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The Fugitive Self: Writing Zheng Xiaoxu, 1882–1938

  • Marjorie Dryburgh

Abstract

Bureaucrat, calligrapher and — latterly — wartime collaborator Zheng Xiaoxu kept a diary between 1882 and his death in 1938. In daily entries that run to nearly 2,000,000 characters,1 he charted a life that encompassed service in the imperial bureaucracy before the 1911 revolution, retirement and then a return to officialdom as premier of the Japanese puppet state of Manzhouguo. At first reading, the diary offers a wealth of fragmentary insights into the political and social life of one elite Chinese male in the late empire and early Republic. At the same time, the trajectory of Zheng’s career allows us to examine his progress from the public service, structured by largely Confucianised values, that was expected of his generation, through the shocks and disappointments of his middle age, to the transgres- sive and highly stigmatised political choices that led him to wartime collaboration with the Japanese.

Keywords

State Council Qing Dynasty Diary Entry Scarlet Fever Political Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Zheng Xiaoxu, Riji (Diary), 5 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1993).Google Scholar
  2. Lynn Struve, ‘Chimerical Early Modernity: The Case of “Conquest-Generation” Memoirs’, in Lynn Struve, ed., The Qing Formation in World-Historical Time (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2004)Google Scholar
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    Paul John Eakin, Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011), 22–31Google Scholar
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    Marjorie Dry burgh, ‘Rewriting Collaboration: China, Japan and the Self in the Diaries of Bai Jianwu’, journal of Asian Studies 68.3 (2009): 689–714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-fashioning: from More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 2–9Google Scholar
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    Howard L. Boorman and Richard C. Howard, eds., Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967), 271–272Google Scholar
  7. Reginald Johnston, Twilight in the Forbidden City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 342–343Google Scholar
  8. Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, From Emperor to Citizen: The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, tr. W.J.F. Jenner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 140–162Google Scholar
  9. Xu Linjiang, Zheng Xiaoxu qian ban shengpingzhuan (Critical biography of Zheng Xiaoxu: his early life) (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe 2003).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Marjorie Dryburgh 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie Dryburgh

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