Studies on the Characteristics of Late Qing Encyclopaedia Entries

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


In this article the term “encyclopaedic reference works” refers specifically to encyclopaedias and encyclopaedic dictionaries in the Western mould that were published in the late Qing. Of the 42 late Qing encyclopaedic reference works this author has examined to date, several dozen sciences are addressed at least superficially. I have previously surveyed how these works express the characteristics of the era, their structures of knowledge, and the circumstances of their translation, and have provided information on their compilers and preface-writers, etc. The intention of this essay is to take a first step towards organising the characteristics of entry content. These entries offer us a way to look into the past, imbued as they are with a wealth of new knowledge and a new cultural spirit that is equally congenial to East and West. They contain a large quantity of new terminology, which even today has not been thoroughly examined. The mentality and methodology visible in the entries in this new kind of Chinese-language reference work expressed the particularities of that era’s new Chinese culture. Consequently, their inadequacies and regrettable features are outweighed by their achievement in successfully establishing a genre. This article seeks to explore the issue from the following seven vantage points: new thought, new knowledge, new terminology, compilation methodology, objectivity, accuracy, and special Chinese characteristics.


Chinese Character Reference Work Western Learning Encyclopaedic Dictionary Current Affair 
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.Peking City UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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