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"Shuihu zhuan" and the Military Subculture of the Northern Song, 960-1127

Paul Jakov Smith
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Dec., 2006), pp. 363-422
DOI: 10.2307/25066819
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25066819
Page Count: 60
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Abstract

From the perspective of a social historian, Paul Jakov Smith examines how the great Ming dynasty novel "Shuihu zhuan" (Water margin) illuminates forgotten byways of Northern Song society. Despite a separation of five centuries between the received version of "Shuihu zhuan" and the events it portrays, Smith is able to use its depiction of arms instructors and swashbuckling manorial lords as a prompt for exploring a Northern Song military subculture, alternately suppressed and abetted by the state, that lies dormant in the Song sources themselves. By comparing the historical world of the Song dynasty and the fictional world of the novel, Smith reveals how "Shuihu" straddles the cultural milieux of both the mid- and late-imperial eras and marks the culmination of the Song-Yuan-Ming transition.

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