I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography

I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography

By Edward Hacker
Steve Moore, and Lorraine Petsco. New York: Routledge, 2002, Hardcover, 336 pages.

The I Ching (The Classic of Change) is an ancient Confucian classic that has shaped Chinese thinking for millennia. One of the oldest books in the world, it dates back to pre-historical times. Although frequently used for divination, the I Ching is also a book of metaphysics and early mathematical theory. Based upon a binomial system of broken and unbroken (yin and yang) lines, it foreshadowed the whole cybernetic world in which we now live. The great philosopher and mathematician G. W. Leibniz perceived the significance of the I Ching in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, no apparent reference to his work is included in this compilation.

In recent years, particularly since the 1960s, the I Ching has become very popular in the West as a tool for self-reflection and divination. As I Ching:  An Annotated Bibliography attests, such interest has led to innumerable books and articles about this ancient classic. The authors group these materials, which range from voluminous books to one-page broadsides, into three basic categories: (1) books and unpublished dissertations, (2) journal and magazine articles and reviews, and (3) I Ching devices and equipment. The latter category includes audio and video tapes, computer programs, I Ching cards and kits, and so on.

All items are annotated. There will, of course, be disagreement about whether each annotation does justice to the item at hand. Some of the comments are extensive, others very brief; most of them were helpful and to the point. Although there may be omissions (for example, any mention of Leibniz, surprisingly) the listings seem quite exhaustive. For anyone wishing to do research on the I Ching, this volume will be highly useful.

Nevertheless, some limitations should be noted. First, although the title does not reveal it, this bibliography refers only to works written in English. The user should be aware that there is a vast array of works in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and several Western languages that should be consulted if one is to do full justice to the subject.

Second, the title should also have indicated the time span covered. Like any other bibliography, this one is already out of date. Only a few moments of internet research uncovered a significant number of books about the I Ching published since 2001 that are not included. This, of course, is not the fault of the compilers, for every bibliography will be dated even before it is published. Nevertheless, a clearer indication of the bibliography's cut-off point would have been helpful.

Given these limitations, however, this is a very useful tool for anyone with an interest in this ancient classic. The compilers should be congratulated for their monumental achievement.


May/June 2004