Interview with Everyone | The Communication between Famous Historian an Zuozhang and Deng Guangming

2020-07-04 | By Historian | Filed in: Character.
Mr. an Zuozhang

On February 20, 2019, Chang’an Zuozhang, a famous historian, former vice-chairman of the China Qin and Han Dynasties History Research Association, vice-chairman of the Shandong Provincial History Association, vice-chairman of the Shandong Local Chronicles Association, and institute of ancient books collation of Shandong Normal University, died. As a historian who was engaged in the study of the history of Qin and Han Dynasties earlier after the founding of New China and made outstanding achievements, he is praised as “a master of the history of Qin and Han Dynasties” and “an important city in the field of history of Qin and Han Dynasties today”. His books such as “Historical Draft of Official System of Qin and Han Dynasties”, “Study of Official Law of Qin and Han Dynasties”, “Biography of Emperor Qin Shihuang”, “Biography of Ban Gu-A Generation of Good Officials” and “Biography of Liu Bang” are highly praised by the academic circles.

People know that an Zuozhang’s academic career began with Guangming Daily. However, who knew the truth and published the article of an Zuozhang, a 27-year-old and little-known “little guy”? It is Deng Guangming, a famous historian “Song Shi Da Dou”. Deng Guangming, a native of Linyi, Dezhou, Shandong Province (1907-1998), graduated from the Department of History of Peking University in 1936. He has served as assistant and senior assistant of the Liberal Arts Research Institute of Peking University, professor of the Department of History and Geography of Fudan University, director and head of the Research Office of Ancient Chinese History of Peking University, member of the Presidium of the Chinese History Association, and president of the Chinese Song History Association. His major works include Annotations to the Chronology of Jia Xuan’s Ci, Wang Anshi, a Political Reformer in the Northern Song Dynasty, Biography of Yue Fei, Complete Works of Deng Guangming, etc. An Zuozhang wrote in a recollection article: “Mr. Zhang’s name and his contribution to the study of the history of the Song Dynasty were heard as early as 1948 when I was a sophomore in the history department of Qilu University, when Mr. Zhang Weihua, a practitioner, taught the history of the Song and Yuan Dynasties. It can be said that I admire Mr. Zhang’s personality and scholarly research very much. Although I have no chance to meet him, my heart yearns for him.”

In 1951, after graduating from an Zuozhang University, he was assigned to the History Department of Shandong Normal University (now Shandong Normal University) as a teaching assistant. Besides teaching, he was also engaged in research work. As he focused on the history of Qin and Han Dynasties when he was in college, his graduation thesis was also “Research on Agricultural Economic History of Western Han Dynasty”. By the spring of 1954, he had written almost 10 articles one after another. However, due to the few historical publications in the 1950s, it was very difficult to publish papers, especially for the little-known “little people” like him. At this time, he thought of Mr. Deng Guangming, who was the editor-in-chief of the “History” edition of Guangming Daily at that time, and summoned up the courage to send the article “Northwest Reclamation in the Western Han Dynasty” to Deng Guangming with a letter for advice. To his complete surprise, less than a month later, the article was published in the historical edition of Guangming Daily on February 20, 1954. “This is the first time in my life that I have published a paper publicly, and it is published in the only special issue of history in the national newspaper. After reading it, I really felt like climbing the Dragon Gate. Soon, I sent another article entitled “On the Establishment and Function of Agricultural Officials in the Western Han Dynasty”, which was soon published in the historical edition of Guangming Daily on May 27, 1954. “Within three months, two articles were published in Guangming Daily in succession, which was very rare for the younger generation of historians at that time.” When he later recalled this experience, his excitement was still beyond words.


Mr TANG Kwong-ming
An Zuozhang, a 27-year-old young student, was even more heartened by the fact that the above two papers were published in the first-class newspapers and periodicals in China and had a certain influence. In the autumn of this year, Zhang Min, editor-in-chief of Shanghai People’s Publishing House (formerly East China People’s Publishing House), came to Jinan and found his dormitory in person, naming him to write a manuscript on the history of the Han Dynasty. “It is said that this is the treatment of senior experts, unexpectedly fell on me this has not yet come out of the thatched cottage epigenetic head, I am simply flattered. I immediately promised to select some manuscripts from the existing manuscripts and give them to them, and to draw up the title “A Preliminary Study on the History of the Han Dynasty”. This little book was printed in 14,000 copies in 1955 and around 1957. Later, I heard many young scholars of the same generation and the next generation say to me that they have read this book, which shows that it is still popular with readers to a certain extent. “

On the day of receiving the sample book published by “A Preliminary Study of Han History”, An Zuozhang immediately sent Deng Guangming a copy, one expressing his gratitude to Mr. Second, they are willing to continue to ask Mr. Wang for advice. Because he knew very well: “It would be very difficult to have such a result without the Bole’s forensics and cultivation of Mr. Deng, a master historian.” Soon he received a reply from Deng Guangming, learning that Mr. Deng not only read the book through, but also put forward many specific and pertinent opinions.

The kindness of dripping water should be reciprocated by Yongquan. An Zuozhang has always remembered Mr. Deng’s support, instruction and kindness in knowing the situation and will never forget it. In “A Preliminary Study on the History of the Han Dynasty” and “Postscript to Publication”, an Zuozhang mentioned the matter in “Collected Works of Commemorative Works of Zhang Weihua” published by Qilu Book Company and “Readme of Chinese Social Scientists” compiled by Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council and published by Shanghai Education Publishing House to show his memory and respect for the historical sages.

Here, the author thinks it is necessary to introduce the special issue of Guangming Daily Historiography. The special issue of Historiography was founded on April 30, 1953. It is the earliest and longest-published special issue of the newspaper. The editorial board of Historiography is composed of the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Department of History of Peking University and the Department of History of Beijing Normal University. It is composed of Fan Wenlan, Jian Bozan, Chen Yuan, Rong Mengyuan, Bai Shouyi, Deng Guangming and others. Each of the three has one editor-in-chief. The Institute of Modern History is Rong Mengyuan, Peking University is Deng Guangming, and Beijing Normal University is Bai Shouyi. At that time, however, such a large newspaper could not provide an office for the special issue of Historiography. After Deng Guangming suggested that the office be moved to an office in the History Department of Peking University, and Fan Wenlan, Jian Bozan and others decided through negotiation that the editing of Historiography would be the sole responsibility of the History Department of Peking University. Chen Qinghua and Zhang Jiqian of Peking University are responsible for editing Historiography under the leadership of Deng Guangming. For more than ten years, Deng Guangming participated in the editorial board of Historiography from beginning to end.

When Deng Guangming edited the special issue of Historiography, according to the policy of “letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend”, he organized many discussions on academic issues, promoted academic contention in the field of historiography, and published many articles with high academic value, which made great contributions to the prosperity of Chinese academic research and the development of historical science. Mu Xin, former chief executive of Guangming Daily, recalled: “Deng Guangming spent his whole life studying and teaching, and was full of peaches and plums. He also attached great importance to training talents when he presided over the editing of the special issue of Historiography. The special issue of Historiography has contacted many young authors successively. He handled their contributions very carefully, encouraged them to exercise in the practice of participating in academic discussions, and trained many young experts and scholars for the history circle. At present, some famous historians started their research work from the garden of the special issue of Historiography. Their scientific research ability has also been trained in all previous academic discussions organized. They made their mark in the special issue of Historiography and then received social attention. “

In this regard,Deng Guangming himself was pleased to mention this point: “Although editing the special issue of Historiography is not our full-time job, we are serious about reviewing and picking up foreign manuscripts. We will never decide whether to adopt manuscripts or not based on the popularity of contributors. Therefore, there are several young historians whose first paper was published in the special issue of Historiography, and they were encouraged to move forward and become the backbone of historiography research after publishing several papers in the special issue of Historiography. This kind of thing is often induced by us to masturbate. “

Here we can draw a conclusion: An Zuozhang was the first paper published in the special issue of Historiography, “and was encouraged to move forward and become the backbone of research in the field of historiography”. The first meeting between an Zuozhang and Deng Guangming was in the spring of 1973. In 1973, he went to Beijing to visit and study with several comrades from the Teaching and Research Section of Ancient Chinese History in the History Department of Mountain Teachers. The first professor he visited was Deng Guangming of Peking University. A few years later, An Zuozhang still clearly remembered that when he saw him, he mentioned the book “A Preliminary Study on the History of the Han Dynasty” in his first words, and even said: “He has a lot of kung fu” and “he has to work hard to learn”. He knew that Deng Guangming “these are all encouraging words, but they are also the style of study that Mr. Deng has always advocated and practiced.”

Not only that, in the future an Zuozhang took Deng Guangming as a good teacher,Consciously lay down the basic skills in the “four keys” of history management advocated by Deng Guangming, namely, age, geography, official position and catalogue.He studied Deng Guangming’s writing of biographies of historical figures, not only possessing rich historical materials such as official history books, private writings and family biographies in detail, but also inWhen using these materials, like Deng Guangming, he also set himself a trade-off standard, that is, “to make use of the time to make sure it is macro, to make use of the time to make sure it is fine”, and to “follow the historical facts if it is in agreement, and to abandon it if it is not in agreement”.On the way to do scholarly research, he has been making more and more efforts and has written a lot of books.

After learning that Deng Guangming died in Beijing on January 10, 1998, An Zuozhang specially wrote a memorial article entitled “Spring Rain Moistens Things Silently-Memories of a past when I was taught by Mr. Deng 40 years ago”. Among them, he said, “Every time I think about Mr. Deng’s feeling of turning spring breeze into rain for many years, I cannot help but feel sorry for him”. He also quoted four sentences from Du Fu’s poem “Happy Rain on Spring Night”: “Good rain knows the season, when spring happens. The wind sneaks into the night, moistens things silently “deeply expresses its grief, remembrance feeling. The Sri Lankan people have gone and their spirit lasts forever. Today, Deng Guangming and an Zuozhang, both historians, have passed away. However, both Deng Guangming’s “four keys” to history management and an Zuozhang’s academic spirit of “diligent reading, diligent thinking, diligent writing” and “keeping pace with the times and applying to the end of the world” are worth learning, inheriting and carrying forward by our latecomers.

(The article was originally published in Spring and Autumn Annals, No.3, 2019)

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