Friday, April 17, 2020

Review of "Between Heaven and Earth: A History of Chinese Writing," by Shi Bo

Review of

Between Heaven and Earth: A History of Chinese Writing, by Shi Bo ISBN 1590300505

Five out of five stars

 The structure of Chinese writing is fascinating, albeit very difficult for western eyes. Constructed from pictograms, the characters are based on reduced representations of the objects they depict. They have changed significantly over time, becoming more simple in structure. This book follows the modifications of some of the characters over time. It is also a brief history lesson about the various dynasties that ruled China throughout its long history. The first entry in the chronology is twenty-first to sixteenth century B.C.E.

 One of the most interesting statements is that Mao Zedong is considered one of the best calligraphers of his time. Many other significant people in the history of Chinese calligraphy are also mentioned and given appropriate credit.

 Given the length of time the Chinese have been writing, it is natural that their language would have evolved a great deal. With the rise of extensive literacy, it is very helpful to simplify the language so that the masses can understand. As can be seen from this book, that evolution is logical and sometimes led to violent events.

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