In a paper that appeared some time ago, I suggested that Chang Ping-lin (1868-1936) spared the Classics by condemning the Throne. K'ang Yu-wei (1858-1927), the intellectual leader of the fin-de-siècle monarchist Reformers, had tied his radical prescriptions for Chinese society and culture to a highly personal reading of old texts, especially the Kung-yang chuan, one of two long-overshadowed alternates to the Tso-chuan as the key to the meaning of the Ch'unch'iu, the Spring and Autumn annals. His exploitation of the Kung-yang chuan, in turn, depended on the discrediting of a whole class of texts to which the Tsochuan belonged, the so-called ku-wen or “ancient-text” Classics, accepted as the orthodox canon since the end of the Later Han dynasty. Unlike the ku-wen Classics, to whose prototypes orthodox Confucian tradition attributed a pre- Ch'in antiquity, the Kung-yang chuan existed only in a Han (hence, chin-wen or “modern-text”) version, allegedly a faithful reconstruction of an early original.

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