This book deals with the ru, a word too often understood as a reference to ‘Confucian literati‘. The study consists of two parts. In the first part the author discusses the problem of the origins of the ru and presents the main hypotheses offered by modern Chinese scholars in this respect. The second part examines the status and nature of a number of ru at a very important period in their history, namely the Qin dynasty and the early Han dynasty (3rd to 2nd centuries B.C.), with the interpretation of famous episodes such as the ‘execution of literati’ in 212, and the so-called ‘victory of Confucianism’ one century later.
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