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Reviews 137© 1995 by University ofHawai'i Press Robert P. Hymes and Conrad Schirokauer, editors. Ordering the World: Approaches to State and Society in SungDynasty China. Studies on China, 16. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Oxford: University ofCalifornia Press, 1993. xiv, 437 pp. Hardcover $50.00. History informs us that numerous Chinese dynasties have suffered the ignominious fate ofhaving been divided both geographically and temporally by the forcible incursions ofhostile non-Chinese groups. Yet, none ofthese "divided" dynasties has attracted more comment from virtually every historical vantage point— whether institutional, social, or intellectual—than the Song, which contemporary scholars have come to divide into a "northern" (960-1126) and a "southern" (1127-1278) manifestation. In the newest contribution to the esteemed series of ACLS-SSRC-sponsored conference volumes, ten scholars, most ofwhom are specialists in either period, have continued what has now become a tradition of commentary on this unique dynastic bifurcation by joining forces to produce a work of remarkable consequence. As readers, we can readily discern die direction of the authors' efforts from the book's main title, Ordering the World, which itselfis a very serviceable translation ofthe classical termjingshi (ISiË)—indirectiy appropriated, via the Northern Song philosopher Shao Yong (101 1-1077), from the book ofZhuangzi. By immediately presenting this term as their touchstone in their introduction and by emphasizing its connotations as a verb wherever possible thereafter, the editors Robert Hymes and Conrad Schirokauer quickly set the tone and die parameters ofall subsequent discourse, since jingshi, in essence, is nothing less than "die impulse to order and repair the world institutionally" (p. 36). Moreover, the editors' choice of this term is salutary because it helps the reader to identify and isolate die diree interwoven themes (or, really, processes of fundamental change) that all of the essays, to one degree or another, address. In ascending order of importance and controversy, these are, first, the Song sources for the perceived millenniumlong secular decline ofdie Chinese state (a view initially promoted by G. William Skinner); second, die extension of die well-known economic and social transformation recognized as die "Tang-Song transition" well into the Song era; and diird, the Southern Song elite abandonment of the nationally based political framework and agenda oftiieir northern predecessors in favor of a political self-perception that was much more locally based (a view first expounded convincingly by Robert Hartwell). Schirokauer and Hymes' introduction also incorporates a discussion of die viability ofinterpretative language (based on J.G.A. Pocock's hypothesis) and some reflections on the ideal and real loci of political authority. Throughout these 138 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 latter sections, we are apprised of die finer points of the individuai autìiors' contributions to these and odier issues. Ordering the Worldbegins in earnest with diree essays devoted to establishing the state-dominated Northern Song context out ofwhich the more locally based political culture of the Southern Song emerged. The essays are on key aspects of the sociopolitical visions ofSu Xun (1009-1066), Wang Anshi (1021-1086), and Wang and Sima Guang (1019-1086) and are authored by George Hatch, Paul Smith, and Peter BoI, respectively. Each author, emphasizing a different but complementary approach or set of approaches toward die same end, accomplishes his task commendably. Through a literary-biographical approach, George Hatch makes the case for the unfolding of die centrist Su Xun's pragmatism with respect to "the ground of political action" (p. 74) and thereby demonstrates that die intensely localized political activism and social engagement that is thought more characteristic ofthe Southern Song was not without faint Northern Song precedents. In his prime, Su, more adamantiy than most ofhis contemporaries, precluded any intersection between state and society. But Hatch determines that, over the course of a career spent on the remote fringes ofthe spotlight ofpower, Su acquired a grudging respect for the power of the periphery, passing "from an infatuation with the timing of the strategic moment to an awareness that political action is taken within the context of complex historical tendencies" (p. 72). Paul Smith's institutionally focused essay uses Wang Anshi's statecraft—as exhibited in two ofhis wide-ranging reforms (the little...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 137-142
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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