Physiognomy in Ming China: Fortune and the Body, Xing Wang investigates the intellectual and technical contexts in which the knowledge of physiognomy (
xiangshu) was produced and transformed in Ming China (1368-1644 C.E.). Known as a fortune-telling technique via examining the human body and material objects, Xing Wang shows how the construction of the physiognomic body in many Ming texts represent a unique, unprecedented ‘somatic cosmology’. Applying an anthropological reading to these texts and providing detailed analysis of this technique, the author proves that this physiognomic cosmology in Ming China emerged as a part of a new body discourse which differs from the modern scholarly discourse on the body.
The essays collected in
Fate and Prognostication in the Chinese Literary Imagination deal with the philosophical, psychological, gender and cultural issues in the Chinese conception of fate as represented in literary texts and films, with a focus placed on human efforts to solve the riddles of fate prediction. Viewed in this light, the collected essays unfold a meandering landscape of the popular imaginary in Chinese beliefs and customs.
The chapters in this book represent concerted efforts in research originated from a project conducted at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.
Contributors are Michael Lackner, Kwok-kan Tam, Monika Gaenssbauer, Terry Siu-han Yip, Xie Qun, Roland Altenburger, Jessica Tsui-yan Li, Kaby Wing-Sze Kung, Nicoletta Pesaro, Yan Xu-Lackner, and Anna Wing Bo Tso.
Chinese Character Manipulation in Literature and Divination, Anne Schmiedl analyses the little-studied method of Chinese character manipulation as found in imperial sources. Focusing on one of the most famous and important works on this subject, the
Zichu by Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672), Schmiedl traces and discusses the historical development and linguistic properties of this method. This book represents the first thorough study of the
Zichu and the reader is invited to explore how, on the one hand, the educated elite leveraged character manipulation as a literary play form. On the other hand, as detailed exhaustively by Schmiedl, practitioners of divination also used and altered the visual, phonetic, and semantic structure of Chinese characters to gain insights into events and objects in the material world.
Chen Guying’s Laozi dissects different versions of the Laozi and provides close readings of traditional and contemporary commentaries, from Han Fei, Wang Bi, and Heshang Gong through to Shi Deqing, Xu Kangsheng and Ding Yuanzhi. This book completely changed Laozi studies in China, where no serious student or scholar can ignore Chen’s amazing work. It is the standard interpretation of the Laozi at nearly every Chinese university.
The English translation provided here seeks to accurately reflect the detail of Chen’s meticulous work by providing multiple English translations of key characters, allowing the reader to follow complex Sinological arguments. The close “word-for-character” translation of the Laozi text enables scholars to interact with the Laozi on a level previously unavailable in English.