death of woman Wang----a picture of real lives
The death of woman Wang is written by Jonathan D. Spence, a famous scholar of East Asian studies. This book is focus on the early days of Qing dynasty, when Qing dynasty had only been established for about 20 years, the government, even though the whole society, are in their infancies. The author discusses issues of a small county in northeastern China ---T’an-ch’eng, which is in the province of Shantung. The genre of this book is difficult to be identified; it consists of a component of fiction, since the author describes a large number of stories; as well as a component of historical reconstruction, since the author introduces the county’s environment and events according to reliable historical resources. From a reader’s perspective, I find this work fascinating. The author achieves a great success in characterizing the society, and throws valuable topics to think about. The author’s theme is to use a sketch of low-hierarchy people’s lives in a small place to bring out a large topic: the social state of Shantung in early Qing. The term “low-hierarchy people” refers to people at the base level of the society, such as farmers, workers, and their wives. Four main aspects were chosen to be discussed in detail: the working and tax collection on the land, the living situation of a special group---widows, the burst of violence, and a story of a woman named Wang. In each of these aspects, Spence gives an introduction of the background, and uses several stories and related policies to draw readers a picture of different cases. Spence’s purpose is not only explaining what the people’s lives like, but also exposing crises of the society, including the nature disasters, the lack of the law system, the corruption of the local governments, and the conflicts between landlords and land workers, robbers and villagers, the wealthy individuals and poor people. In addition, making readers realize the tension between...
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