The "supplementary" historian? Li Zhao's Guo shi bu as mid-tang political and social critique

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This article examines the Tang dynasty anecdote collection Guo shi bu (Supplement to the History of the State), compiled by Li Zhao (?-after 827) in part as a critique of imperial government and elite social mores of the early decades of the ninth century. A quantitative analysis of topic frequency and distribution in the collection reveals Li Zhao's techniques for depicting the corruption or political brilliance of the reigns of Tang emperors, as well as his admiration of powerful aristocratic clans, and his disdain for social climbing, perspectives that likely stemmed from his experiences as an official in Xianzong's court and his elite family background. Understanding the organization, underlying themes, and structure of individual anecdotes of the Guo shi bu allows us to see the ways that anecdotes and "miscellaneous" histories ultimately shaped official accounts of the Tang dynasty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-447
Number of pages41
JournalT'oung Pao
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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