Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Literature can be seen from two perspectives, contrasting a textual heritage sanctioned by cultural arbiters with a fluid scene in which written culture mutates according to the dynamics of open society. In China, a tradition of imperially sponsored bibliography, library formation, and cataloguing set out to standardize the mass of inherited writing. As libraries moved through cycles of formation, destruction, and reconstruction, they struggled to accommodate new work within traditional frameworks. Classification was an intellectual adventure that developed through two parallel traditions, in seven and four main parts respectively. By the eighth century ce, the four-part system imposed became dominant. Vast amounts of literature lost to direct transmission survived in edited collections that inevitably compromised the integrity of vanished originals. Conversely, finds in tombs, caves, and excavations have recovered a rich harvest of ancient writings, many of them previously unknown. The results have brought those two rival perspectives into direct confrontation.

Keywords: libraries, transmission, catalogues, classification, lost books

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.