Allan, Constance prepare dinner, Moss Roberts, Andy Meyer, Paul Goldin, invoice Baxter, Margaret Pearson, Li Feng, Wang Hongjie, Melvin Thatcher, Dieter Kuhn, Miranda Brown, Susan Mann, Masatsugu Yamazaki, Michiko Niikuni Wilson, Gustav Heldt, and Wolfgang Behr. My editor at Columbia college Press, Leslie Kriesel, merits exact thank you for her prepared eye and cautious paintings. I additionally thank Anne Holmes, who created the index for this quantity. i'm additionally thankful for the beneficiant help of the yankee Council of discovered Societies, the nationwide Endowment for the arts, the Luce starting place, the college of Virginia, and the college of Virginia’s East Asia heart, which supplied the time and the assets necessary to the of completion of this venture. i'm grateful for the help of the nationwide Library of China, particularly Zhang Zhiqing, director of the infrequent Books and designated Collections division; the Institute for complicated expertise within the Humanities on the college of Virginia; and the British Museum for his or her aid within the construction of a electronic study assortment for the learn of the Lienü zhuan. My buddy and mentor, Eric P. Henry, merits targeted thank you. I first met Eric in 1977 in a direction on classical chinese language on the Inter-University heart for chinese reviews in Taipei, Taiwan. whilst I back to the U.S. in 1979, i used to be stunned at some point to discover that Eric had despatched me a duplicate of Albert O’Hara’s translation of the Lienü zhuan. i used to be at turns involved, encouraged, and appalled by means of the tales during this assortment. It used to be simply my type of booklet! and that i suspect this is the reason Eric despatched it to me. whilst I accomplished my very own translation a few thirty years later, Eric kindly learn throughout the complete manuscript and provided innumerable insights and recommendations which are mirrored on approximately each web page. Any mistakes that stay are my very own. i might additionally prefer to thank my daughter, Zoe Olivia, for developing for me a cardboard Lienü zhuan “thermometer” with a hundred twenty five degree-marks for every of the one hundred twenty five biographies. whenever I accomplished one biography, i used to be directed to paint a line at the thermometer crimson until eventually the “mercury” reached the ultimate objective of a hundred twenty five levels.

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