Abstract

To use a word from the K'ai-feng dialect, a title like mine must seem a classic expression of chutzpah. “Will Sinology do?” indeed! What could possibly excuse the pursed lips, the nanny-ish condescension to his betters, on the part of someone who has not even gone through the Sinological mill? I should say at the start, then, that “Sinology,” in my reading, is something of a straw man. He is not Maspero. He is not Fritz Mote. But I am not sure (mumbling) that he is not Paul Pelliot, in some of his work. The Sinology that means control of texts is a wonderful means but a weak end. It was a healthy corrective to free-floating literary chinoiserie. Yet, if we may now take the professional standing of the Chinese field as granted, the time is past for texts to be used for spiritual athletics, ascetic proofs of honesty, and thoroughness in the abstract. We need to be honest and thorough not in marching and counter-marching through the literature “because it is there,” but because it relates to intellectual problems, to more than methodology.

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