Gossip and anecdote may be “idle talk,” but they also serve to knit together individuals in society and to provide the materials through which literary culture and historical memory are constructed. This groundbreaking book provides a cultural history of gossip and anecdote in traditional China, beginning with the Han dynasty and ending with the Qing. The ten essays, along with the introduction and postface, address the verification, transmission, and interpretation of gossip and anecdote across literary and historical genres.
Contributors: Sarah M. Allen, Beverly J. Bossler, Jack W. Chen, Ronald Egan, Dore J. Levy, Stephen Owen, Graham Sanders, David Schaberg, Anna M. Shields, Richard E. Strassberg, Xiaofei Tian
Jack W. Chen is Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. David Schaberg is Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures and Dean of the Division of Humanities at UCLA.
“The essays in this fine collection cover a fascinating range of topics under the general rubric of ‘idle talk,’ material generally considered historically unreliable, even though it appears in histories as well as in informal writings. By making anecdotes the topic of extended reflection and, more important, by examining their role in a variety of periods and contexts, the volume breaks ground in exploring the functions of gossip in the larger Chinese tradition. The authors are among the most highly respected scholars of Chinese literature in the US. Their topics are individually important; collectively they constitute a stimulating introduction to the informality—presumed and real—of literati jottings over nearly two millennia.” Robert E. Hegel, Washington University, St. Louis