Cultural Revolutions - A Firsthand Look At China's Reviving Book Scene
Andrew Edwards and Charles De Simone in Fine Books & Collections
“On a cold Tuesday in Beijing, steam rose ghost-like from sewer grates in the wide, car-choked streets. The towering buildings, monuments to China’s new wealth, stood a lonely watch as thickly bundled people hustled from heated lobby to taxi and back again. Street vendors’ breath hung in a crystalline mist over full carts of fresh candied mandarin slices, twisted fried bread and roasted sweet potatoes. South of the stark downtown and governmental edifices of Tiananmen Square and the smiling image of Chairman Mao hanging above the red gates of the Forbidden City, the narrow streets of the curio district were bustling.
“Antiques, antiques?” a man inquired in English, almost whispering, as we walked past, his gloved hands in the pockets of a worn jacket. The shops lining the street were filled with shelves offering rarities of every description, from Japanese bayonets to 1000-year-old porcelain, most of it shameless fakery. But up a concrete ramp and then a flight of rusting metal stairs to an office above an unassuming bookshop was another kind of antique trade. Nothing but the real McCoy need apply.
It was November 25, the date of the annual fall auction at the oldest and biggest antiquarian book auction house in mainland China, the Cathay Bookshop ... “
After decades of dormancy during the Cultural Revolution, book collecting in China is coming into its own, write Andrew Edwards and Charles de Simone. Edwards, a freelance writer and book lover, worked in China for a long time, Charles de Simone is still working there as a consultant to the Chinese government on tourism affairs.
Read the whole article in Fine Books & Collections
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