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Beacon Fire and Shooting Star

Beacon Fire and Shooting Star

The Literary Culture of the Liang (502–557)

Xiaofei Tian

ISBN 9780674026025

Publication date: 12/30/2007

The Liang dynasty (502–557) is one of the most brilliant and creative periods in Chinese history and one of the most underestimated and misunderstood. Under the Liang, literary activities, such as writing, editing, anthologizing, and cataloguing, were pursued on an unprecedented scale, yet the works of this era are often dismissed as “decadent” and no more than a shallow prelude to the glories of the Tang.

This book is devoted to contextualizing the literary culture of this era—not only the literary works themselves but also the physical process of literary production such as the copying and transmitting of texts; activities such as book collecting, anthologizing, cataloguing, and various forms of literary scholarship; and the intricate interaction of religion, particularly Buddhism, and literature. Its aim is to explore the impact of social and political structure on the literary world.


  • This is a wonderful book. It grapples with extremely difficult classical Chinese texts and makes them come alive in sparkling and precise English. This will undoubtedly be the definitive study of the Liang dynasty for a long time to come. It is scholarship of the finest caliber.

    —Charles Holcombe, American Historical Review


  • Xiaofei Tian is Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 450 pages
  • 1-1/4 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Asia Center

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