Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »
The argument has not yet been resolved as to what manner of man was Wang An-shih. An unusual reformer, his role in history has become so confused that he has been considered a misguided Confucianist, a foresighted statesman, and a dictatorial politician.
James T. C. Liu’s study of late Northern Sung China provides new material about Wang and his “new policies” which had many strikingly modern features. Wang lived in the eleventh century when Confucianism reached a new height, when its principles found more active application in the nearly model state of the Northern Sung period than the periods either before or after. Yet this Confucian state encountered numerous difficult problems which demanded fundamental reorganization of government institutions and radical departure from normal policy, and Wang’s ideas met with violent opposition from various officials.
Liu stresses the stage of development of political theories and the evolution of political institutions at the time when Wang and his new policies became important. He shows Wang’s position with regard to Confucian thought, and how he dealt with the bureaucracy which existed in various forms.
Liu concludes that Wang was an institutional reformer and a “bureaucratic idealist,” who attempted to use bureaucratic machinery in developing government-initiated institutional frameworks to further realization of the Confucian ideal in attitudes of common people toward political, economic, and social matters, in addition to personal ethics.