Book review
by Joseph A. Adler
Kenyon College
Journal of Chinese Religions, no. 31 (2003)

I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography, by Edward Hacker, Steve Moore, and Lorraine Patsco. xvii + 336 pages. New York and London: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-93969-0. $75.00 hardback.

This extensive bibliography of English-language materials on the I Ching, or Classic of Change, inhabits and serves two worlds: the world of academic scholarship on the I Ching as a highly-influential Chinese text in East Asian history, philosophy, and religion; and the diverse and often colorful world of divination practitioners, astrologers, psychics, and amateur historians and philosophers, who have found in the I Ching and its lore a wellspring of inspiration that shows no signs of running dry. The backgrounds of the authors similarly reflect an academic/non-academic spectrum: Edward Hacker is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University; Steve Moore is a writer and former publisher of an I Ching journal that straddled both perspectives (he is also identified in the Preface as a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society); and Lorraine Patsco is a web designer who gleaned many of the references in the book from the internet (although websites devoted to the I Ching were not included).(1)

The bibliography is divided into three sections: books and unpublished dissertations (502 entries); journal and magazine articles and book reviews (486); and "devices and equipment," including audio-visual materials, computer programs, and cards, kits, and other devices (59). There is also a very short introduction to the I Ching by Steve Moore, a one-page glossary of I Ching terms, and a useful topic index. The annotations for most items are fairly extensive, but the overwhelming majority of them are not critical; they include only a summary of the contents, in many cases with substantial excerpts, some occupying as much as two pages.

The scope of the bibliography is astounding, even given its limitation to English-language materials. The authors have decided to include everything they could find that mentions the I Ching, even if only once (they identify such cases and quote the relevant passage, usually with a few paragraphs of context). Thus, mixed in with dissertations and critical scholarship one finds The I Ching Coloring Book, a 1967 "psychedelic science fiction" novel that contains brief references to the I Ching (both on p. 3), I Ching in Ten Minutes (p. 72), a single mention of the I Ching in the acceptance speech of someone receiving the Caldecott Medal for children’s fiction (p. 242), and items such as the following (p. 98):

[310] Moody (No other name given). i ching images. vol. 1, No ISBN, 61p. Brooklyn, New York: Moonbird Press. 1978.
There is no Preface or Introduction. And there is probably no volume 2. The hexagram and line text of the sixty-four hexagrams are given in verse.

The bibliography therefore documents a particular slice of popular culture as much as scholarship on the I Ching. One also finds brief scholarly and artistic references to the I Ching -- such as a journal article on a French poet whose work includes sixty-four poems corresponding to the hexagrams (p. 303) and a collection of John Cage’s music manuscripts (p. 14) – which might not have made it into a more focused, scholarly bibliography.

On the other hand, the authors have done an excellent job in compiling English-language scholarly books, articles, and book reviews on the I Ching. These extend even beyond the fields of religious studies and Asian studies to include articles in serious psychological journals (many of these relating to Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity, and so bordering on the category of pop-culture). From a spot-check of scholarly articles I have used I could find none missing from this bibliography.

The usefulness of the book naturally depends upon the reader’s location in the spectrum of scholarly expertise. For non-specialists in Chinese religions or classical Chinese texts it would be a goldmine, and an entertaining one at that. It would also be useful (and entertaining) for the specialist, provided that one supplements it with searches in Asian and other Western languages. I would recommend it for college and university libraries, although undergraduate students should be cautioned that it contains a great deal of references that would be entirely unsuitable for an academic paper.

1. In the interests of full disclosure I should add that I am listed in the acknowledgments, because a number of years ago I had sent Steve Moore, at his request, an early version of my then-unpublished translation of Chu Hsi's Introduction to the Study of the Classic of Change (I-hsüeh ch'i-meng). But I was unaware of this book until asked to review it.

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