Calligraphy And The East Asian Book
Title Calligraphy and the East Asian book
Authors Frederick W. Mote, Hung-lam Chu, Howard L. Goodman, Friends of the Gest Library
Editor Howard L. Goodman
Publisher Shambhala, 1989
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我們讀讀1952年5月12日 Time 的這篇
Visiting Peking in the '20s, a wealthy Manhattan engineer named Guion M. Gest got relief from a painful eye disease, and picked up a hobby. For his ailment, Commander I. V. Gillis, U.S. naval attaché in Peking at the time, recommended an ancient Chinese eye medicine, concocted and sold by a Peking family. The medicine eased the engineer's pain, and he decided forthwith to begin collecting a library of Chinese medical books. In due time, Engineer Gest went back to the U.S., but before he left he commissioned Navyman Gillis to act as his agent and expanded his library idea to include all Chinese culture.
Last week at Princeton University's Firestone Library, visitors were examining a volume of Buddhist scriptures printed by the monks of a Chinese monastery in 1234, two centuries before Johann Gutenberg closed his press on the first Gutenberg Bible. The rare book was part of Princeton's first public display of the Gest Oriental Library, a fabulous collection of more than 130,000 Chinese books and manuscripts spanning eleven centuries.
Agent Gillis was no expert at first, but he became one by talking to book dealers and poring through Peking's Metropolitan Library. He managed to find one of the three existing complete sets (5,020 volumes) of the 1728 Chinese Encyclopedia. He also sent home a priceless rubbing from the stone text of a Confucian doctrine dated 745 A.D., with a commentary by the Emperor Hsiüan-Tsung; a Tibetan book written in pure gold; a 600 A.D. scroll found in the caves of northwest China with the original hemp wrapper signed by the woman who wove it. Gest impoverished himself supplying funds for Gillis, who had resigned his commission to devote full time to the collection. Gillis collected a library of Bibles written in 25 dialects, 20,000 books from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), 500 volumes on Chinese medicine—the largest Oriental collection in the Western world. By the time the Japanese invasion of China put an end to Gillis' work, the Gest collection could boast a sampling of almost every type of Chinese literature.
Gest sold his collection in 1937 to the Institute for Advanced Study, but he and Gillis kept an advisory interest in it until both died in 1948. Their library is now under the supervision of Chinese Scholar Hu Shih, onetime Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. and dean of National Peking University, who shows research scholars how to use its treasures. Dr. Hu will not guess at the library's monetary or cultural value. When asked, he simply says: "Too big. Too big."