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Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-hsi (1974)

af Jonathan D. Spence, Emperor of China K'ang-hsi (Forfatter)

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330560,385 (3.98)4
A remarkable re-creation of the life of K'ang-hsi, emperor of the Manchu dynasty from 1661-1772, assembled from documents that survived his reign. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
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Viser 5 af 5
An fascinating window on Imperial Qing China in the words of Emperor K'ang-Hsi (reigned 1661-1722). I've never read anything like it. To think that author Spence created this "memoir" by assembling disparate fragments. The result is a dazzling continuous whole. Outstanding and highly recommended. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
A fantastic book about the greatest of the Qing Dynasty Emperors. Spence has trawled through Kang-Hsi's writings - letters, essays, edicts, poems, and put them together to give a portrait of the man speaking for himself. The book is organised around themes, rather than being a merely straightforward chronological biography.

The themes include: In Motion (Kang-Hsi's love of hunting and his war campaigns) Ruling (his ideas about power and government), Thinking (his ideas about science and philosophy, especially on his interaction with the Westerners who lived at his court), Growing Old (his ideas about ageing, death, ancestor worship), Sons (the story of his terrible relationship with the Heir Apparent) and Valedictory (his thoughts at the very end of his life and questions of the succession).

Kang-Hsi comes across as a remarkable man, one who worked himself to death for the service of China and his Dynasty and the honour of his ancestors, a man of vim and vigour and vision, and a sensitive and often profound thinker on his life and times. An excellent glimpse into the mind and life of one of China's greatest rulers, and the mentalite in which he lived. Highly recommended.

Some excerpts:

I told (my sons) how many ways there are of finding the principles of morality: though reading, through lectures, through reflection, through experience. I said: Let true reverence be in you always. This reverence means love and attention even to the smallest things. When there is nothing of importance to do, hold yourself firm with this reverence. When problems arise, use reverence in handling them. Be as attentive in the end as at the beginning, take the long view. If this becomes a habit, you will be at peace, for with this reverence in your heart the true heart will be profoundly lodged in the centre, just as the master of his own home is able to keep all his family affairs in order.

Gift for an Old Official
How many now are left
Of my old court lecturers?
I can only grieve as the decays of age
Reach ruler and minister.
Once I had great ambitions -
but they've grown so weak;
Being disillusioned by everything,
I don't bother to seek the truth.
Shrinking back I look for simple answers,
But everything seems blurred.
Complexities bring me to a halt,
Exhausting my energies.
For years past, now,
I've neglected my poetry
And, shamed as I grope for apt phrases,
Find dust on my writing brush.
( )
1 stem tomcatMurr | Feb 20, 2014 |
Non-fiction history about the second Manchu emperor of China, written as if it was his memoirs. I warmed to him in the first section; his love of hunting was obviously partially due to being able to get away from the formality and ritual of life at court for a while and get close to the people of China. On long trips he would ask veteran soldiers about their experiences, as a way of teaching the young officers travelling with him who had never been to war; he rode through provincial towns without having the roads cleared so that the common people could see him and even refused to have the cooks flogged when they forgot to bring him any rice with his meal, saying that it was a minor mistake that anyone could have made.

K'ang-hsi comes across as a ruler who is interested in everything that happens in China, is intolerant of cruelty and corruption, and considerate towards his staff and the common people of China. Although Chinese laws and ideas of justice and punishment may seem strange to modern western eyes, it is clear that he knows how to temper justice with mercy. A very interesting book. ( )
  isabelx | Mar 9, 2011 |
One of my favorite books about China, though from other reading I suspect Spence's selection from K'ang Hsi's writings makes him out to be more genial and rational
than he actually was. Still, it is a wonderfully vivid expression of what being a Manchu emperor was actually like from the inside. ( )
  antiquary | Jan 22, 2008 |
Fascinating insight to the mind of a Chinese Emperor. ( )
  moncrieff | Jul 17, 2006 |
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Spence, Jonathan D.Forfatterprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
K'ang-hsi, Emperor of ChinaForfatterhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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This book is dedicated to ARTHUR FREDRICK WRIGHT and to the memory of MARY CLABAUGH WRIGHT
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A remarkable re-creation of the life of K'ang-hsi, emperor of the Manchu dynasty from 1661-1772, assembled from documents that survived his reign. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.

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