Book Exhibition

Alfred Forke Collection

Alfred Forke worked as an interpreter for the German Embassy in Peking and later became a professor at the Seminar für Orientalische Sprachen (Department for Oriental Languages) in Berlin and at the University of Hamburg. After studying in Geneva and Berlin, he received his doctorate in law in Rostock in 1890. During his studies in Berlin he began to learn Chinese at the Seminar für Orientalische Sprachen. In 1890, he moved to Peking to work as an interpreter for the German Embassy. In 1903 he returned to Germany to take over as professor in Berlin after the death of his former teacher Karl Arendt. In 1923 he became professor of Chinese studies in Hamburg, a post he held until his retirement in 1935. His publications covered a wide range of studies, including law, ethnology, linguistics and translations of poetry from the Han to the Song dynasties. The main focus of his research was philosophy. In this field he published, for example, his widely known The world Conception of the Chinese (1925) and his translation of Wang Ch'ung's Lun-heng.  

There is little information about the provenance of his collection. It seems likely that the bulk of his collection was assembled during his stay in China. Records from the China Institute at Goethe University indicate that the collection was first acquired by the City of Frankfurt and later by the China Institute at Goethe University. Forke's collection covers a wide range of subjects in Chinese, including historical works, philosophical writings, poetry collections, novels and much more. We would like to give you a small impression of Alfred Forke's extraordinary collection during this conference.

During the conference a small exhibition of a few selected examples of the collection will take place in the BSKW library. Dates and times are as follows:

22.08.23 11:00 - 13:00; 15:00 - 17:00
24.08.23 11:00 - 13:00; 15:00 - 17:00

Further information (PDF): Forke Collection List

Availability after the Conference

After the conference, the collection will be accessible by appointment with Charlotte Jakob (Librarian, Sinology). Please contact her via e-mail at c.jakob[at] When making an appointment, please refer to the numbers given to each title in the downloadable list. The list is a simple working document with only titles and reference numbers.