East Asian Civillization 1
Over the course of centuries many different civilizations have come and gone seemingly in the blink of an eye. Most times an advanced civilization reaches its pinnacle, and then vanishes into the pages of history textbooks. Professor Jacques Gernet takes on a momentous task of shedding light to Chinese historical life, while painting an overwhelming picture of Chinese civilization before the cusp of invasion from the Mongols. With the help of many primary documents, he finds new life in an age old story. Furthermore Gernet delves into the social makeup and class structure in order to write his scholarly text while making it more available to the everyday laymen. Through his writing he sets forth to fully understand what made this Chinese society so grand for its time.
After becoming enamored in Gernets writings, one glaring arises. How different might China be today, If the Mongols had not invaded and stopped the Chinese people from fully recognizing their potential. Would the United States or the Western World be far different than we know it, and would China have been the preeminent super power we know today far sooner than anyone could have imagined?
When one begins to look back on the Southern Song dynasty as portrayed in Gernet’s Daily Life in China, on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, one must look no further than its capital city of Hangzhou and the areas surrounding the city. In order to capture a glimpse of the time Jacques Gernet uses a very telling description stating, “Green Mountains surround on all sides the still waters of the lake. Pavilions and towers in hues of gold and azure rise here and there. One would say a landscape composed by a painter.” These telling words give one the idea of a magnificent city in which even a man from those times, Marco Polo, describes the grandeur of the city saying,...