China has kicked off a large-scale revision project of the Twenty-Four Histories, an ancient book collection recounting the country’s 4000-year-plus history, in an attempt to make up for the ‘regrets’ (think of them as minor errors) left in the first edition. Any book publisher will attest to the fact that regrets — such a good word for them — happen all to often.
Xu Jun, vice editor-in-chief of the Zhonghua Book Company, which is supervising the project, said, ‘The revising work of the first edition lasted as long as twenty years. Many historians and experts didn’t stick to the end due to various reasons and had to be replaced by others. So the standards were not the same and the outcome left a lot to be desired.’
The Twenty-Four Histories contains 24 historiographies, each of which recounts a different time period of the country’s 4000-year history. With 3249 volumes and about 40 million words, the whole set covers literature, art, science, military, economy, ethnography and many other fields.
The collection is considered an authoritative source of traditional Chinese history.
According to a statement released during a work meeting on the project, this revision will focus on correcting character and punctuation mistakes, rewriting the preface for every volume and improving notes and explanations for the original texts.
Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said, ‘It’s not simply an update. This time’s revision is about the cultural inheritance and accumulation of the Chinese nationality.’
Windows of China reported Liu as saying the newly-revised edition was intended to set an example for revising ancient books in the future.
It is hoped this new and revised edition will be published in 2012.