The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China / Edition 1

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Overview


The Ming dynasty was the last great Chinese dynasty before the Manchu conquest in 1644. During that time, China, not Europe, was the center of the world: the European voyages of exploration were searching not just for new lands but also for new trade routes to the Far East. In this book, Timothy Brook eloquently narrates the changing landscape of life over the three centuries of the Ming (1368-1644), when China was transformed from a closely administered agrarian realm into a place of commercial profits and intense competition for status.

The Confusions of Pleasure marks a significant departure from the conventional ways in which Chinese history has been written. Rather than recounting the Ming dynasty in a series of political events and philosophical achievements, it narrates this longue durée in terms of the habits and strains of everyday life. Peppered with stories of real people and their negotiations of a rapidly changing world, this book provides a new way of seeing the Ming dynasty that not only contributes to the scholarly understanding of the period but also provides an entertaining and accessible introduction to Chinese history for anyone.

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What People Are Saying

Jonathan Spence
This is joyful and comprehensive scholarship, full of motion and detail....The first book we have in English that shows the whole shape of Ming life in all its ebullient complexity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520221543
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 345
  • Sales rank: 1,042,239
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Timothy Brook is Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China (1993), and Quelling the People: The Military Suppression of the Beijing Democracy Movement (1992), and the coeditor of Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities (1999) and China and Historical Capitalism: Genealogies of Sinological Knowledge (1999).
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
A Ming Chronology
A Genealogy of Ming Emperors
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Seasons of the Ming (1609) 1
Dramatis Personae 15
Winter: The First Century (1368-1450) 17
A Brick in the Wall 19
The Burden of Communication 30
Ideas into Texts 56
Economy and Exchange 65
The Distance between Rich and Poor 79
Spring: The Middle Century (1450-1550) 86
The Center Recedes 87
State and Market 101
Commerce 112
Commerce and Culture 124
The Zhengde Decay 139
Summer: The Last Century (1550-1644) 153
The God of Copper Cash 154
Travels and Letters 173
Consumption and Production 190
Trade 204
Fashion 218
Fall: The Lord of Silver (1642-1644) 238
The Fall of the Ming 240
Last Glimpses 253
Notes 263
Bibliography 295
Glossary and Index 313
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