Celebrated Chinese authors visit the Bodleian to donate their works

1 July 2019

Three of China’s most celebrated authors visited the Weston Library on 12 June for a special ceremony in which they donated signed and dedicated copies of their books to the Bodleian Libraries.

Chinese donations

Mo Yan is best known to Western readers for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum Clan and was the Nobel Laureate for Literature in 2012. He donated five of his novels to the Libraries as well as a large manuscript calligraphy scroll which he wrote and dedicated to the Bodleian. In his speech, he described the Bodleian as "the Great Wall of books and an ocean of knowledge."

Mo Yan was joined by fellow Chinese literary figures Su Tong and Yu Hua. Su Tong, who is one of the most acclaimed novelists in China and has had numerous works translated into English and other foreign languages, donated four of his books in Chinese. Yu Hua, another prolific and commended author whose works have been translated into 45 languages, donated eight of his works in English.

Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden and Mamtimyn Sunuodula, Head of the East Asia Section and Chinese Studies Librarian, hosted the authors and showed them a selection of treasures from the Bodleian’s Chinese collections.

Chinese books have always occupied a special place throughout the Bodleian Library’s history. The Library acquired its first Chinese books in 1604, just two years after it was founded by Thomas Bodley. It was one of the earliest libraries outside of Asia to collect Chinese books. Today the Bodleian Libraries holds one of the largest and finest Chinese collections in the world including a quarter of all the extant Chinese books that arrived in Europe in the seventeenth century.

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