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Models of Authorship and Text-making in Early China


This dissertation aims to show how the author functioned as the key to classifying, preserving, and interpreting a body of ancient knowledge; the author not only served as a foundation upon which different elements of knowledge were brought together, but also as furnished cues to the interpretation of composite texts and thus created a notional coherence in texts. On a deeper level, the inquiry of early Chinese authorship also sheds light on the ritual, religious, and sociopolitical contexts influencing authorial attributions and on how such attributions are associated with early Chinese intellectual history in general.

I argue in Chapter One that the figure of the Yellow Emperor was forged out of the Eastern Zhou ritual and religious thought that bears the mark of the ancestral veneration of high antiquity while at the same time reflecting the concerns of the changing social realities of the time.

I argue in Chapter Two that the written materials later incorporated into the Lunyu originally served different purposes and were interpreted differently in different contexts. The compilation of the Lunyu in the early Western Han was concomitant with the trend of elevating and mythicizing Confucius as the creator of the Han governmental ideology because he filled the need for a tangible, quotable authority.

Chapter Three argues that the "Yaolüe," the last chapter of the extant Huainanzi, was composed after Liu An's death as the means to impart a cohesive unity to the writings left from Liu An's Huainan court. It further explores the relationship between the patron-author and the actual writers or compilers.

In Chapter Four I argue that neither of the two documents is autobiographical account written by Sima Qian. Instead, the voice of frustration conveyed in these two sources should be understood as the collective voice of the Han intellectuals.

In Chapter Five I suggest that in the study of early Chinese translations of Buddhist texts we cannot view early catalogues of Buddhist translations as historical records; instead, we need to explore why and under what circumstances those catalogues were compiled. The intention to differentiate "true," "authentic" translations from apocryphal sutras was one of the most important factors motivating the cataloguing of early translated Buddhist scriptures.

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