Chinese Script

History, Characters, Calligraphy

Thomas O. Höllmann. Translated by Maximiliane Donicht

Columbia University Press

Chinese Script

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Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231181730

144 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $18.00£14.95

Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231181723

144 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $55.00£45.95

Pub Date: November 2017

ISBN: 9780231543736

144 Pages

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List Price: $17.99£14.95

Chinese Script

History, Characters, Calligraphy

Thomas O. Höllmann. Translated by Maximiliane Donicht

Columbia University Press

In this brisk and accessible history, sinologist Thomas O. Höllmann explains the development of the Chinese writing system and its importance in literature, religion, art, and other aspects of culture. Spanning the earliest epigraphs and oracle bones to writing and texting on computers and mobile phones today, Chinese Script is a wide-ranging and versatile introduction to the complexity and beauty of written text and calligraphy in the Chinese world.

Höllmann delves into the origins of Chinese script and its social and political meanings across millennia of history. He recounts the social history of the writing system; written and printed texts; and the use of writing materials such as paper, silk, ink, brush, and printing techniques. The book sheds light on the changing role of literacy and education; the politics of orthographic reform; and the relationship of Chinese writing to non-Han Chinese languages and cultures. Höllmann explains the inherent complexity of Chinese script, demonstrating why written Chinese expresses meaning differently than oral language and the subtleties of the relationship between spoken word and written text. He explores calligraphy as an art, the early letter press, and other ways of visually representing Chinese languages. Chinese Script also provides handy illustrations of the concepts discussed, showing how ideographs function and ways to decipher them visually.
A competent, comprehensive look at the historical development of the Chinese writing system and its manifestations in literature, calligraphy, religion, and other aspects of culture. Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
A well-researched, detailed book that provides broad yet concise information on the Chinese writing system's historical background, as well as its linguistic and artistic aspects. Peter Yang, Case Western Reserve University
A brief but absorbing crash course on the origins and evolution of China’s writing system that tackles a range of topics beyond language. Japan Times
Preface
1. Inspiration and Drill
2. The Script
3. Ingenuity and Passion
4. Book Printing and Its Consequences
5. Import–Export
6. Calligraphy
Appendix 1. Notes on Pronunciation
Appendix 2. Timeline of Chinese Dynasties
Bibliography
Index of Names

About the Author

Thomas O. Höllmann is a professor of Chinese studies and ethnology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and president of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He is also the author of The Land of the Five Flavors: A Cultural History of Chinese Cuisine (Columbia, 2013).