SOAS University of London

The Invention of a Factional Conflict: Li Deyu 李德裕 (787-850) and his Record of Failures and Grief (Qiongchou zhi 窮愁志)

Dr Michael Höckelmann

Date: 25 April 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 25 April 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Lecture


This seminar introduces and discusses a selection of readings from the largest surviving single collection of 'essays' (lun 論) from the Tang Dynasty, written by 'Chancellor' Li Deyu between 847 and 850. Li was deposed after the infamous Huichang proscription of foreign religions under Emperor Wuzong (r. 840-846) due to accusations of sustaining a political 'faction' (pengdang 朋黨). A prolific writer of court documents in his own right, he tried to prove his learnedness in history and ability to engage in philosophical discourse after he had been expelled to the remote South. With his death from illness and infirmity approaching, many of the 48 essays remained unfinished, but yet they provide a unique insight into the highly allusive, pre-'old style' (guwen 古文) philosophical literature of Medieval  China. The presentation will focus on selections from the Record of Failures and Grief that bear a relation to Li's biography, his philosophical and/or religious convictions, and political events in his own lifetime.

Short bio

Michael Höckelmann is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at King's College.
Attached please find a copy of the flyer (in doc and pdf format), and two files with relevant text material:

  1. Li Deyu 李德裕 (787-850), "Mingshu youbao lun" 冥數有報論; please be aware that the file contains two versions of the same text, the first from Fu Xuancong 傅璇琮 and Zhou Jianguo 周建國 (eds.), Li Deyu wenji jiaojian 李德裕文集校箋 (Shijiazhuang 石家莊: Hebei Jiaoyu Chubanshe 河北教育出版社, 1999/ 2000), 697-700, the second from Li Deyu's biography ("Li Deyu liezhuan" 李德裕列傳) in Liu Xu 劉昫 (888–947) et al., Jiu Tangshu 舊唐書 (Beijing 北京: Zhonghua Shuju 中華書局, 1975), 174.4528-4530.
  2. Li Deyu, "Zhou Qin xingji lun" 周秦行紀論, and Niu Sengru 牛僧孺 (779-847), Zhou Qin xingji 周秦行紀, both in Fu/Zhou, Li Deyu wenji jiaojian, 701-708.

The Early China Seminar is jointly organised by the Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia, the SOAS China Institute and the London Confucius Institute.