The Records of Mazu and the Making of Classical Chan Literature explores the growth, makeup, and transformation of Chan (Zen) Buddhist literature in late medieval China. The volume analyzes the earliest extant records about the life, teachings, and legacy of Mazu Daoyi (709-788), the famous leader of the Hongzhou School and one of the principal figures in Chan history. While some of the texts covered are well-known and form a central part of classical Chan (or more broadly Buddhist) literature in China, others have been largely ignored, forgotten, or glossed over until recently.
Poceski presents a range of primary materials important for the historical study of Chan Buddhism, some translated for the first time into English or other Western language. He surveys the distinctive features and contents of particular types of texts, and analyzes the forces, milieus, and concerns that shaped key processes of textual production during this period. Although his main focus is on written sources associated with a celebrated Chan tradition that developed and rose to prominence during the Tang era (618-907), Poceski also explores the Five Dynasties (907-960) and Song (960-1279) periods, when many of the best-known Chan collections were compiled.
Exploring the Chan School's creative adaptation of classical literary forms and experimentation with novel narrative styles, The Records of Mazu and the Making of Classical Chan Literature traces the creation of several distinctive Chan genres that exerted notable influence on the subsequent development of Buddhism in China and the rest of East Asia.