In this beautifully crafted study of one emblematic life, Harrison addresses large themes in Chinese history while conveying with great immediacy the textures and rhythms of everyday life in the countryside in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
Liu Dapeng was a provincial degree-holder who never held government office. Through the story of his family, the author illustrates the decline of the countryside in relation to the cities as a result of modernization and the transformation of Confucian ideology as a result of these changes. Based on nearly 400 volumes of Liu's diary and other writings, the book illustrates what it was like to study in an academy and to be a schoolteacher, the pressures of changing family relationships, the daily grind of work in industry and agriculture, people's experience with government, and life under the Japanese occupation.
About the author
Henrietta Harrison is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds.
"The richness of this compelling and riveting book cannot be encompassed in a short review. It is fortunate for us that Harrison brings to life a vanished world of family, work, and land and shows how these elements connect to the region, nation, and world in a time of remarkable political and economic transformations in Asia."
"It should be on any short-list of 'necessary' books on modern China."
—American Historical Review
"The Man Awakened from Dreams is a skillfully crafted book that deserves a wide readership....[It] is a splendid example of the value of studying particular individuals, areas and events to expand, refine and enliven the relatively abstract generalizations of more broadly based studies."
—The China Journal
"...eye-opening....Harrison does nothing less than open up for us a whole new world."
—Journal of Asian Studies
"A tour de force of originality, clarity, and skillful organization....this tome deserves praise as a significant addition to the scholarship of modern Chinese history."
—Chinese Historical Review
"This is a lovely book: sharp, human, meticulously theorized, and informative."
—The China Review