Friedrich A. Bischoff, 2005
San tzu ching explicated: The classical initiation to classic Chinese couplet I to XI. (BKGA 45.) Wien: VÖAW, 2005 (download [open access] or order online). (310 S.)

San Tzu Ching Explicated: The Classical Initiation to Classic Chinese, couplets I to XI is an exegetical study of the first verses of the "Trimetrical Classic, Explicated" (San tzu ching hsün ku), a school book of the purest Neo-Confucian tradition. From its first publication in 1666 until the beginning of the twentieth century, it introduced schoolboys all over East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Annam) to classic Chinese culture. The textbook is composed on one hand of versified sentences to be copied and learned by heart by students, and on the other hand of scholarly expositions to be studied by schoolmasters whose teaching certificates were renewed every three years following examinations. In its roughly one hundred couplets and their commentary, it encompasses the entire spiritual and material universe of pre-modern China. The present study, however, limits itself to the couplets I-XI. They present a physiological definition of mankind, retracing man’s intellectual development (and appropriate pedagogical methods) from the moment of conception until the completion of final academic degrees and appointment to government office. For advanced students of Sinology this volume is suitable as an introduction to the “exalted style” (ku wen) and to scholarly commentary style including the art of its accurate reading. It is also intended for East Asians everywhere who wish to gain an authentic picture of the literate and pedagogical culture of their ancestors.