How and why did late eleventh- and early twelfth-century court politics lead to the intensification of factional conflict? Divided by a Common Language approaches this question in two ways. It offers a chronological narrative of late Northern Song court politics with an emphasis on the rise and fall of contending factions. It also proposes that language—specifically, factional rhetoric—offers an explanation for the lack of public acknowledgment of the legitimacy of factions in imperial Chinese politics.

At a time when political history is largely characterized either by absence or by desperate attempts at redefinition, this work presents itself as the first English-language study of the politics of the late Northern Song era. This period is commonly associated with the state activism of the New Policies advocated by Wang Anshi and those he inspired, and the later shift away from court-centered elite strategies. In the skillful hands of Ari Daniel Levine, chronicles...

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