Lara Yuyu Yang
Woodblock book printing was for many centuries the dominant printing technology in East Asia but it was replaced by mechanised presses during the early 20th century. Surprisingly, in 1973, at the request of the Shanghai municipal government, the Cloudy Studio, a local publishing house, published a fine woodblock edition of The Communist Manifesto in classical Chinese style. Apart from the historical decline of xylography, this was also politically remarkable given that the CCP publicly derided elite xylographic book publishing. In this paper, by investigating the production process of The Manifesto, I will argue that archaism in elite literati book culture continued in woodblock book publishing during the Mao era of 1949-1976. I will analyse how the publishers sought archaistic perfection through design concepts, literati printing materials, ceremonialised production processes and a master-pupil system in the Communist publishing industry through the woodblock printing practice.
William C. Hedberg
This essay examines late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century interest in Shi Nai’an, the putative author of the traditional Chinese novel, The Water Margin. Despite the paucity of reliable evidence attesting to Shi Nai’an’s composition of The Water Margin, Japanese writers of the Meiji period were keenly interested in Shi on the basis of his alleged stature as a pioneering author of Oriental or East Asian (Tōyō) fiction. This characterization of Shi Nai’an was a byproduct of the recently established academic discipline of literary history in Japan, and the concomitant desire by Meiji-period historians to locate a literary text that could compete with Western works in terms of narrative and structural complexity. When late Qing-period Chinese authors became aware of Japanese writing on Shi Nai’an, they built on this budding biographical tradition by emphasizing Shi’s identification with an incipient Chinese nationalism, evidenced by his alleged resistance to the Mongol regime during the Yuan dynasty. The case study of Shi Nai’an thus illustrates the nexus between the construction of authorial personae and the pursuit of various ideological goals, as well as demonstrates the centrality of transregional literary contact in the formation of emergent concepts of authorship and canonization in modern East Asia.
Robert E. Hegel
Through six centuries of commercial activity, cultural identification, wartime pillage, and scholarly scrutiny, the Sanguo zhi pinghua 三國志平話 (Plain Tale on The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms), a work of popular historical fiction, survived to be reprinted for scholarly study around 1930. But this title and others from an original 1320s series continue to exist only because of a shared dedication to the study of books and through the collaboration of generations of Chinese, Japanese, and probably Korean merchants, teachers, editors, scholars, and bibliographers. This essay traces the tortuous path followed by this thin book through time, wars, and personal passions to reveal the generosity of scholars in making this title and its historical significance known today. As with cultural matters at other times and places, this path was regularly overshadowed by political and commercial interests.