Ruan Yuan, 1764–1849

The Life and Work of a Major Scholar-Official in Nineteenth-Century China before the Opium War

(阮元(1764年至1849年): 十九世紀中國鴉片戰爭前的生活和工作的主要官方學者)

Betty Peh-T’i Wei

ISBN : 978-962-209-785-8


August 2006

422 pages, 6″ x 9″, 7 b&w illus.; 6 maps; 1 figure & 14 tables

  • HK$395.00
No longer available

This book explores the life and work of Ruan Yuan (1764–1849), a scholar-official of renown in mid-Qing China prior to the Opium War, before traditional institutions and values became altered by incursions from the West. His distinction as an official, scholar, and patron of learning has been recognized by both his contemporaries and modern scholars. He was also exulted as an honest official and an exemplary man of the ‘Confucian persuasion’. His name is mentioned in almost all the works on Qing history or Chinese classics because of the wide range of his research and publications. A number of these publications are still being reprinted today.

This is the first full-length biography of Ruan Yuan in English, and the only one focusing on all aspects of the man’s life and work in the context of his time. It follows Ruan Yuan from his childhood in Yangzhou, expansion of his intellectual horizons and political network in Beijing, his long service in the provinces handling some of the most thorny issues of the day in security and control, to the glory as a senior statesman in the capital, and retirement in Yangzhou.

Betty Peh-T’i Wei is a research historian currently holding honorary appointments at the Institute of Qing History of People’s University, Beijing, and the Centre of Asian Studies and the Department of History, the University of Hong Kong. Her research interest is focused on the early nineteenth-century China, Europe, and the United States. Now retired as Head of Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, she has remained active in research and writing. Her research on Ruan Yuan has taken her to libraries in Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“For her biography of Ruan Yuan, Dr Betty Peh-T’i Wei has scoured the world for new materials, visiting a dozen cities and as many libraries on three continents. She has tracked down and talked—sometimes in the Yangzhou dialect—with Ruan descendants, gaining access to family lore both written and oral. Her book, based on published and archival sources, adds new dimensions to our knowledge of this important figure.” —Beatrice S. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus, Yale University

“This solid biography of Ruan Yuan will be must reading for any Qing or late imperial historian, and would be an important addition to the library of any modern or late imperial historian. Based on meticulous use of numerous archives, this book will define the history and intellectual agenda of the early nineteenth century. Hong Kong University Press is to be congratulated for taking on this project and for making this important research available to the public.” —R. Kent Guy, Professor of History and East Asian Studies, University of Washington