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China’s “New” Encyclopaedias and Their Readers

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Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)

Abstract

In Europe, encyclopaedias are closely linked with the emergence of modernity, with assumptions about the public character of information, and with the desirability of free intellectual and political exchange. Modern democratic societies consider not only the availability of general knowledge but also the accessibility of information to be crucial. Therefore, in the history of encyclopaedias the essential question remains: who controls, monopolizes and manipulates encyclopaedic knowledge and who benefits from it? This chapter does not deal with the related privileges and the pivotal question of censorship in encyclopaedia production but instead with the idealized social significance of encyclopaedias and their reception—their civilizing mission. By taking as case studies two modern Chinese encyclopaedias, the Encyclopedic Dictionary of New Knowledge (quoted as ED), Xin wenhua cishu 新文化辭書, first published in 1923, and the Completely Revised Everyday Cyclopedia (quoted as EC), Chongbian riyong baike quanshu 重編日用百科全書, from 1934, this chapter explores who may have consulted them, how, and why. It will argue that while both encyclopaedias were geared towards a broad(er) public, the sectors of the public that they did in fact reach were not similar, although they were important and large enough to ensure their respective commercial success.

Keywords

Encyclopedic Dictionary Phonetic Transcription Encyclopaedic Knowledge Implied Reader Foreign Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Chinese StudiesHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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