Explaining and Analyzing Characters, in 15 Juan


Shuo wen jie zi (Explaining and analyzing characters), often abridged as Shuo wen, was compiled by Xu Shen (circa 58−circa 147), a Confucian scholar and linguist of the Eastern Han dynasty. This is the first Chinese dictionary to use the principle of organization by sections with shared components, called bu shou (radicals), and to analyze the form, meaning, and pronunciation of each character, using the liu shu (six categories of Chinese characters) theory, to give the rationale behind them, as well as their interrelation. It is the forerunner of later dictionaries. The earliest extant editions dated from the Tang, in two Dunghuang manuscripts, but none was complete. The surviving editions derive from two sources. One was Shuo wen jie zi xi chuan, compiled by Xu Kai of the Southern Tang (937−76) during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, in 40 juan, known as the Younger Xu edition. The other was a work proofread and revised, by imperial order, by Xu Xuan, Xu Kai’s older brother, in the third year (986) of the Yongxi reign (984−87) of the Song emperor Taizong. It is known as the Older Xu edition. In the late Ming period, Jiguge, the publisher in Changshu, Jiangsu, acquired a copy of the Older Xu edition and printed it, using a large printing type. For this reason, the work displays the style and features of a Song edition. Only the prefaces, table of contents, and three chapters are shown here.

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Mao Jin, Jiguge, Changshu, Jiangsu


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5 volumes ; 21.0 x 15.8 centimeters

Last updated: May 11, 2015