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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines issues of manuscript culture as they apply to China prior to the spread of print. The discussion is centered around questions of how literary texts were produced, circulated, and changed in contexts in which every reproduction of a text was done by hand and the oral and the written remained closely intertwined. In addition to accounts of how texts were circulated and altered during circulation, the chapter discusses the implications of these aspects of manuscript culture for our understanding of how this literature was experienced by audiences in a context in which texts were more fluid and every instance of textual reproduction entailed individual decisions. Many of the issues discussed here are relevant to later periods as well, as even after the wide spread of printing, texts continued to be produced by hand (and orally) in a range of contexts up through the twentieth century.

Keywords: manuscript, circulation, copying, textual fluidity, orality

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