Hymes, Printing and Reading.pdf - .E ‘9 a I-� to Es 0 C V 0 r Sn S V z a a4-I ‘I UI S P az 4 0 9 I 2-v S a V a’3 z z S a’ 2a IC-5 ‘It i ft ii

Hymes, Printing and Reading.pdf - .E ‘9 a I-� to Es 0 C V...

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; .E ‘9 a I to Es, 0 V) r S Sn I 2 -v C V a ‘I P 9 S a V) a’3 0 z -I a 4 UI S a z 4 0 z z S 2a a’ I C ‘It, & -5 ii ft ii ii
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544 ROBERT 1-IYM ES SUNG SOCIETY AND SOCIAL CHANGE 545 be, however, that the longer gap between origin and general use of print ing in China reflects the fact that in Europe book printing appeared within a fifteenth-century society already fairly commercial; whereas in China the wider use of printing, on the one hand, and a burgeoning commercial economy, on the other, grew up in tandem, while the invention itself long preceded the commercial revolution of late Tang and after.49 Timothy Barrett has made a plausible case that the first extensive use of book printing may have occurred tinder the auspices of the Empress Wtt of the Tang and her Buddhist adviser Fa-tsang in the first years of the eighth centttry. Insofar as the regimes that came after shied away from her example in many arenas, any association of printed books with her reign may have tainted them in the eyes of later rulers. OLIr earliest surviving printed works from China are all Buddhist-associated, but, as also emerges from Barrett’s argument, monasteries were the owners of considerable sunk capital in their large staffs of manuscript copyists; their con siderable interest in this enterprise is indicated by the fact that the state pro hibited private copying of sutras and thus granted them an effective monopoly. Did this inhibit them for some time from turning heavily toward print to sat isfy the considerable demand for Buddhist works? Betxveen them the state and the monasteries were the largest centers of capital accumulation in medieval China, and a wider use of printing awaited the rise of other centers of capital and commerce.5° This view gains support from the fact that our strongest early evidence of printing outside Bttddhist and court contexts comes primarily from ninth- century Szechwan, at that time probably China’s most commercialized region, and secondarily in the same period from the Yangtze delta, also already rela tively commercial. Thus in the year 835 an imperial edict forbade privately the dittervnce between block prmting, tIm m,iin medium of book printing in China before modern limes, and the musable—rype pmiung that sparked the printing revolution ui Europe though often seized upon as a crucial diilerence by European historians is not a realistic candidate ior a causal role in any difiiirenee in the speed or depth of impact of printing. The Chinese writing system made block printing particularly appropriate md mos able type less ptactical except for particularly large print runs ofa text, as ssas noted by the perceptive Shcn Kua, the worlds first recorded witness of movable type, present in Cluna by the t 0405.
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