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The World That Was Not Comes To Pass

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Chapter Summary

This chapter first discusses family and the early life of Chen Jiru. Chen was born in Songjiang, in the Lower Yangtse Valley, in 1558, in a period when the area was undergoing a hitherto unseen expansion in urbanisation and prosperity. The interpretation of Chen's periods of illness was disputed among later commentators, some seeing it as only an excuse for cowardice, others seeing it as expedient. Chen did away with his scholar's robes in 1586, the year after he had failed the provincial examination for the second time. In doing so he publicly renounced any possibility of holding an official position. The availability of official positions was limited during the late Ming. During the Wanli reign period (1573-1620) the number of positions in the bureaucracy did not keep pace with population growth.

Keywords: Chen Jiru; Songjiang; urbanisation; Wanli reign period



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