Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All about books

I am off to Heathrow in a few hours for my second trip to China, and packed in my trunk are various books I am taking with me as gifts.  They make an interesting bunch, each with its own history and its own special destination.

Gift no 1:  This is for Liu Lihong, who is my host in China.  It is a copy of Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée’s 100 Notions-Clés de la Médecine Chinoise (100 Key Concepts of Chinese Medicine), signed by Elisabeth a few days ago, specially for Liu Lihong.  As you can see, it is in French and I don’t think that Liu Lihong reads French, and therefore with it I have packed some part of the translation into English which I am doing for the edition which Sandra Hill will be publishing for Monkey Press.  I am two/thirds of the way through the book, and hope to have completed it by the end of the year, when I can hand it over to be tweaked into shape for publishing.  This is a book after Liu Lihong’s heart, as he seems to be as interested as Elisabeth is in everything which delves deeply into the classical texts.

Gift no 2:  This is for Liu Lihong’s father, who was a university teacher of English, and with whom I converse in English through sign language and the written word, as he is very deaf (and I am not much better!).  Since this is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, I thought one of Dickens’ books would be an appropriate present, and have chosen a lovely bound edition of Great Expectations.

Gift no 3:  This is for my students.  It is a secondhand copy of what we called JR Worsley’s Red Book, his book on Points and Meridians, the bible we all used, and still use, for our point location and selection.  The hardback edition has been out of print for some time, but I was fortunate to find a nearly pristine copy in the States, and just as fortunate to find a very cooperative bookseller who was happy to speed its passage across from the States in time to reach me just a few days ago.  JR signed my own copy 25 years ago, and I have photocopied his signature and pasted it to the front page of the students’ copy as visible evidence of the line of transmission stretching from JR to them, something very dear to all their hearts.

And then, in a much humbler place, I will be taking my own Kindle, reluctantly bought and even more reluctantly taken with me instead of the paper-bound books I love, but because I read so quickly and so much, and because the weight of books is always a factor when travelling, it proved a sensible buy last time I went to China.  But how pleased I was when I got back to put it aside and reach again for a proper book!

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