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Curwen, Charles Anthony (1968) The deposition of Li Hsiu-ch'eng. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Li Hsiu-ch'eng's deposition (sometimes called an 'autobiography' or 'confession') is the longest account of the Taiping Rebellion from the rebel side. Its importance is enhanced by the great scarcity of documentation of this nature brought about by the widespread destruction of Taiping documents during and after the suppression of the rebellion. Because of the circumstances in which it was written, because the original manuscript was withheld from the eyes of historians and the public by Tseng Kuo-fan and his descendants, and in view of the known incompleteness of the published versions, the deposition has for several decades been the subject of speculation and controversy. Only in 1961, with the publication of a facsimile edition in Taiwan, was it possible for historians to examine an accurate reproduction of the original document and form their own judgement on several important questions, including the authenticity of the deposition, its accuracy and reliability. These questions have to be resolved in order to assess the value of the document as an account of the history of the rebellion and the reasons for its failure. Of equal, if not greater value, is the light which it throws upon the character of its author, the most outstanding military leader of the late Taiping period, who subsequently became a great popular hero. Examination of his career as seen through the deposition, his state of mind, and his motivation for writing it, should help to explain the nature of the rebellion itself. Most of these questions are discussed in the pages which follow, and the deposition has been translated said annotated in considerable detail. This is the first complete translation into English of Li Hsiu-ch'eng's deposition. It is also the first version in any language to show not only the deletions made by Tseng Kuo-fan, but also the other cuts made by members of his staff.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:06

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