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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLiu Ch'i, a belletrist of the Chin dynasty (1115-1234), recorded an eyewitness account of the fall of the Chin in his memoir, the Kuei-ch'ien-chih (The Record of One Returned to Obscurity). He was motivated by an inner logic which thematically argues that: The disintegration of effective Chin administration was a direct result of the deterioration of Chin literary standards, symptomatic of a more basic degeneration of the traditional Confucian high culture. The collapse of the Chin climaxed approximately three hundred years of rise and fall (c. 900-1234). As Jurchen tribal organization became inadequate, they imitated the Ch'i-tan model of a dualistic tribal-agrarian society and tended to adopt Chinese institutions. Dynamic decline seemed in direct proportion to the decline in Jurchen institutions. However, Liu Ch'i observed this decline and its climax in the fall of the Chin capital, K'aifeng, and thought that the Chin failed for not fully adopting Chinese ones. His memoir, Kuei-ch'ien-chih, was transmitted from its writing in 1235 to the present edition, the Chung-hua shu-chu Yuan-Ming shi-k'o pi-cho ts'ung-k'an, collated by Ts'ui Wen-yin (second edition 1983). Liu Ch'i illustrates his themes with Chin pesonalities portraying the union of ability-aspiration-achievement to mean the highest combination of traditional Confucian values. He quickly attentuates this theme in the succeeding chuan to show possible variations of failure in a descending taxonomy. In his seventh chuan, Liu Ch'i argues that since the Chin dynasty limited their literary focus of the civil service examinations solely upon the lyric, the prose-poem, and the commentary on the classics, the source of potential leadership, the chin-shih, became intellectually effete leasing to a degeneration in political dynamics. Liu Ch'i's personal rationalization was one of confident expectation despite an involvement in drafting a testimonial to Ts'ui Li, who had betrayed K'aifeng to the Mongols. He felt that time and circumstance were cyclical in nature and that he had fulfilled his destiny and his duty. Liu Ch'i's memoir warrants a closer examination in its entirety to appreciate its inner, thematic logic and a translation of the preface and first three chapters is presented as a preliminary to the full translation.
Degree ProgramOriental Studies