Testimony of a Confucian Woman by Thomas L. Kennedy
The Autobiography of Mrs. Nie Zeng Jifen, 1852-1942

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Testimony of a Confucian Woman is the compelling autobiography of a woman who lived through the most dramatic changes in modern Chinese history: the fall of the Qing dynasty, the establishment of the Republic of China, and the rise of the Guomindang and the Chinese Communist party. Nie Zeng Jifen's autobiography provides an account of the changes in elite family life in China during the transition from a bureaucratic to a bourgeois society, unveiling the personal beliefs and values of a Confucian woman. Born in Beijing in the year the Taiping Revolutionary Movement swept across south China, Zeng Jifen was the daughter of Zeng Guofan, the victorious leader of the struggle against the Taipings, founder of China's first steam-powered machine industry, governor general of three of China's richest provinces, and paragon of traditional Confucian virtues. Her husband, Nie Qigui, directed the huge government-owned industrial complex founded by his father-in-law and was later a prominent official in east China. As the empire was crumbling, he launched his two sons in the textile industry in Shanghai. Widowed in 1911, Mrs. Nie assumed the role of matriarch of one of the prominent bourgeois families of twentieth-century China. The mother of twelve children, Mrs. Nie lived her ninety years in the confines of a traditional elite family, yet she found ways to extend her influence and to shape the fortunes and careers of family members at high levels of government and society. Her account of her life provides a view of traditional Chinese society under the stress of modernization and of a proud family steeped in tradition but disposed by the pressure of the times to adapt essential features of its intellectual and material heritage. It suggests important continuities between nineteenth- and twentieth-century China. Testimony of a Confucian Woman touches upon many salient features of China's history during Mrs. Nie's lifetime: regional differences, religious beliefs, education

About Thomas L. Kennedy

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Published July 1, 1993 by Univ of Georgia Pr. 240 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

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This memoir by a Chinese matriarch recalls how, as both the daughter and widow of powerful industrialists--military and government officials of the old empire--she ``steered the careers'' of her husband and sons.

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