Yang Kuan (1914 − September 1, 2005) was a Chinese historian
specializing in pre-
Qin Dynasty Chinese history. He is considered an
authority of the Warring States period, and his History of the Warring
States, first published in 1955, remains the most authoritative
treatment of the subject.
1 Early life and education
2 Doubting Antiquity School
5 Later life
Early life and education
Yang Kuan was born in Qingpu County,
Jiangsu Province (now Qingpu
District of Shanghai) in 1914. He attended the prestigious Suzhou High
School, whose teachers included famous scholars
Lü Shuxiang and
Ch'ien Mu, one of the greatest historians of modern China.
After high school Yang attended Kwang Hua University in
Shanghai − a
predecessor of today's
East China Normal University
East China Normal University − and graduated
in 1936 with a degree in Chinese. At Kwang Hua he also studied history
under the prominent historian Lü Simian.
Doubting Antiquity School
Yang Kuan gained fame at a young age. In 1933, aged 19, he published
his first essay Probing the Legend of Pangu. In 1939, just three years
after graduating from college, Yang was invited by Gu Jiegang, founder
of the Doubting Antiquity School, to contribute to Gu's influential
compilation Debates on Ancient History (古史辨). In 1941, Yang's
book-size Introduction to China's High Antiquity was published as part
of the seventh and last volume of the Debates on Ancient History.
Yang is generally considered a member of the Doubting Antiquity
School, as he argued that the pre-
Xia Dynasty history recorded in
ancient texts was "historization" of prehistoric mythology, a position
that is widely accepted by today's historians. However, he disagreed
Gu Jiegang and Kang Youwei's view that ancient scholars such as
Liu Xin deliberately introduced falsehoods into
historical texts, and held the opinion that it was a long process of
natural evolution of ancient mythology. Gu later changed his position
and accepted Yang's view. Yang further differed from Gu in that he
also believed that the extant history of the
Xia Dynasty was pure
Yang Kuan was appointed curator of
Shanghai Museum, a position
he continued to hold after the Communist People's Republic of China
replaced the Republic of China in 1949. In 1953 he joined the faculty
Fudan University as a history professor. In 1960 he was
made the deputy head of the history department of the
of Social Sciences, but returned to
Fudan University in 1970.
Yang Kuan published his most influential work, History of the Warring
States, in 1955. In 1980, a greatly expanded second edition was
completed, with major revisions based on new archaeological
discoveries made during the intervening decades. He made further
revisions in the third edition of 1985. This work is widely considered
the most authoritative treatment of the subject, and was included in
the official China Chronology Series (中国断代史系列). Another
work by Yang, History of the Western Zhou, was also included in the
series. In total
Yang Kuan published more than a dozen books and
Yang Kuan moved to the United States, settling in Miami,
Florida. He continued to write in the US, and published an
autobiography. He died in
Miami on September 1, 2005, aged 91.
^ a b c d e f Wei Chengsi (2011-05-23). "我的史学启蒙老师".
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^ a b Zhang Jinghua, Zhang Li; et al. (July 2003).
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二十世纪疑古思潮 (in Chinese). Retrieved 2012-04-27.
^ Richter, Ursula (June 1994). "Historical Scepticism in the New
Gu Jiegang and the "Debate on Ancient History"" (PDF).
Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Retrieved
2012-04-28. pp. 373–374.
^ "中国断代史系列编纂完成 历经五十年 总共十六部
一千余万字". China Academy of Social Science. 2003-06-18.
^ "Yang Kuan". Ewen. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
ISNI: 0000 0000 8204 3071