Cover: Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination, from Harvard University PressCover: Savage Exchange in HARDCOVER

Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series 94

Savage Exchange

Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination

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Product Details


$49.95 • £39.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674417199

Publication Date: 10/06/2014


384 pages

6 x 9 inches

14 photos, 2 illus., 1 map, 1 table

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series


Every now and then, the collective scholarly consciousness is stirred up by a new book that makes unexpected connections among well-known ‘facts’ and thereby fundamentally changes the perception of an entire epoch. Tamara Chin’s Savage Exchange is such a book.—Lothar von Falkenhausen, Journal of Chinese Studies

Savage Exchange is a major breakthrough in conceptualizing grounds of comparison between early Chinese texts and other literary traditions. By drawing attention to a range of texts often outside the purview of literary scholars, Tamara Chin rethinks the relationship between centers and margins in the Chinese tradition. How did knowledge of distant lands or other peoples shape literary imagination? How can we extend the concept of ‘text’ to material remains (such as coins)? By asking these and other absorbing questions, Chin reveals hidden connections between what at first sight appear to be disparate fields of knowledge.—Wai-yee Li, Harvard University

This book offers an utterly refreshing look at the entanglement of the economic and literary in ancient Chinese writings about exotica, foreign markets, aesthetic extravagance, and border crossing in general. Tamara Chin’s masterful exegesis ranges across the Shiji, the Hanshu, the Guanzi, and fu-rhapsody to reveal an ancient world that is at once new yet surprisingly familiar in its anxieties about lavish expenditure, quantification, economic abstraction, strange idioms, accumulations of wealth and their moral implications. Savage Exchange is a brilliant contribution to classical scholarship, comparative literature, and comparative analyses of ancient economic thought.—Lydia H. Liu, Columbia University

Tamara Chin vividly illuminates the imbrication of rhetorical idioms, literary styles, and theories of value that shaped the clash between moral philosophy and political economy at a defining moment in the construction of the Chinese empire. Savage Exchange initiates an immensely rewarding dialogue between literary analysis and economic history.—Richard von Glahn, University of California, Los Angeles

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