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Patriarchs on Paper – A Critical History of Medieval Chan Literature - California Scholarship Online
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Patriarchs on Paper: A Critical History of Medieval Chan Literature

Alan Cole


The truth of Chan Buddhism—better known as “Zen”—is regularly said to be beyond language, and yet Chan authors—medieval and modern—produced an enormous quantity of literature over the centuries. To make sense of this well-known paradox, this book explores several genres of Chan literature that appeared during the Tang and Song dynasties (c.600–1300), including genealogies, biographies, dialogues, poems, monastic handbooks, and koans. Working through this diverse body of literature, the text details how Chan authors developed several strategies to evoke images of a perfect Buddhism in which won ... More

Keywords: Chan Buddhism, Zen, Chan authors, spirit, fantasy Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, ancestors, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780520284067
Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520284067.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Alan Cole, author
Lewis & Clark College