About six months ago, I announced that I’m writing a book about East Asian calligraphy. I’ve continued to work on it since then, and thought I might devote a couple more blog entries to it. I’ll start off with an elaboration of why I’m writing the book in the first place.
There are already a number of informative English language books about East Asian calligraphy (such as Chinese Calligraphy [The Culture & Civilization of China] published by Yale University Press). But all of the books that I’ve come across have the same shortcoming: they read like they were written for people who already have a firm grasp of the subject.
East Asian calligraphy is a form of creative expression that doesn’t really have a Western equivalent. As such, its tenets must be explained from scratch if it is to be meaningfully understood. Most of the “introductory” books about East Asian calligraphy that I’ve read fail to provide this context. They launch straight into technical discussions about dynastic periods and picto-ideographs and script subcategories without adequately explaining the big picture. I often have a hard time making it through these books, and I’ve devoted the past eighteen months to studying the subject.
There is a real need for an English language book that introduces East Asian calligraphy in a way that is both entertaining and layperson-friendly, and it is my hope to create a book to fill this need.
Next week I’ll write a bit about what makes East Asian calligraphy unique from other art forms.