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Polyhistor

You do NOT want these books.

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Polyhistor

16005490068961185195698856600567.thumb.jpg.367a3777d9dd099e258b7bce6d2fccdc.jpgIf you've ever browsed for popular old texts on JD or similar websites, you may have come across this series, with the blue borders, the tactile covers with a person or two. I have a few of them (包公案、大明英烈传、小五义、海公案、梦溪笔谈、等). They're uniformly 306-308 pages, and they all claim 330,000 character totals. You do not want them. They very haphazardly edit books down to 330,000. My other copy of 七侠五义 is 565,000. Even worse, 隋唐演义, which other websites claim to be 750,000字 is available by them in one 330,000 volume.

 

For instance, look at this paragraph. 

16005490297557660026574257730380.thumb.jpg.9b14d2bf302d996ba7659454650f73d1.jpg

 

And compare that to the text given in other sources: 

 

  且说包兴奉了包公之命,寄信回家,后又到隐逸村。这日包兴回来,叩见包公,呈上书信,言:“太老爷太夫人甚是康健,听见老爷得了府尹,欢喜非常,赏了小人五十两银子。小人又见大老爷大夫人,欢喜自不必说,也赏了小人三十两银子。

  惟有大夫人给小人带了个薄薄儿包袱,嘱咐小人好好收藏,到京时交付老爷。小人接在手中,虽然有些分两,不知是何物件,惟恐路上磕碰。还是大夫人见小人为难,方才说明,此包内是一面古镜,原是老爷井中捡的。因此镜光芒生亮,大夫人挂在屋内。有一日,二夫人使唤的秋香,走至大夫人门前滑了一跤,头已跌破,进屋内就在挂镜处一照,谁知血滴镜面,忽然云翳开豁。秋香大叫一声,回头跑在二夫人屋内,冷不防按住二夫人,将右眼挖出;从此疯癫,至今锁禁,犹如活鬼一般。二夫人死去两三番,现在延医调治,尚未痊愈。小人见二老爷,他无精打采的,也赏了小人二两银子。”说着话将包袱呈上。包公也不开看,吩咐好好收讫。包兴又回道:“小人又见宁师老爷看了书信十分欢喜,说叫老爷好好办事,尽忠报国,还教导了小人好些话。小人在家住了一天,即到隐逸村报喜投书。李大人大喜,满口应承,随后便送小姐来就亲。赏了小人一个元宝两匹尺头,并回书一封。”即将书呈上。包公接着看毕,原来是张氏夫人同着小姐于月内便可来京,立刻吩咐预备住处,仍然派人前去迎接。便叫包兴暂且歇息,次日再商量办喜事一节。

 

I'm curious to hear other's opinions. I find the original, in the text, to be pretty easy. I spent two hours confusedly trying to figure out who everybody was and what was going on in the image text. I've shown two Chinese people the text and they say it's just barely understandable and quite outrageously done. 

 

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Polyhistor

I would suggest looking for words like 全本全注全译 on the cover when buying books written in imperial China. These orange books are the best I've seen, with such detailed annotations and no bowdlerizations to my knowledge. 16005843687341790435680383295530.thumb.jpg.08a3bd47b8bbaf8562f4eb1147c4ad27.jpg

 

 

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大块头

What is the motivation for abridging these books? So they look pretty as a set on the Taobao product page? To bring the cost down by 5%? Presumably people complain in the reviews when they try to read these books and find they've been butchered?

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Polyhistor
2 minutes ago, 大块头 said:

What is the motivation for abridging these books?

 

Couldn't tell you. They're pretty nice, with so many illustrations, annotations for any difficult words, and yet when you actually try reading them, you're eventually gonna run up against that roadblock.

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PerpetualChange
12 hours ago, Polyhistor said:

I would suggest looking for words like 全本全注全译 on the cover when buying books written in imperial China. These orange books are the best I've seen, with such detailed annotations and no bowdlerizations to my knowledge. 

The real words you are looking for are the ones at the bottom - zhonghua shuju. Publisher is everything for mainland chinese books and they're the best. 

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Polyhistor
2 hours ago, PerpetualChange said:

The real words you are looking for are the ones at the bottom - zhonghua shuju

 

No, those aren't the real words I'm looking for. That's just one publisher of which I own a single book out of the 384 in my collection. There are plenty of other high quality books by other publishers, and I wouldn't want to dissuade people from them if I offered a specific publishing house. I specifically pointed out 全本全注全译 because they, or variations, appear on various other covers of books which I hold in high regard for the value of their scholarship.

 

A couple more I'd recommend looking out for are 无删减, unabridged. 

 

1600629267823399831877542048971.thumb.jpg.4755b91d0d0b8d524629c599efd93653.jpg

 

Or 导读, as in this series, which are summaries in 普通话 of each chapter

 

16006294370138621520611965214242.thumb.jpg.e1b865ead4f7742f39d13813cadefd13.jpg

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Polyhistor

And another I would caution against is this, which offers a few annotated sentences chosen from whole chapters. Most of the original text is gone. 

16006297137028120613126970983054.thumb.jpg.3815fc46e7386d6f7054bcdd02298bc8.jpg

 

While this series is available at a pretty good price and offers apparently complete texts with a lot of annotations. 

16006298032401061585763515378719.thumb.jpg.262dcc0ec2ca7549e30994ebdf0b7c86.jpg

 

 

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PerpetualChange

@Polyhistor the Zhonghua Shuju versions are often fascimiles of authoritative Qing Dynasty texts, or else based on the highest standard of textual scholarship and consensus available for the published texts. Sure there are other good versions of things, with modern commentaries and/or explanations, but if you really want to be sure you are reading accurate, consultable versions of these texts then you won't find more accurate or more authoritative versions of the texts than the ones Zhonghua Shuju put out. 

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PerpetualChange
5 minutes ago, Polyhistor said:

And another I would caution against is this, which offers a few annotated sentences chosen from whole chapters. Most of the original text is gone. 

 

You could have cautioned yourself against buying that perfectly fine zhonghua shuju publication by reading the "qingcui" on the very front cover if annotations and summaries weren't what you were looking for...

 

The book you recommend in place of it is also an entirely different work? 

 

This is the one you want: 

https://item.jd.com/12126724.html

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Polyhistor
1 hour ago, PerpetualChange said:

than the ones Zhonghua Shuju put out. 

And that there is my main problem. They have a relatively sparse collection. They have a lot, but there's still a lot missing, which other publishers have put out. Yes, as you said, 中华书局 is excellent, I've said it's my best copy of any book I have, scholarship-wise. But if one is looking for something other than the canon represented by their selection, the few tips I can offer I hope will help. 

 

I had no idea what to look for, what to expect, when I began to buy Chinese books online, and I expect that's the case for a great many other people, whom I hope to help with my own experience. I ordered my first copies of 金庸 books from Amazon despite the traditional characters in the title, not realizing that generally titles are always in traditional. So many bumps in the road which I hope my own crossings can render more crossable for others. 

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PerpetualChange
1 hour ago, Polyhistor said:

They have a relatively sparse collection. They have a lot, but there's still a lot missing, which other publishers have put out.

Fair enough. I was just pointing out that, for Classical Chinese texts, they are the gold standard quality you would want to reference for any serious reading/study.

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