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Out of the Cloister: Literati Perspectives on Buddhism in Sung China, 960-1279 (Harvard East Asian Monographs) Hardcover – November 14, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0674022652 ISBN-10: 0674022653

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs (Book 272)
  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Asia Center (October 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674022653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674022652
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,920,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


In this interesting and well-written study Mark Halperin paints a multi-faceted and complex picture of how members of the Song-dynasty educated elite viewed Buddhism and Buddhist institutions, and how in writing about them literati were able to express a range of opinions and critiques that went far beyond the Buddhist cloister. It is a welcome addition to a number of recent studies on the social history of the Song literati class and on elite Buddhism in the Song, but at the same time it offers an approach not attempted in any previous work. (Morten Schlutter Chinese Historical Review 2007-04-01)

About the Author

Mark Halperin is Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Davis.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Crazy Fox on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a model work of fine scholarship. Halperin has taken up some overlooked and understudied sources and explored them in depth and at length for what they tell us about the relationship between literati and Buddhist temples during the Sung dynasty, complicating previous assumptions about that relationship in the process. Instead of falling into the common pitfall of much academic writing today (grand sweeping theoretical generalizations and endless methodological mullings), he builds his case carefully and gradually from these primary sources, commemorations for temple renovation projects written by literati at the request of Buddhist monks. Confining his study to this one genre gives the book focus, but also proves intriguing in that by considering these scattered and various commemorations, a genre one might assume to be generic and dull with little to tell us, he uncovers patterns and paradoxes while unearthing large swaths of social history and significant shifts in religious attitudes and institutional development--and by the end of it, you'll never be able to blithely characterize the dynasty simplistically as one of Confucian rise and Buddhist fall ever again.

There are a lot of little things about the book too that stand out. The one chapter on T'ang dynasty commemorations serves its purpose of contrasting with the Sung dynasty commemorations so as to highlight the latter's unusual characteristics, but it's also interesting in and of itself in showing the educated layman's grasp of Buddhist doctrine and devotion to Buddhist deities.
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Out of the Cloister: Literati Perspectives on Buddhism in Sung China, 960-1279 (Harvard East Asian Monographs)
This item: Out of the Cloister: Literati Perspectives on Buddhism in Sung China, 960-1279 (Harvard East Asian Monographs)
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