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Text and commentaries of the "Tangshi xuan"

Though originally published in China with annotations, the Tangshi xuan was republished in Japan without commentary, leading to a wealth of new annotated editions by Japanese authors.

Chinese edition of the Tangshi xuan (Selection of Tang Poems)

Old Book Fig.1 Tangshi xuan (Selection of Tang Poems), Ming-period edition (late 16th-early 17th c.)
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The original anthology published in China. The poems are accompanied by a detailed commentary

Japanese-made Tangshi xuan

Old Book Fig.2 Tōshi kunkai (Annotated Tōshisen), first half of the 17th c.
Click to take a closer look (See Also[1][2])

A Japan-made selection of poems almost identical to the Tangshi xuan, with annotations. It enjoyed some circulation in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Small size Tangshi xuan

Old Book Fig.3 Tangshi xuan, Kansei 4 (1792) edition
Click to take a closer look (See Also[3])

An edition curated by Ogyū Sorai’s disciple, Hattori Nankaku. It was published without annotations, in a small, portable format that fits in the palm of one’s hand. The first edition appeared in 1724 (Kyōhō 9), but it was reprinted multiple times by the Edo bookseller Kobayashi Shinbei. It was also reprinted illegally or by local presses, for a total of more than 50 different editions. It was by far the best-selling collection of Chinese poetry in the Edo period.

Tōshisen shōko (Wisdom about the Tōshisen), a commentary

Old Book Fig.4 Tōshisen shōko, Meiwa 5 (1776) edition
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A commentary published by the Edo publisher Kobayashi Shinbei, who also published the Tōshisen. The commentary is by a scholar named Chiba Unkaku (1727-1792). The commentary (in kanbun) is in the upper section of the page.

Tōshisen kokujikai (The Tōshisen with Explanations in Japanese)

Old Book Fig.5 Tōshisen kokujikai, [Left: Tenmei 2 edition][Right: Kansei 3 edition] Source: Waseda University Library (See Also[5][6][7])

Although the commentary is attributed to Hattori Nankaku, it was in fact edited by a different person using notes from Nankaku’s lectures (some scholars attribute it to a different person altogether). Despite the many errors it apparently contains, it was widely read because of its accessible style. The text currently at the Waseda University Library was previously owned by a descendant of Nankaku’s.

Tōshisen ehon (The Illustrated Tōshisen)

Old Book Fig.6 Tōshisen ehon (The Illustrated Tōshisen), 35 vols., Tenmei 8 (1787) - Tenpo 7 (1836) edition
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Each poem is accompanied by a basic commentary and a picture illustrating the content. The famous artist Katsushika Hokusai contributed some of the engravings.

Seal-script editions of Tōshisen

Old Book Fig.7 Tensho Tōshisen gogon zekku (Seal-script edition of the Five-Word per-line Quatrains in the Tōshisen), Hōreki 3 (1753) edition
Click to take a closer look (See Also[9])

Old Book Fig.8 Tensho Tōshisen shichigon zekku, Hōreki 6 (1756) edition
Click to take a closer look (See Also[10])

The poems are written in the seal script (one of the classical calligraphic styles), which was widely used in the Edo period for seals and stamps. It was probably made as a textbook for calligraphic practice.

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Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

Keio University