A Bibliography of Lei-shu
Niyudo [Ch.: Er you dong; Precious Books from the Cave] [or, from title label on covers]: Tohon ruisho mokuroku.
73; 60 folding leaves (pagination in Vol. II continued from Vol. I). Two vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers (wrappers rather worn), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (frayed), new stitching. Kyoto: Hayashi Kuhei & Takemura Shinbei, 1699.
First edition of this valuable bibliography of Chinese encyclopedias or lei-shu (classified books); this is an important guide to the corpus of lei-shu.
The term “encyclopedia” is not used in the Western sense. Lei-shu “is the name given a genre of collectanea of literary and non-literary materials compiled in pre-modern Chinese history. Commonly translated ‘encyclopedia,’ lei-shu is more accurately rendered ‘classified book,’ from the categories of topic, genre, or rhyme that were typically used to organize the contents. Lei-shu are properly regarded as encyclopedias in that they were intended to encompass and present synoptically the total of either existing knowledge or a specified field of knowledge. However, they did so in a characteristically Chinese way, by quoting existing texts and placing them in a synthetic rearrangement. Lei-shu contain little or no original writing, unlike our modern encyclopedias, a fact that suggests their compilation was motivated by a desire to preserve texts as well as to provide accessible surveys of knowledge. That lei-shu contain virtually no new material should not lead to an underestimation of their importance and influence. Many lei-shu in their time exerted great influence in shaping education, the intellectual climate, and literature by making available a particular selection of materials to a large number of readers from a vast canon of existing texts not readily available to them. Lei-shu were the emperors’ and officials’ digests of important texts, the primers of early education, the handbooks of poets and playwrights, and the study guides of examination candidates…
“The durable lei-shu tradition is to be credited with the preservation of a vast amount of texts from pre-Ming China.”–Nienhauser, ed., The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, Vol. I, pp. 526-29.
Very good set. Some worming touching but not obscuring characters.
Item ID: 7546