22 juan plus two juan of addenda in 11 vols. Large 8vo (290 x 186 mm.), orig. patterned wrappers, new stitching. [Korea: 1898].
Second edition, enlarged, and printed with movable wooden type, of the writings of a prominent Neo-Confucian thinker of the 19th century; it is one of the most important collections (chip) published in Korea during the final years of the Chosŏn dynasty. Our edition contains Ki’s writings in various genres, ranging from political manifestos to poetry, and is supplemented by a detailed biography and an essay on Ki’s philosophy by one of his disciples.
According to the Digital Cultural Dictionary of Sunch’ang County, this book was first published using wooden movable type in 1883. Our second printing has used the same set of movable types. In 1902, a third edition was published, this time as a woodblock printing; a note at the end of its appendix volume specifies that carving for the edition was begun (kaegan) in the spring of the imin year (i.e., 1902).
Ki (style name “Nosa” [“Reed Sands”], 1798-1880), was from a provincial elite family. In order to follow his late father’s wishes, Ki did not seek a career in government nor sit for the highest civil service examinations. He was nevertheless repeatedly recommended for office and served briefly, but soon withdrew, focusing his career instead on teaching and writing. Ki was a Neo-Confucian thinker whose focus on the paramount role of “principle” (Ch.: li, Ko.: i 理) over material force (Ch.: qi, Ko.: ki 氣) came to distinguish the school of thought that he founded and propagated through his disciples. Such seemingly arcane debates over metaphysics in fact served to buttress a political doctrine. The patterns of principle provided the universe with order, and this order emanated from the Confucian polity. Ki thus argued for a strong monarchy in the face of domestic difficulties and increasingly acute threats from Western powers active in the waters around Korea. Petitions by Ki to the king on such matters are included in the book. Ki’s biography gives further context, stating that in 1862, “the three southern provinces [of Ch’ungch’ŏng, Chŏlla, and Kyŏngsang] experienced a popular disturbance. The throne requested discussions of policy [to remedy the situation], and Master Ki with great emotion drafted a confidential memorial” 是歲三南有民擾自上有求言策先生慨然草封. Ki pointed out “the rotten customs of the elite” 士大夫習俗之壞 and “corruption in the three essentials of government [i.e., tax collection, the military, and grain relief]” 次及三政之獘. In 1866, the biography continues, “at the time when the seafaring barbarians violated our territory [i.e., the French punitive expedition] and the peace negotiations caused an uproar, Master Ki was ‘furious to the point of sickness’” 時洋夷侵犯和議喧騰先生憂忿成疾. Again Ki petitioned the throne and “outlined a policy of defense” 且陳備禦之策.
Our copy of the Works of Nosa does not carry a date of publication. However, it includes a year-by-year biography (yŏnbo 年譜) of Ki, in which the publication of the book is described. The biography recounts that Ki died in his sleep on 9 February 1880 (kimo 己卯, 12th month, 29th day, i.e., very late in the kimo year, most of which corresponds to 1879). The biography states that the “prose collection” (munjip 文集) part of the Works was finished in 1882 (im’o 壬午); the section titled “Dialogues” (mundamniu 問答類) was finished in 1890 (kyŏng’in 庚寅); an account of Ki’s family background and life’s work (haengsang 行狀) — written by Ki’s student Cho Sŏngga 趙性家 — finished in 1892 (imjin 壬辰); and in 1898 (musul 戊戌) the “prose collection” was “reprinted” (chonggan 重刊). Cho’s text is included in this edition. The date 1898 seen in several catalogues as the date of publication is probably an inference based on this date as given here.
A nice set. First few leaves of several volumes with minor spotting.
Digital culture encyclopedia for Sunch’ang 디지털순창문화대전. http://sunchang.grandculture.net/sunchang.
Item ID: 9187