An­cient wis­doms in French

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By YU RAN in Shang­hai


The orig­i­nal col­lec­tion of pic­to­rial books fea­tur­ing some of the great­est minds in China’s history, such as Con­fu­cius, Laotzu and Men­cius, will be avail­able in French in June 2016.

Ti­tled The Pic­to­rial Bi­ogra­phies of Great Thinkers, the seven-book col­lec­tion com­bines sto­ry­telling and tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ings to show­case the fam­ily life, daily set­tings, and cus­toms of six an­cient philoso­phers. It was orig­i­nally avail­able only in English and Chi­nese and the lat­est move to print a French version rep­re­sents the pub­lisher’s aim to tar­get more for­eign read­ers.

“We have to show the an­cient wis­doms of China from a world­wide per­spec­tive in­stead of a nar­row, lo­cal one,” said Liu Jun, man­ager of Shang­hai City An­i­ma­tion Pub­lish­ing and Me­dia Com­pany Lim­ited, the founder and or­ga­nizer of the project.

The com­pany spent three years preparing the col­lec­tion, car­ry­ing out re­search to de­ter­mine the kind of paint­ing styles that ap­peal to for­eign read­ers, and work­ing with the re­gional gov­ern­ments in the home­towns of the fea­tured Chi­nese philoso­phers to cre­ate con­tent for the pic­to­ri­als.

“The tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing style is the most pop­u­lar type se­lected by hun­dreds of for­eign in­ter­vie­wees in Shang­hai, and it is also the best method to re­pro­duce im­ages of th­ese great thinkers,” said Liu.

The pub­lisher also went to the ex­tent of hir­ing a highly ex­pe­ri­enced group of pain­ters who were tasked with il­lus­trat­ing the philoso­phers. Guo Defu, the artist who worked on the bi­og­ra­phy of Lao-tzu and Con­fu­cius, il­lus­trated the lat­ter as a “tall and brave” man in­stead of the con­ven­tional “old philoso­pher” af­ter he dis­cov­ered from his­tor­i­cal ma­te­ri­als that Con­fu­cius was good at archery and run­ning.

Liu and his team are also cur­rently hav­ing dis­cus­sions with pub­lish­ers in the United States, Korea and Ja­pan about col­lab­o­ra­tions for pro­duc­ing the col­lec­tion in other lan­guages.

“The col­lec­tion is en­tirely recre­ated for for­eign read­ers to learn and understand tra­di­tional Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy in a more vivid and di­gestible medium,” said Shen Hongyi, deputy pro­fes­sor of Chi­nese Stud­ies, Shang­hai Univer­sity, who was the aca­demic ad­vi­sor for the col­lec­tion.

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