Chapter

The Wrath of Heaven versus Human Greed

Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley

in Tears from Iron

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253025
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934221 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253025.003.0004
The Wrath of Heaven versus Human Greed

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Local literati who struggled to understand why the Incredible Famine had befallen Shanxi expressed a set of concerns different from those put forth in official memorials, treaty-port newspapers, or missionary journals. Their discussions of the human and cosmic forces that interacted to bring about the famine's horrors demonstrate the complexity of late-Qing understandings of famine causation. During and after the famine, a key concern among authors of county gazetteers and local famine songs was providing a cosmic and moralistic framework and defining the famine's heroes and villains. In both the Chinese and the Irish famines, people who directly experienced the horror of famine, like present-day observers of traumatic events, anxiously reviewed predisaster behaviors in an attempt to render the experience more predictable and understandable by answering haunting “why” questions raised by the drought's arrival.

Keywords: Incredible Famine; Shanxi; county gazetteers; famine songs; Irish famines

Chapter.  8289 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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