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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019


  • Vincent S. Leung, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 1-19


The Introduction describes the basic arguments and scope of the book. It gives a survey of the secondary scholarship on the subject, with the contention that scholars had focused mostly on historiographical texts and neglected to study ideas of the past across the broader corpus. Moreover, it argues that there is a culturalist bias in their readings that reduces the early Chinese engagement with the past to a matter of cultural attitude. On the basis of this survey of secondary scholarship, the Introduction describes the specific perspective and methods of this study. First, it will engage with a variety of materials, both historiographical and non-historiographical; second, it will approach early Chinese narratives about the past not as expressions of cultural beliefs but as argumentative utterances in the broader political and ethical debates.