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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Chinese tradition of historical writing is rich and complex. That tradition is outlined here from its earliest appearance in such canonical texts as Shangshu, Chunqiu, and Zuozhuan down to the establishment of the Tang Bureau of History in 629 and the completion of Liu Zhiji’s masterful book-length study of Chinese historiography in 710, a text that provides much of the framework for the discussion. The chapter explores such issues as the tension throughout this period between official historical writing, sponsored by the ruler and sometimes sustained by the government bureaucracy, and historical texts produced by private parties; the search for appropriate forms to recount the past; and the boundaries of “histories” in early Chinese systems of bibliographic classification.

Keywords: history, historiography, early China, history/fiction, Liu Zhiji, Sima Qian, Ban Gu

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