Ou-Yang Hsiu: An Eleventh-Century Neo-Confucianist
Author: James T. C. Liu
Publisher: Stanford: Stanford University Press (1967)
The subject of this study is known as one of the most distinguished Chinese writers as well as a classical scholar, archaeologist, historian, bibliographer, political theorist, and statesman, to name only the more important of his activities. Posterity has, with some notable exceptions, given him fulsome praise, but no full study had appeared until now which tool account of all the main aspects of his work and placed it in historical perspective. This book, which is a revised version of the author's Ou-yang Hsiu ti chih-hsueh yu ts'ung-cheng (1963) sets out to close this gap.
Professor Liu begins with a brief but valuable description of the historical setting and the new forms of society and culture against which the work of Ou-yang Hsiu has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The next four chapters deal with his early career, the minor reform and his part in it, the debates on factionalism and criticism of the administration, and his late career. In these chapters, the biography is skillfully woven into the historical picture. There follow chapters on Ou-yang Hsiu's contribution and attitudes to classical scholarship, historiography, political theory, literature and religion. From this account Ou-yang Hsiu emerges not only as a pioneer in a number of fields but also as a rounded, lively, and attractive personality, all the more credible and human because his weaknesses are not concealed. If the book adds more to our knowledge of Ou-yang Hsiu's political ideas and practice than to that of his contributions to literature this is as much due to the preoccupations of previous scholars with the latter as to Professor Liu's own special interests as a historian of political ideas and institutions.