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A Banned Book Tradition and Local Reinvention: Receptions of Qu Dajun (1630–1696) and His Works in Late Imperial China

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This article examines the process whereby Qu Dajun (1630–96), a seventeenth-century writer, became canonized as one of the national poets of nineteenth-century China. Qu Dajun was moderately popular during the early Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) among his friendship network because of his loyalty to the Ming (1368–1644), the last Han-Chinese dynasty. It was only in the eighteenth century under the Qing court’s censorship that Qu became an anti-Manchu symbol among local activists. This article explores different receptions of Qu’s writings in the court and society from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, especially during the “literary inquisition” in the eighteenth century and the rare book collecting cult that arose in local society afterwards, the enthusiasm for local writings in the nineteenth century, and the nation-wide “Classical Learning” (guoxue) in the early twentieth century. By rediscovering the critical roles played by local book collectors in preserving knowledge, this article contributes to new understanding of power and the fluidity and resilience of local discourse in late imperial China.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, Drake University


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