China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties

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Overview

After the collapse of the Han dynasty in the third century CE, China divided along a north-south line. Mark Lewis traces the changes that both underlay and resulted from this split in a period that saw the geographic redefinition of China, more engagement with the outside world, significant changes to family life, developments in the literary and social arenas, and the introduction of new religions.

The Yangzi River valley arose as the rice-producing center of the country. Literature moved beyond the court and capital to depict local culture, and newly emerging social spaces included the garden, temple, salon, and country villa. The growth of self-defined genteel families expanded the notion of the elite, moving it away from the traditional great Han families identified mostly by material wealth. Trailing the rebel movements that toppled the Han, the new faiths of Daoism and Buddhism altered every aspect of life, including the state, kinship structures, and the economy.

By the time China was reunited by the Sui dynasty in 589 ce, the elite had been drawn into the state order, and imperial power had assumed a more transcendent nature. The Chinese were incorporated into a new world system in which they exchanged goods and ideas with states that shared a common Buddhist religion. The centuries between the Han and the Tang thus had a profound and permanent impact on the Chinese world.

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Editorial Reviews

Lothar Von Falkenhausen
An original, useful, and very timely book, China between Empires is arguably the first single-volume comprehensive treatment for general readers of Chinese history between AD 220 and 589. Lewis writes clearly and with conviction and marshals an impressive array of evidence--historical, religious, technological, literary, and archaeological. It is a remarkable achievement, especially considering the extreme complexity of the period.
Choice - V. C. Xiong
The book is wide-ranging in scope and interspersed with interesting ideas.
Literary Review - Jonathan Mirsky
This series on China, brilliantly overseen by Timothy Brook, is a credit to Harvard University Press. Above all, it encourages us to think of China in different ways.
Choice
The book is wide-ranging in scope and interspersed with interesting ideas.
— V. C. Xiong
Choice

The book is wide-ranging in scope and interspersed with interesting ideas.
— V. C. Xiong

Literary Review

This series on China, brilliantly overseen by Timothy Brook, is a credit to Harvard University Press. Above all, it encourages us to think of China in different ways.
— Jonathan Mirsky

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026056
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2009
  • Series: History of Imperial China Series , #2
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Edward Lewis is Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in Chinese Culture at Stanford University.

Timothy Brook is Professor of History and Republic of China Chair at the University of British Columbia.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Geography of North and South China 6

2 The Rise of the Great Families 18

3 Military Dynasticism 54

4 Urban Transformation 86

5 Rural Life 118

6 China and the Outer World 144

7 Redefining Kinship 170

8 Daoism and Buddhism 196

9 Writing 221

Conclusion 248

Dates and Dynasties 261

Pronunciation Guide 265

Notes 267

Bibliography 299

Acknowledgments 325

Index 327

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