Compte rendu : Collection des Livres Rares conservés à la bibliothèque de Harvard Yenching

 

Compte rendu de Devin Fitzgerald, doctorant, département des langues et civilisations de l’Asie orientale, Université Harvard, sur la collection des Livres Rares conservés à la bibliothèque de Harvard Yenching :

 

« A review of the Harvard Yenching Library Rare Books Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA »

The Harvard-Yenching Library holds more than 1.3 million volumes. This review won’t bore readers with the details of each collection, which are introduced on the library’s website. Instead, my aim is to convince the reader to consider a visit to the library and its world-class rare book collection. Although most of the library’s holdings are listed in fully searchable catalogs, there are many discoveries awaiting even cursory exploration. Our persisting ignorance of the Harvard-Yenching collection is best expressed anecdotally. I will briefly relate two tales of discovery enabled by the library’s eccentric collections before introducing relevant resources for visitors.

On February 27, Min Jung a Harvard Yenching fellow and professor of Korean literature at Hanyang University delivered a fascinating talk entitled, “Cultural Exchanges between Korean and Chinese Literati in the 18th and 19th Centuries: The Fujitsuka Chikashi (1879-1948) Collection in the Harvard-Yenching Library.” Dr. Min Jung arrived at Harvard with a different project, but he quickly discovered that the library had unintentionally bought a large part of the “lost” private collection of the famous Sinologist Fujitsuka Chikashi (1879-1948) during the 1950s. Fujitsuka, a specialist in Sino-Korean-Japanese exchange, bought over 10,000 books in Liulichang in the early 20th century. Although most of his collection burned during the allied bombings of Tokyo, his home collection (his most valued books) survived and was gradually auctioned off after his death.

Until Dr Min Jung’s visit to Harvard, the location of most of his collection remained a mystery. Min Jung began to realize the Yenching held a significant portion of his books when he recognized Fujitsuka’s seal on the inside of a book. Intrigued, he began to identify a significant number of Fujitsuka’s books. He discovered important items scattered through the stacks, the depository, and the rare book room. The most astonishing moment of his talk occurred when he showed us an image of a piece of calligraphy that fell out of a book from the depository. The calligraphy was written by a famous eighteenth century Korean scholar, and Min Jung stated, “This was in the depository. This scrap of paper is worth tens of thousands of dollars in Korea.”

 

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