Testimony of a Confucian Woman: The Autobiography of Mrs. NIE Zeng Jifen, 1852-1942

Testimony of a Confucian Woman: The Autobiography of Mrs. NIE Zeng Jifen, 1852-1942

by Kennedy
     
 

Testimony of a Confucian Woman is the compelling autobiography of a woman who lived through the most dramatic changes in modern Chinese history: the fall of the Qing dynasty, the establishment of the Republic of China, and the rise of the Guomindang and the Chinese Communist party. Nie Zeng Jifen's autobiography provides an account of the changes in elite family life… See more details below

Overview

Testimony of a Confucian Woman is the compelling autobiography of a woman who lived through the most dramatic changes in modern Chinese history: the fall of the Qing dynasty, the establishment of the Republic of China, and the rise of the Guomindang and the Chinese Communist party. Nie Zeng Jifen's autobiography provides an account of the changes in elite family life in China during the transition from a bureaucratic to a bourgeois society, unveiling the personal beliefs and values of a Confucian woman. Born in Beijing in the year the Taiping Revolutionary Movement swept across south China, Zeng Jifen was the daughter of Zeng Guofan, the victorious leader of the struggle against the Taipings, founder of China's first steam-powered machine industry, governor general of three of China's richest provinces, and paragon of traditional Confucian virtues. Her husband, Nie Qigui, directed the huge government-owned industrial complex founded by his father-in-law and was later a prominent official in east China. As the empire was crumbling, he launched his two sons in the textile industry in Shanghai. Widowed in 1911, Mrs. Nie assumed the role of matriarch of one of the prominent bourgeois families of twentieth-century China. The mother of twelve children, Mrs. Nie lived her ninety years in the confines of a traditional elite family, yet she found ways to extend her influence and to shape the fortunes and careers of family members at high levels of government and society. Her account of her life provides a view of traditional Chinese society under the stress of modernization and of a proud family steeped in tradition but disposed by the pressure of the times to adapt essential features of its intellectual and material heritage. It suggests important continuities between nineteenth- and twentieth-century China. Testimony of a Confucian Woman touches upon many salient features of China's history during Mrs. Nie's lifetime: regional differences, religious beliefs, education

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This memoir by a Chinese matriarch recalls how, as both the daughter and widow of powerful industrialists--military and government officials of the old empire--she ``steered the careers'' of her husband and sons. Translated, edited and heavily annotated by researcher and genealogist Micki Kennedy and Washington State University history professor Thomas Kennedy, the book provides invaluable cultural and historical background information. From the fall of the Manchu's Qing dynasty through numerous wars and the rise of Communism, Mrs. Nie's strong Confucian values, buttressed by her ``new Christian faith'' and adaptability to change, helped her to survive during a long widowhood and to maintain bewilderingly extended family relations. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Written in the style of a chronological biography ( nien-p'u ), this work is the life story of the daughter of the famous Chinese statesman and military leader Zeng Guofan (Tseng Kuo-fan), written in 1931 when she was 80 years old. In the unadorned style characteristic of the genre, Nie's narrative intertwines her view of life from the inside of a prominent Chinese family with the panorama of modern Chinese history from before the Taiping Rebellion through the year of its writing. She predicts what her later years will be like, which are further described in an epilog by her son-in-law. The short autobiography is supplemented by copious notes, a cultural and historical introduction, and related biographies, as well as the epilog, a foreword by her grandaughter, and a glossary. This account will provide historians who do not read Chinese with an introduction to this distinctive Chinese form of historical writing.-- D.E. Perushek, Univ. of Tennessee Libs., Knoxville

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820315096
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
07/28/1993
Pages:
240

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