Flawed Jade: Zhang Dai's Family Biographies

Duncan Campbell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    <title/> In the voluminous writings of the second half of his long life, the bulk of which were produced after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644, the essayist and historian Zhang Dai (1597-?1684) reveals a particular and pronounced interest in issues to do with the craft of biographical and autobiographical writing. This paper examines several of the family-focused collective biographies later included in the major collection of his writings and discusses aspects of Zhang Dai's explicit search for a "sense of authenticity" in his depictions. Just as it is the flaw in a piece of jade that serves to make it exquisite and unique, he argues, so to is it our flaws that make us worthy of a biography.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-55
    JournalMing studies
    Issue numberNovember 2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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