The Eminent Monk is written by John Kieschnick. The Eminent Monk analyzes biographies of Chinese Buddhist monks, from the strict ascetic to the unfathomable wonder-worker, in an attempt to rebuild an enigmatic part of the medieval Chinese imagination.
While examining depictions of monks in medieval China, the author discusses some of the following questions: What are we to make of descriptions of deviant monks who breach monastic regulations in “eminent monk” collections? Who created monk biographies and who reads them? How did various elements of Chinese society compete for the monk’s image, and which image won?
The Eminent Monk examines both the importance of Buddhist literature in Chinese history and the monastic imagination that inspired it by placing monk biographies in the context of Chinese political and religious rhetoric.