Item ID: 10060 Shuo wen gu ben kao 説文古本考 [Examination of Ancient Editions of Shuowen jiezi]. Tao 沈濤 SHEN.

Shuo wen gu ben kao 説文古本考 [Examination of Ancient Editions of Shuowen jiezi].

Six vols. 8vo, orig. printed wrappers, orig. stitching. Shanghai: Yi xue shu ju 醫學書局, 1926.

A reduced-sized facsimile reprint of this study of the textual history of a landmark of Chinese philological studies, Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 [Explain the Graphs to Unravel the Written Words]. Shuowen jiezi is “the first dictionary of Chinese characters. It was composed by Xǔ Shèn 許慎 around AD 100. For the first time, all the characters included in the work were presented according to a new system of classification invented by the author. This is a tremendous achievement in the history of this non-alphabetical writing system” (Bottéro, “Ancient China,” 59). By the late imperial period, there were several recensions of Xu Shen’s work in circulation. Through comparison, Shen Tao sought to establish a reliable text of Shuowen jiezi in our book.

Shen Tao’s book does not seem to have circulated widely upon its publication. The editor of the reprint, Ding Fubao (1874-1952), explained in the Preface to our book how hard it had been to locate a copy:

In the guimao year (1903), I was at a friend’s house in the capital and saw Examination of Ancient Editions of Shuowen jiezi and I enjoyed it. I searched for a copy for several years, but was unable to find one. Then a bookseller came and wanted to sell me a manuscript copy of this book, asking 50 silver dollars for it. I let it go because of the high price. From that point on, I searched for this book in the North and in the South for over 20 years. I only just managed to find one copy, and hurried to have it lithographed.
The reprint was made by Ding’s publishing venture Yixue shuju 醫學書局, or “Medical Book Company. Ding was a book collector, bibliographer, Buddhist scholar, and translator. Ding’s edition was later superseded by the one prepared by Pan Chengbi 潘承弼, which restored six missing pages (Lei, Gushu jingyan lu, 26).

We find no information on the author, Shen Tao (provincial graduate, 1810).

Fine set, preserved in a hantao.

Price: $350.00

Item ID: 10060

See all items by