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Speaking to History

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Speaking to History

The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China

Format

Paperback / softback

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Speaking to History by Paul A. Cohen
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Description

The ancient story of King Goujian, a psychologically complex fifth-century BCE monarch, spoke powerfully to the Chinese during China's turbulent twentieth century. Yet most Americans - even students and specialists of this era - have never heard of Goujian. In "Speaking to History", Paul A. Cohen opens this previously missing (to the West) chapter of China's recent history. He connects the story to each of the major traumas of the last century, tracing its versatility as a source of inspiration and hope and elegantly exploring, on a more general level, why such stories often remain sealed up within a culture, unknown to outsiders. Labeling this phenomenon 'insider cultural knowledge', Cohen investigates the relationship between past story and present reality. He inquires why at certain moments in their collective lives peoples are especially drawn to narratives from the distant past that resonate strongly with their current circumstances, and why the Chinese have returned over and over to a story from twenty-five centuries ago. In this imaginative stitching of story to history, Cohen reveals how the shared narratives of a community help to define its culture and illuminate its history.

Author Biography

Paul A. Cohen is Professor of History Emeritus at Wellesley College and Associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University. His books include Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past and History in Three Keys: The Boxers as event, Experience and Myth.
Release date Australia
June 4th, 2010
Author
Contributor
Foreword by John Gillis
Country of Publication
United States
Illustrations
30 b-w photographs
Imprint
University of California Press
Pages
384
Dimensions
152x229x30
ISBN-13
9780520265837
Product ID
4028725

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