Shifu, Soul of Chinese Anarchism

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9780847690152: Shifu, Soul of Chinese Anarchism

The most comprehensive study of Shifu available, this valuable work explores the life and political milieu of a central figure in Republican China. Born in 1884, Shifu was brought down in 1915 by overwork, poverty, and tuberculosis. Yet during that short span, he became the most influential anarchist of his time. Drawing on a wealth of primary source material, Krebs provides an intellectual biography of this committed revolutionary and analyzes the importance of Shifu's thought during the New Culture-May Fourth years as his followers fought for influence with the Marxists and later over the issue of alliance with the Nationalists. Placing Shifu's life within the dynamic intellectual and political currents of the time, the author describes Shifu's early work as an assassin within the anti-Qing movement. Examining the influence on Shifu of Confucianism and Buddhism, Krebs highlights reform Buddhism's close relationship with revolutionary activism. Most significantly, Shifu's unflagging work to propagate anarchism during the early years of the Republic and his interactions with other socialists reveal a hitherto unknown level of activity among socialist revolutionaries. This important book thus offers fresh insights not only into the anarchist movement itself, but into the broader history of Chinese socialism as well.

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About the Author:

Edward S. Krebs is an independent scholar and translator based in Georgia.

Review:

Fascinating. . . . Dying early, Shifu never faced the choice of those colleagues who lived on, most of whom eventually had to choose sides between the Guomingdang and the Chinese Communist Party. Because of his early death, his ideas and his reputation have come down to us relatively unsullied, although somewhat ignored. This book provides a valuable service in reacquainting many with Shifu's life and putting his ideas in perspective. (Lee Feigon, Colby College American Historical Review)

This book eminently deserves reading as an important source for our understanding of Chinese anarchism and early socialism in China. It explores in considerable detail the human dimension as well as the depth of thought of the historical figures with whom it is concerned. In doing so, it assists us to appreciate the complex but uniterrupted search for wholeness of spirit in Chinese culture. (Yasuko Shin-Nakagawa, Australian National University Journal of Asian Studies)

Edward Krebs . . . has added a lively and highly readable biography of Shifu (1884-1915) to the growing literature on Chinese anarchism. . . . Its theses are well argued and supported. The writing is clear, elegant, and from the heart. . . . Krebs achieves a fine balance between touching tribute and dispassionate evaluation of Shifu's strengths and weaknesses. (Gregor Benton, University of Wales, Cardiff China Quarterly)

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