The Confucian's Progress-Autobiographical Writings in Traditional China

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Wu Pei-yi
ISBN: 978-0-691-01524-8
Princeton University Press
284 pag. paperback 17 x 24 cm

Challenging the widely held belief that autobiography is a unique product of the West, Pei-yi Wu demonstrates that writing about the self did thrive in one non-Western civilization. The pages of this first full-length treatment of Chinese autobiography teem with fascinating individuals each of whom has a story to tell--champions of lost causes explaining their impending martyrdom to posterity, earnest Buddhists and Confucians reporting on their spiritual quests, irrepressible and inventive egotists indulging in self-celebration, and distressed moralists confessing their sins. Affording the reader a view of some never before examined aspects of the Chinese psyche, The Confucian's Progress is also an accessible introduction to Chinese history and literature. "A highly intelligent--and thoroughly intelligible--book-length essay on autobiographical writings in China.... With its ample and readable translations of a dazzling array of scarce Chinese texts alone, this book will reward readers. Moreover, The Confucian's Progress will force readers to think about the relationship between turning points in literary expression and social change, and about how the constraints (or conventions) of established genres limit or shape biographical and autobiographical writings."--Joanna F. Handlin Smith, The Journal of Asian Studies