Eugenia Lean's important new monograph provides an alternative perspective on the processes of industrialization and technological change in early twentieth-century China. In Vernacular Industrialism in China, Lean follows the career of man of letters and entrepreneur Chen Diexian, shedding light on the informal practices of experimentation and manufacturing that Chen employed in building a successful cosmetics business. Chen was born in 1879 to an affluent family that resided near Hangzhou. He received a traditional classical education and subsequently passed the imperial examinations at the county level. While Chen at first served as a low-level official for a few years, he also began writing poetry and fiction and established a publishing house, a newspaper, and a business selling scientific equipment in Hangzhou. During his years in Hangzhou, he started to discuss new technologies in his poetry and conduct scientific experiments. In 1913, he moved to Shanghai, where he further developed...

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