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Zhang Yinlin's early China

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Chapter Summary

Zhang Yinlin’s motivation for writing Early China was similar to that shared by most other writers of general histories during these years, patriotism and a concern for the fate of the Chinese nation and its peoples. While closely involved in the transformation of Chinese historical thought and writing in early 20th century China, Zhang Yinlin stood aside from the mainstream of developments and was not closely aligned to any particular school. One of the reviewers of Early China argued that what non-specialist readers wanted in a history of this kind was a story, China’s story, based on real events but told in a manner that would provide for readers a sympathetic engagement with what was known of early Chinese history. This was exactly what Zhang had tried to achieve, a lively, interesting and engaging account of Chinese history that people would want to read.

Keywords: Chinese historical thought; Chinese nation; Early China; general histories; patriotism; Zhang Yinlin



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