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By Richard E. Strassberg

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Additional resources for A Chinese bestiary: strange creatures from the guideways through mountains and seas = [Shan hai jing]

Sample text

The first was that of Bi Yuan (1730–1797), a high o‹cial and noted patron of other scholars who reached the 2 4 I N T R O D U C T I O N rank of minister in the ministry of war and vice censor-in-chief. His version, A Newly Corrected Edition of the Guideways through Mountains and Seas (Shanhaijing xinjiaozheng), was completed in 1781 after a five-year study of the text while he was serving in Xi’an as provincial governor of Shaanxi. Bi’s interest in geography was stimulated by his travels, which took him beyond the Jade Gate (modern Yumen, Gansu), China’s traditional border in the west.

A charismatic scholar and fangshi-wizard at the court of Emperor Wu. 56 Both I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 3 anecdotes reiterate the theme of the Guan Zhong story, suggesting that knowledge of strange creatures continued to be a useful component of political discourse at court, though with the additional element of citing a textual reference to support one’s claims. Liu Xin had been charged by the emperor with carrying on his father’s work of recovering surviving texts from the pre-Qin period and assembling an imperial library that comprehended all the valuable knowledge of the time.

591) had recognized that the text contained place-names that could not have predated the Han dynasty. 77 You was perhaps the first scholar to express doubts about Yu’s authorship in print. Not only did he believe that the Guideways was mostly compiled sometime just before the Qin period, but he voiced a new, historical appreciation of it. 78 The Song dynasty witnessed one of the high points of the scholar culture in the imperial state. Reinvigorated by the more metaphysically inclined ideology of NeoConfucianism, some intellectuals continued to evince an interest in the Guideways.

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