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Tracing Shadows

Tracing Shadows

Author Horst Huber
Publisher Printed on Paige
Publication Date October 2018
Section Espresso Book Machine Books / Printed Here
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN X17914

The late phases of Southern Song history, roughly the third quarter of the 13th century, became part of the official historical record only by the middle of the 14th century. In the upheavals of the time, the entire territory of China came under 'foreign' domination, the rule of the Yuan. The record of events remained at that point fluid and unstable, much of it consisting, apart from private note taking, of on-demand writings, such as obituaries. The first of these three studies  presents such materials relating to the resistance campaign led by Wen Tianxiang (1236-1283) who paid  for his efforts with his life. They show that the events and characters should be considered in the full flow and context of the narratives.

One at first sight seemingly incidental line of verse by the famed Song era poet Su Shi (1037-1101) became something of an ear-worm for Wen Tianxiang; it accompanied him through the most dramatic phases of his life's journey. But it had played a similar role for writers before him and after him and its reception reflects how travel, scenery, and chiefly exile came to be intertwined in living experience and memory over six centuries.

By Wen Tianxiang's lifetime in the 13th century, a rich written heritage of patriotic steadfastness and integrity had evolved in quotable phrases and narrative. Wen Tianxiang's most famous poetic statement,  Zhengqige, much memorized by Chinese youths to this day, is unabashedly indebted to that tradition. 

The first and third of these chapters are based on contributions to the 1st and the 2nd Conference on Middle Period Chinese Humanities, Cambridge, MA 2014, and Leiden, Netherlands, 2017.

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