Cover

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Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. v

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

This project began as a joyful bout of reading stories from the Tang dynasty (618–907), followed by trying to make some sense of the freshness and wonder I found in them. My initial question had been quite simply, “Why are these stories so different from what came before...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-23

This book is about the interconnection between an urban space and a group of writers who came through its fold during their formative years. In this sense the city in question, depicted through meandering trajectories rather than immutable essences, exists with these writers in a...

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Chapter One. Narrating Liminality and Transformation

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pp. 24-43

When—and how—does one become a man in full? Of central interest to this chapter is how this transition is envisioned for men of letters in the Tang. If the cultural elite was increasingly made and not born—an important shift that would continue well into the Song—then...

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Chapter Two. The Lure of Chang’an

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pp. 44-67

Just as examination recruitment changed the collective discourse on the meaning of becoming established for literati men, as detailed in chapter 1, the capital city of Chang’an shifted the configurations of how they thought about where to go, where to prosper, and where to...

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Chapter Three. Navigating the City Interior

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pp. 68-87

Experiences with space shape both the perception of the self and the production of text by writing subjects. Even when the physical space in question has long vanished, as in the case of Tang Chang’an, the various ways in which Tang writers have perceived the self in space remain...

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Chapter Four. Staging Talent in Urban Arenas

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pp. 88-111

For an aspirant, Chang’an brought together one’s social betters, one’s peers, and networks of appraisers and arbiters in examination culture at large. From recorded anecdotes of degree seekers active during the last decades of the ninth century, we get a sense that an important aspect of establishing...

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Chapter Five. Negotiating the Pleasure Quarters

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pp. 112-134

No book on the relationship between Chang’an and literati aspirants would be complete without some discussion of the capital’s pleasure quarters—a city within a city that captures the pitfalls and bounties the capital city offers an aspiring man of letters. Pingkang Ward, also known...

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Epilogue

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pp. 135-138

When Gaston Bachelard coined the term “topoanalysis” to mean a “systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives,”1 he had in mind interior, domestic spaces, those that are far smaller in scale than the various urban space of Tang Chang’an. Yet the nooks and crannies...

Notes

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pp. 139-166

Glossary

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pp. 167-172

Bibliography

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pp. 173-186

Index

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pp. 187-198