In “The Secret of Long Tenure: A Study of Zheng Gangzhong’s Letters to Qin Gui’s Associates,” I offer a case study of the relationship between early Southern Song literati and the chief councilor Qin Gui (1090-1155) through an analysis of Zheng Gangzhong’s (1088-1154) epistolary network. This study shows how Zheng, deputy pacification commissioner of Sichuan between 1142 and 1147, attempted to build good rapport with the councilor’s associates through correspondence. It was essential for heads of regional governments like Zheng Gangzhong, who was vulnerable to accusations of abuse of authority, to ingratiate themselves with senior officials surrounding Qin Gui if they wished to enjoy a stable career. This group of senior officials, despite being constantly in flux because of Qin Gui’s efforts to protect his leadership, facilitated Qin’s prolonged dominance by linking him to high-ranking officials like Zheng Gangzhong without exposing him to the charge of promoting factionalism.


Brent Ho has developed an interactive reading platform that allows for the visualization of the epistolary network of Zheng Gangzhong embedded in encoded letters. Readers can follow the links below to the reading platform, full text of Zheng Gangzhong’s letters, and my network data.  


Zheng Gangzhong’s letters

Interactive reading platform | network data (excel)

Full text of Zheng Gangzhong’s letters: MARKUS file

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