In this first book-length critical study of Ban Gu and his works, Anthony Clark provides both biographical and historical information about Ban Gu and his political context, while also reflecting on how that context formed his portrayal of history. Clark's book argues that the precarious position court scholars and ministers occupied motivated Ban Gu to restructure long-hallowed Confucian political ideas into an entirely new notion of Heaven's Mandate (tianming). Unlike the earlier model, which held that Heaven assigned or removed its sanction based upon moral merits, Ban's new Mandate model held that the ruling dynastic family's Mandate was permanently bestowed, and thus irrevocable, regardless of the ruler's good or bad behavior. This book offers new insight to previous scholarly assumptions regarding the ancient Chinese idea of Heaven's Mandate, while also providing historical information about Ban Gu and his family during the Han dynasty. Ban Gu's History of Early China is an important book for anyone interested in the history, philosophy, and literature of early China.
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