A gem – Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy

This book published in 1964 is a gem. Jointly sponsored by Harvard University and Yale University it contains writings and articles by Etienne Balazs published in the 1930s to 1950s. Balazs, a Hungarian, was a doyen of Chinese history from the fall of the Han dynasty to the Age of Disunion.

Gems are articles on two poems composed by Cao Cao {page 173} and Marco Polo in Peking {p79}.

The poems showed that Cao Cao was an accomplished poet. Each line in his poem bears an allusion to a famous historical fact or cultural significance. A reader must be steeped in Chinese history and culture to appreciate these 2 poems. Balazs has helpfully provided annotations.

The article on Marco Polo includes references and quotes from three books by Chinese who were contemporaries of Marco Polo.

As the books cited here are in Chinese, the collection of articles here is a gem to English speaking readers.

It is a joy to read this book during Chinese New Year 2020. I knew and bought this book based on a footnote in the excellent China between Empires by Mark Edward Lewis.

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