Monday, December 3

Quiz 2 in class today, covering readings 4.1, 4.4, 4.8, and 4.9

Reading assignment:  Sima Qian and Our View of Early China

As we will turn to our closing classes, we will step to the side of our main source for Han history, the Shiji, to consider the goals and character of its author, Sima Qian, and the relation between the historian, and the account of the past provided by his great work.

Alongside Sima Qian's own view of the role of the historian, we'll consider the impact of the anguished state in which he completed his book, which he recounted in a poignant letter to his friend Ren An.  In that letter, translated in your online readings, Sima Qian explains to his friend, a man facing certain death at Wu-di's hands, how he, Sima Qian, endured the even greater anguish that Wu-di's punishment inflicted on him, out of a devotion to the mission of the historian.