China News Service, Beijing, August 13 (Xu Jing) Chinese ancient books mainly refer to books written or engraved before 1912, including ancient books of the Han nationality and ancient books of ethnic minorities.

Most of the ancient Han books are written in traditional Chinese characters and classical Chinese, and there are no modern punctuation marks, which often make people "shy away".

  In order to facilitate the reading and utilization of ancient books by modern people, many professionals are engaged in the research, arrangement and publication of ancient books.

Hu Ke, deputy director of the History Editing Office of Zhonghua Book Company, has been with ancient books for 17 years since he was admitted to the Department of History of Peking University in 2004.

  Ancient books are an important carrier of Chinese civilization.

Hu Ke introduced that if Confucius started collating the Confucian classics, the ancient Chinese books have a history of about 2,500 years.

During the Western Han Dynasty, Liu Xiang and Liu Xin and their sons were ordered by the emperor to collate a large number of pre-Qin classics.

  Today's work on ancient books is more systematic and professional.

She said that the collation of modern ancient books has inherited the ancient tradition of collation and publication of scriptures and history, and has been supported by more in-depth research, advanced concepts and a wide variety of databases, but it is still a "big project".

  Modern ancient books generally include photocopying, proofreading, annotation, compilation, and modern translation.

Taking the ancient book calibration as an example, the organizer needs to study the relevant classics as thoroughly as possible, understand their compilation process and circulation in history, collect important editions of the book and clarify the origin, compare the texts of different editions in detail, and refer to other Handed down or unearthed documents, comprehensively consider and correct all kinds of corruption that occurred during the circulation of ancient books, in order to obtain relatively accurate texts.

On this basis, according to the specific content of the literature, punctuation marks and paragraphs should be added to the text of ancient books to facilitate reading.

The picture shows Hu Ke at work.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

  "The publication cycle of an ancient book collation work is often directly related to the scale, difficulty, and depth of the ancient book." Hu Ke admitted frankly that super-large projects such as Zhonghua Book Company's "Twenty-Four Histories" and "Drafts of Qing History" , which took 20 years to complete.

  Not long after Hu Ke graduated and entered the Zhonghua Book Company, he served as the editor in charge of the ancient books.

  "Twenty-Four Histories" is the general term for twenty-four ancient Chinese history books, which are regarded as "official histories", covering ancient Chinese politics, economy, military affairs, ideology, culture, astronomy, geography, etc., with a total of 3213 volumes, about 40 million words.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Zhonghua Book Company organized and edited and published the point-based editions "Twenty-Four Histories" and "Drafts of Qing History", which were known as the standard editions of "National History" and enjoyed high reputation in academic circles at home and abroad.

  The ongoing revision project of the "Twenty-Four Histories" of the point-to-read version will form a new and upgraded version with standard style, accurate punctuation, accurate collation, and easy reading through comprehensive review and collation of various historical books.

From 2013 to 2021, 11 revised editions and 62 volumes have been published.

The picture shows Hu Ke at work.

Photo courtesy of the interviewee

  Fortunately, there is no shortage of young people in this grand work.

Hu Ke told reporters that there are currently 12 people in the history editing room of Zhonghua Book Company.

Eight people, including her, are "post-80s" or "post-90s", and the youngest was born in 1997.

"In recent years, there are not many young people who choose to devote themselves to the business of sorting ancient books," she said. These young colleagues who graduated from the major of ancient Chinese literature and history are fond of traditional Chinese culture and can be quickly qualified for their jobs.

  In recent years, unearthed documents such as Chu Slips in the Warring States Period and Qin and Han Slips and Pads have continued to emerge, and the research results of handed down documents in the fields of history and philology are rich.

Hu Ke introduced that the "Changsha Mawangdui Han Tomb Slips and Silk Collection" published by Zhonghua Book Company in recent years is a representative achievement of the unearthed documents, and won the 4th China Publishing Government Award; The revision project is the representative of traditional document sorting. The published "Historical Records" and "Liao Shi" won the fourth and fifth China Publishing Government Award Nomination Awards respectively.

  Looking to the future, digital technology has brought more possibilities for the sorting of ancient books.

Hu Ke said that the ancient book digitization agency represented by the Zhonghua Bookstore Gulian Company is exploring technologies such as automatic punctuation of ancient books; the "Chinese Classics Ancient Books Library" developed by the company has accumulated about 2 billion words of online resources as of last year, and has become a professional player in the field. One of the authoritative ancient book databases, these have provided assistance for academic research and ancient book development.

  In her opinion, in order to further "break the circle" of ancient books, we should study the needs of different readers and design popular ancient books sorting works.

"For example, the revision project of the 'Twenty-Four Histories' in the school-based textbook has high academic value, but it still has a certain reading threshold for public readers." She hopes to select representative and readable books and biographies, and invite excellent front-line readers. Scholars make annotations and translations, so that ordinary readers can read more easily and experience the historical and cultural connotations contained in them.

  At present, the history editing room where Hu Ke is located also undertakes major publishing projects such as the revised edition of the punctuation book "Zizhi Tongjian", "New Collection of Song Huiyao" and "Three Dynasties Beimeng Huibei".

"Our goal is to better disseminate the excellent traditional Chinese culture through the compilation and publication of ancient books." This is Hu Ke's original intention of work and her long-term hope for the arrangement of ancient books.