In the last two decades, historians have studied critical social and cultural changes of the late Ming, from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, focusing on the flourishing of print culture, the emergence of women writers, and the increasing importance of material culture in defining the lifestyle of literati (Ko 1994; Brook 1998; Chow 2004; Clunas 2004). Chen Hsiu-fen's book contributes to the field by adding a new dimension: the dramatic changes in the production and circulation of ideas about nourishing life. These changes were especially remarkable in literati writings, commercially printed handbooks, and encyclopedias. “Nourishing life,” in Chinese yangsheng, was one of the many terms used by literati and commercial publishers who wrote, compiled, and published on subjects like diet, sex, gymnastics, and other daily practices. Chen uses the term “nourishing life” as an analytic...

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