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[Synoptic-L] Yau Ji-hvng (PS)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Synoptic-L Containing: Postscript on Yau Ji-hvng From: Bruce Didn t mean to be coy in mentioning a name of which many list members may not have heard. This
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2005
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      To: Synoptic-L
      Containing: Postscript on Yau Ji-hvng
      From: Bruce

      Didn't mean to be coy in mentioning a name of which many list members may
      not have heard. This supplement is by way of amends.

      China has its own tradition of text criticism. Those following our Project's
      Philology Festival Calendar will know that this coming 27 Jan is Bentley Day
      (Richard's birthday), but will have to wait for the second Tuesday in July
      to celebrate Yau Ji-hvng (the "v" is here a way of writing the "uh" vowel of
      English, without making it look like the "u" vowel of English). I thought
      that in the interest of nonobfuscation I ought to share the entry for that
      day. The last quote is why we hold Yau Ji-hvng in special esteem; that quote
      is posted in letters of red at Project Headquarters (except that recently
      some student stole it off the bulletin board, and I will have to remind
      myself to print out another).

      Here is the entry (one recalls how Scaliger was humiliated by being fooled
      by some Old Latin verses that were actually compositions by one of his

      Second Tuesday: Yau Ji-hvng Day. Yau (1647-?1715) was one of several
      contemporary Hangjou bibliophiles. Working in evident leisure, he produced
      close studies of many early texts, among them a demonstration (in 10
      chapters) that the Old Text Shang-shu were forgeries of the 4th century. In
      1693, he met Yen Rwo-jyw, who had also been working on this problem. Yen
      incorporated many of Yau's findings into his own treatise. Yau's treatise is
      lost, along with his other specialized studies. What survives is a work of
      only a few pages, entitled Gu/Jin Wei-shu Kau (Studies in Inauthentic Works,
      Ancient and Modern). Its 90 entries were not the first attempt to survey the
      field in its breadth; Sung Lyen had done something of the sort, for 40
      works, centuries earlier in 1358. Yau's work was however the most
      comprehensive such accounting, up to the 18th century. It is also notable
      for the ethical stance which its author takes in his Preface. "Spurious
      books," he writes, "have been produced in great numbers in both ancient and
      modern times. Can a scholar who does not take the time to distinguish
      between genuine and spurious be called a scholar at all? To make that
      distinction is the first duty of scholarship." Today we celebrate the first
      duty of scholarship.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Research Professor of Chinese
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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