Monday, June 05, 2006

Five new books in the former native speaker's library

(Warning: mixed romanization follows. Proceed with caution.)

After our interesting non-vegetarian meal, the former native Chinese speaker and I wandered up to the 18th floor of Sogo, where there was in progress a large book sale benefitting the Cheng Feng Hsi Cultural and Educational Fund (鄭豐喜文化教育基金會). The fund is named after Cheng Feng Hsi, a famous writer who was born with severely handicapped legs. Despite the hardships of being disabled and poor, he graduated from National Chung Hsing University and returned to his native village to teach. He also wrote a best-selling book, A Boat on the Boundless Ocean (汪洋中的一條船). After Cheng succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 31 in 1975, his widow Wu Chi-chao (吳繼釗) started a foundation for helping the disabled and poor. (The book sale at Sogo goes until June 11, by the way. Books were donated by area bookstores and are on sale for half the cover price.)

OK--the books I bought are:
  • Photographs of Taiwan During the 1960's (六十年代台灣攝影圖像), by Ellen Johnston Laing (藝術家出版社, 2002).
    This book has a nice bilingual introduction in which Laing describes her life in Taiwan during the early 1960s. She had received a Fulbright to study Chinese language and art in Taiwan, and she lived in Taipei and Taichung. While in Taichung, she and her husband Richard lived in an old Japanese-style house on a lane off Minquan Road and she took the bus to Tunghai to study Chinese. She also went to the pre-Taipei National Palace Museum, which she describes as "a few unpretentious buildings nestled below the foothills outside Wu-feng and guarded by military police" (26-7). This book has some wonderful pictures of her house and 1960s Taichung. By the way, its "intended" English title seems to be Photographs of Bygone Taiwan: Taiwan in the 1960s, but it's also (mysteriously) titled Photography of Taiwan During the 1960s on the National Library stamp in the back of the book.

  • 台灣五大家族 (Taiwan's Rich and Powerful Families: The Old Monies), by Sima Xiaoqing (司馬嘨青) (玉山社, 2000).
    This book introduces the Yans of Keelung, the Lins of Banqiao, the Lins of Wufeng, the Gus of Lugang, and the Chens of Kaohsiung.

  • 阿樺:台灣建國烈士詹益樺紀念專書 (Ah-Hua: A Book Commemorating Chan Yi-hua, Martyr for the Cause of Building the Taiwanese Nation), ed. Zeng Xinyi (曾心儀) (editor, 1989)
    Chan Yi-hua committed suicide by self-immolation on May 19, 1989, during a funeral procession for Cheng Nan-jung, a pro-independence journalist who also committed self-immolation when police tried to arrest him for sedition. (More information on this is available in this issue (PDF) of the pro-independence Taiwan Communique. There's also an article available here.)

  • 台灣歷史年表:終戰篇 I (1945-1965) (A Chronology of Taiwan History: 1945-1965), chief ed. Xue Huayuan (薛化元) (Institute for National Policy Research, 1993)
  • 台灣歷史年表:終戰篇 II (1966-1978) chief ed. Xue Huayuan (薛化元) (Institute for National Policy Research, 1994)
    These two volumes list major political, economic, social, and international events that affected Taiwan. They also cite contemporary newspaper and magazine articles that covered those events.

All in all, the five books cost me less than the cover price of the last two books. Not a bad deal.

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