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Beacon Fire and Shooting Star


The Liang dynasty (502-557) is one of the most brilliant and creative periods in Chinese history and one of the most underestimated and misunderstood. Under the Liang, literary activities, such as writing, editing, anthologizing, and cataloguing, were pursued on an unprecedented scale, yet the works of this era are often dismissed as "decadent" and no more than a shallow prelude to the glories of the Tang.

This book is devoted to contextualizing the literary culture of this era--not only the literary works themselves but also the physical process of literary production such as the copying and transmitting of texts; activities such as book collecting, anthologizing, cataloguing, and various forms of literary scholarship; and the intricate interaction of religion, particularly Buddhism, and literature. Its aim is to explore the impact of social and political structure on the literary world.

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About the Author

Xiaofei Tian is Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University.


The Liang is usually remembered (if for anything) for court, or palace ("gongti"), poetry, which scholars have traditionally looked down on as lascivious and decadent...Tian offers a fascinating, refreshing reading of many heretofore undervalued poems.--C. D. Smith"Choice" (05/01/2008)

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