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Molly Cule
159211.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:38 am Reply with quote

There ought to be something QI about encyclopedias.... Some interesting-ish things to start off a thread...

I read in a book that the longest is is China’s Yu-Hai encyclopedia, meaning 'Jade Ocean', it is 240 volumes and was written by one man, Wang Yinglin as a manual for students learning for the great state examinations. It was completed in 1252 and published years later in 1337. The China state examinations might be another topic? Or are they really well known?

Diderot’s encyclopedie, written by Voltaire and others debuted in Paris in 1751 – editors were jailed and police scoured the city to find copies and burn them. Apparently the volumes were locked up in Bastille but I can't find a good source for this.
During a dinner party of King Louis XV the guests fell into disagreement about the composition of gunpowder. The King's mistress pointed out that she knew nothing of how her silk stockings were made. "The duc de la Vallie’re then said that he regretted the order by the king banning the Encyclope'die, which would undoubtedly contain all this information. The King replied that, although he had not actually seen the Encyclope'die, he had been assured it was most dangerous. He agreed, however, to examine it and see for himself." (Stockwell 2001:90). After some difficulty, servants found a copy which contained descriptions for gunpowder, rouge, and silk stockings. Even though its usefulness was proven, the King maintained his ban.


Molly Cule
159214.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:41 am Reply with quote

California is "a large country of the West Indies. It is uncertain whether it be a peninsula or an island."
From the first Britannica Encyclopedia, 1771

159217.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:42 am Reply with quote

Molly, is your Jade Ocean the same thing as the Yongle Encyclopedia?


The Yongle Encyclopedia or Yongle Dadian was commissioned by the Chinese Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle in 1403. It is the world's earliest and largest general encyclopedia.

Two thousand scholars worked on the project, incorporating eight thousand texts from ancient times up to the early Ming Dynasty. They covered an array of subjects, including agriculture, art, astronomy, drama, geology, history, literature, medicine, natural sciences, religion, and technology, as well as descriptions of unusual natural events. The Encyclopedia, which was completed in 1408 at Nanjing Guozijian comprised 22,877 manuscript volumes in 11,095 books occupying 40 cubic metres (1400 ft³).


I would say possibly not

159222.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:45 am Reply with quote

California was thought to be an island for a long time.

The origin of this error is Las Sergas de Esplandian, a romantic novel written in 1510 by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, stating

“that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of the Amazons.”

Molly Cule
159223.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:47 am Reply with quote

No. Doesn't look like it. I can't find much at all on the Jade Ocean other than a brief mention in the book I was reading...

This is from Wikipedia re the Britannica.

The Britannica was dedicated to the reigning British monarch from 1788 to 1901 and then, upon its sale to the United States, to the current United States President and reigning British monarch.[2] For example, the 11th edition is dedicated "by Permission to His Majesty George the Fifth, King of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and to William Howard Taft, President of the United States of America."[7] The order of the two dedications changed with the relative power of the United States and Great Britain, and with the relative sales of the Britannica in the two lands; thus, the 1954 version of the 14th edition is "Dedicated by Permission to the Heads of the Two English-Speaking Peoples, Dwight David Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second".[8] Consistent with this tradition, the 2007 version of the current 15th edition is "dedicated by permission to the current President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, and Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II".[9]

Molly Cule
159225.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:48 am Reply with quote

I love that map! It looks a bit like Madagascar - if the continent was Africa and it was flipped over... maybe not!

Molly Cule
159227.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:50 am Reply with quote

a newspaper ad...

For Sale!
Complete Set of Encyclopaedia Britannica!
Never Used — My Wife Knows Everything!

159228.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:50 am Reply with quote

Wang was a very diligent scholar and has written many works. The most extensive one is the encyclopedia Yuhai [玉海] ("A Sea of Jades") in 100 chapters (juan [卷]). It was written by Wang to prepare himself to the boxue hongci examination mentioned above. It is a collection of facts on various topics; the contents of the Yuhai seems to have been memorized entirely by Wang Yinglin, a very astonishing achievement!

From "The only genuine Wang Yinglin page on the whole WWW!"

159234.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:54 am Reply with quote

EBR says:


One of the richest and most important of all Chinese encyclopaedias, the Yuhai (“Sea of Jade”), was compiled about 1267 by the renowned Song scholar Wang Yinglin (1223–92) and was reprinted in 240 volumes in 1738.

What was probably the largest encyclopaedia ever compiled, the Yongle dadian (“The Great Canon of the Yongle Era”), was issued at the beginning of the 15th century. Unfortunately, only a very small part of its 22,937 chapters has survived; these were published in 1963.

So, you're right, it seems they are different.

Last edited by eggshaped on Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:54 am; edited 1 time in total

Molly Cule
159235.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:54 am Reply with quote

When Fath Ali became the Shah of Persia in 1797, he was given a complete set of the Britannica's 3rd edition, which he read completely; after this remarkable feat of scholarship, he extended his royal title to include "Most Formidable Lord and Master of the Encyclopædia Britannica".


Molly Cule
159236.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:55 am Reply with quote

EB offers its readers more than a mere 24 volumes of knowledge. Any owner of a set is entitled to ask EB any 50 questions in ten years that he cares to, and readers send in queries at the rate of 35,000 a year—from "Who is the Unknown Soldier?" to "What color was Eve's hair?"

159237.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:57 am Reply with quote

I have a press cutting (somewhere) - an advert for an Encyclopedia Britannica product (CD-rom, or whatever it was) with the priceless tag line: “It’s never too late to stop learning!”

Molly Cule
159238.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:57 am Reply with quote

So Wang's enormous 'Jade Ocean' encyclopedia was written as revision for his exams? : )

159239.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:57 am Reply with quote

Cool. QI has a copy hasn't it? Have we used our full compliment of questions yet? Can I suggest "Who invented the ear-spoon?".

159240.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:59 am Reply with quote

The word encyclopaedia at first meant a circle or a complete system of learning—that is, an all-around education.



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