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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A strong sense of tradition emerges in China during a period that looks with nostalgia to the past as an antidote to ongoing political and social disruption. While several versions of that past compete in the writings of the late Zhou masters, the early Zhou period and the “sage” Confucius eventually become central parts of what we might label “the dominant past.” This tradition is then formalized and institutionalized during the Han dynasty with the promotion and enhancement of a classical canon, the appearance of a vast new unifying history of China, and an official bibliography that provides structure and meaning to a growing and diverse world of textual production. Voices of dissent are heard, to be sure, but these are safely incorporated into a tradition that legitimizes invention as an important supplement to transmission.

Keywords: tradition, nostalgia, Chinese classics, dissent, invention, creation, transmission

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