The Fusion of Horizons: A Reappraisal of Chen Yinke’s Contributions to the Study of Tang History
Lu Yang;Department of History,Peking Univeristy;
Chen Yinke, one of the preeminent historians of twentieth-century China, published his two influential works on the Tang history in the early 1940 s. Since then, there has been ample discussions and assessments of his specific views on the Tang. What remains missing is an in-depth review of his theoretical approach and the historiographies and intellectual traditions that informed it. As to why he decided to concentrate on the study of medieval China, and Tang history specifically, at the height of his career still needs to be investigated. This article attempts to address these issues by asking three questions: Why did Chen choose the history of the Tang as his main research focus since the beginning of 1930 s; What are the intellectual origins of his historical research, and how these sources helped to shape his view of the Tang period; And what is the strengths and weaknesses of his works on the Tang, especially the two works from 1940 s, compared to the works of leading Japanese scholars such as Naito Konan and Hino Kaisaburo. This article stresses that Chen's decision to focus on Tang studies was not merely an academic decision. His personal experience of the late Qing society and politics profoundly shaped his interests in the Tang. This fusion of horizons is a major factor contributing to his decision to find his historian's voice through the study of the Tang.