Biography in English

Chang Yuan-chi (1866-14 August 1959), largely responsible for developing the Commercial Press into the largest publishing house in China, produced a major textbook series, built up the Han-fen-lou library, and, using modern techniques, initiated the large-scale reprinting of rare books, including the 24 dynastic histories and rare editions of the Ssu-k'u cli'uan-shu. He also established and edited such magazines as the Tung-fang tsa-chih [eastern miscellany] and the Hsiao-shuo tsa-chih [short story magazine]. Born into a scholarly family in Haiyen, Chekiang, Chang Yuan-chi inherited the ancestral interest in good books and solid learning. He earned his chin-shih degree in 1892, before he was 30. Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei (q.v.) passed the state examinations and became a member of the Hanlin Academy at the same time, and he and Chang became lifelong friends.

Distressed by China's defeat in the Sino- Japanese war of 1894-95, Chang and many other young intellectuals began to agitate for political reforms. In 1898, while serving as a minor official at Peking, he was recommended by Hsu Chih-ching to serve as an adviser to the reform-minded Kuang-hsu emperor. Other advisers were Huang Tsun-hsien (ECCP, I, 350-51), K'ang Yu-wei, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (qq.v.), and T'an Ssu-t'ung (ECCP, II, 702-5). On 16 June 1898 the emperor granted Chang Yuan-chi and K'ang Yu-wei a court audience; they stressed the necessity for overhauling the traditional examination system by eliminating the writing of conventional eight-part essays, which, they stated, had a stiffing effect upon the intellectual development of the students. Chang later sent a memorial to the throne, calling for reorganization of the bureaucracy and elimination of the ceremonial kow-tow. After the collapse of the ill-fated Hundred Days Reform in the autumn of 1898, Chang Yuan-chi was removed from his post and was proscribed from future appointment in the government bureaucracy. Officially disgraced, Chang left for Shanghai, where he continued to agitate for reform measures. In 1902 he became principal of the Xan-yang kung-hsueh (established 1897), a government-supported academy which later became Chiao-t'ung University. The school curriculum emphasized foreign languages, and Chang became head of the translation section, a post which provided him with an opportunity to gain experience in the selection and translation of foreign texts and in the preparation of manuscript for publication. He remained at the Nan-yang kung-hsueh for only a short period, however, probably leaving early in 1903, when many of its students and faculty moved to join the newly established Ai-kuo hsueh-she [patriotic society], headed by Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei. Just after the turn of the century Chang Yuanchi joined the Commercial Press, the organization to which he was to devote the rest of his working life. The Commercial Press had been established at Shanghai in 1897 as a small printing shop. When the Ch'ing court, after the Boxer Uprising, bowed to the pressure of public opinion and announced its readiness to initiate reforms which it had adamantly rejected but a few years before, the revamping of the educational system was among the first items on the agenda. Accordingly, there was a pressing demand for modern school textbooks. At the same time, the desire for modern knowledge, which had been increasing in the educated stratum of Chinese society during the late nineteenth century, offered a growing market for Chinese translations of foreign books. The founders of the Commercial Press, Hsia Juifang (d. 10 January 1910) and Pao Hsien-ch'ang (d. 9 November 1929), surveyed this situation with interest. Attracted by the potential profits in the market, they commissioned Chinese translations of a large number ofJapanese books. The results, because of the incompetence of the student translators, were disappointing. Faced with a substantial loss, Hsia and Pao sought advice from Chang Yuan-chi, who was then editing the periodical Wai-chiao pao [diplomatic review] for them. Chang recommended the establishment of a new department of compilation and translation in the Commercial Press, the staffing of that department with members of the translations section of the Xan-yang kunghsueh, and the appointment of Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei as director of the department. Ts'ai, when approached on the matter, suggested that the Commercial Press concentrate its resources on the publication of school texts. Ts'ai himself, however, was unable to devote full attention to these publication problems. In June 1903 Ts'ai left Shanghai for Tsingtao.

Chang Yuan-chi then took over the directorship of the department of compilation and translation of the Commercial Press. Under his direction the press began the publication of textbooks which had been systematically compiled by a board of editors. In addition to Chang, the board then included Chang Weich'iao (1873-; T. Chu-chuang), Chuang Yu, and Kao Feng-ch'ien, all of whom became wellknown educators. The initial volume of a ten-volume textbook series appeared in 1904, and that series soon displaced the majority of textbooks then in current use in China. In the following decade, several million sets were sold. The profits from the textbook market made possible the rapid expansion of the Commercial Press into republican China's largest and most enterprising publishing house. As a scholar turned businessman, Chang Yuan-chi was hardly to be contented with the publication of textbooks. One channel of activity into which his energies flowed was the launching and later editing of magazines of general interest. The famous Tung-fang tsa-chih [eastern miscellany], for example, made its first appearance in January 1904 under Chang's editorship; it grew into the best-known and longest-lived periodical of general interest of the republican period, appearing regularly until 1949. Between 1909 and 1915 Chang also launched such popular magazines as the Chiao-yü tsa-chih [educational journal], Hsiao-shuo tsa-chih [short story magazine], Shao-nien tsa-chih [teenagers' magazine], Hsueh-sheng tsa-chih [student magazine], Fu-nü tsa-chih [women's journal], Ying-wen tsa-chih [English studies], and others. Beginning in 1905 Chang began to build up a library of rare books, known as the Han-fen-lou, for the Commercial Press. The Han-fen-lou began modestly, acquiring its first valuable books from the Hsu family of Chekiang, with Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, an old acquaintance of the family, arranging the transaction. Books were acquired from many collections, including those of Sheng-yü (ECCP, II, 648-50), Ting Jihch'ang (ECCP, II, 721-23), and Tuan-fang (ECCP, II, 780-82). Within 20 years after its original establishment, the library was expanded into the Tung-fang t'u-shu-kuan, or Oriental Library. In 1924 it was moved to a new site in Chapei and was opened to the public in May 1926. At the time of the Japanese action at Shanghai in January 1932, the Chapei library was completely destroyed by fire. Only those books which had been moved to the vaults of the Kincheng Bank in the International Settlement, about one-seventh of the collection, escaped destruction. Prior to that disaster, the library had grown to be one of the largest in China, including more than 518,000 volumes. A catalogue of its most valuable books was published many years later (1951) under the title Han-fen-lou chih-yü shu-lu [catalogue of the Han-fen-lou library], prepared jointly by Chang Yuan-chi and Ku T'ing-lung (1905-; T. Ch'i-ch'ien). This catalogue lists 93 sets of Sung editions, 89 of Yuan, 156 of Ming, 192 handcopied works, and 17 manuscripts. The collection was notably rich in local histories, numbering 2,671 titles and including many Yuan and Ming editions.

The valuable holdings of the Han-fen-lou library enabled Chang to initiate large-scale reprinting of rare Chinese books. Advances in modern printing techniques had substantially lowered production costs, and rapid growth of libraries throughout China had created a dependable market for the products. A conscientious and well-trained scholar, Chang Yuan-chi did not rely solely on the Han-fen-lou resources, but searched indefatigably for the best available editions of those books which he wished to reprint. Before the reprinting, each book was carefully re-edited. The first important series was published by the Commercial Press under the title "Ssu-pu ts'ung-k'an ch'u-pien"; this was reprinted in 1929 with some changes in the editions reproduced. Two supplementary collections followed in 1935 and 1936: the"Hsu-pien" [first supplement] and the "San-pien" [second supplement]. Another series called the "Hsu ku-i ts'ung-shu" [library of supplementary volumes of ancient and rare texts] was published between 1923 and 1938.

Historians of China will long be grateful to Chang Yuan-chi for his role in the reprinting of the 24 dynastic histories. Dissatisfied with the editions generally available in China in the 1920's, Chang resolved to seek out the best edition of each history and succeeded in obtaining many Sung and Yuan texts for the project. Throughout this arduous undertaking, he acted as chief editor, supervising the collation of variant versions. The entire set of histories, entitled the "Po-na-pen erh-shih-ssu shih" [the Po-na edition of the twenty-four histories] , was published during the years from 1930 to 1937. From the voluminous notes that Chang and his assistants accumulated during their editorial labors, Chang selected the more significant ones for the explanatory notes which he appended to the histories. In 1938 he selected some of these items and assembled them in a single volume entitled Chiao-shih sui-pi [notes on the checking of historical treatises] In November 1935, after months of negotiation between the ministry of education at Nanking and the Commercial Press at Shanghai, a joint enterprise was begun under Chang's direction to reproduce for the first time the Wenyuan-ko edition of the famous Ssu-k'u ch'uan-shu (see Chi Yun, ECCP, I, 120-22), which then was housed in the Palace Museum at Peiping. Many earlier attempts had ended in failure, and again it was deemed impossible to reproduce the whole of the vast manuscript library. There was long debate among the scholars about which books to select. On the advice of Ch'en Yuan (q.v.), it was decided that only those books which had been copied into the Ssu-k'u ch'uan-shu from the Ming encyclopedia, the Yung-lo ta-tien, should be included. The resulting publication, the Ssu-k'u ch'uan-shu chen-pen, represented only about one-fifth of the entire Ssu-k'u compendium. In addition to these editorial labors, Chang Yuan-chi had found time to prepare works in which he had a personal as well as a scholarly interest. In 1917 he compiled and published the Wu-hsü liu chün-tzu i-chi [the behest writings of the six gentlemen executed by the emperor in 1898], which contained the writings of his fellow patriots who participated in the Hundred Days Reform of 1898. Weng T'ung-ho (ECCP, II, 860-61), the prominent scholar-official of the late Ch'ing period, had been the chief examiner when Chang won his chin-shih degree in 1892. Weng's diary, concerning the years from 1858 to 1 905, was an important document for students of modern Chinese history. It was through Chang Yuan-chi's patient and persistent negotiations with Weng's descendants that the diary was photographically reproduced by the Commercial Press in 1925. In his years of service at the press, Chang had been promoted to supervising manager in 1920 and had become chairman of its board of directors in 1930. In addition to his managerial and scholarly contributions to the firm, he had invented in 1923 a new machine for the more efficient and economical setting of Chinese type. When the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1937, Chang, already over 70, went into semiretirement, but he continued to follow national events with keen interest. At his old home in the Hai-yen district of Chekiang, a private library known as the She-yuan had been constructed by his ancestor Chang Ch'i-ling (T. Fu-chiu), a chü-jen of 1603. For generations this library had been kept in good condition, housing works by members of the Chang family as well as by other scholars of Hai-yen and Chia-hsing. Chang donated all of these works to the Hochung t'u-shu-kuan [Ho-chung library] at Shanghai in 1939. A catalogue describing the contents of this collection was published in 1946 under the title She-yuan ts'ang-shu mu-lu [catalogue of the She-yuan library] After the victory over Japan, Chang was greatly disillusioned by the postwar policies of the National Government. Chang was elected to membership in the Academia Sinica in 1948. At the first meeting of academicians which he attended, undeterred by Chiang Kai-shek's presence, he spoke out sharply against the National Government's policy of attempting to deal with the problem of Communism in China through military means.

It was hardly surprising that the Communist authorities invited Chang Yuan-chi to participate in the first session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which was held in September 1949. At 83, he was the oldest member of that historic assembly. Chang was appointed in 1949 to membership on the East China Military and Administrative Committee and, in 1953, to its successor, the East China Administrative Commission. Throughout these years he retained his long-standing connection with the Commercial Press, as chairman of the board, and, after the firm was converted to a joint state-private enterprise in 1953, as general manager. In 1954 Chang was elected deputy from Shanghai to the First National People's Congress. He was reelected to the Second National People's Congress in 1958 and appointed director of the Shanghai Museum in the same year. He died in August 1959 at the age of 93.

Biography in Chinese

字:小斋 号:菊生

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