Thursday, May 04, 2017

Another new book in the former native speaker's library

This is a two-volume boxed set, published privately in 1966 by Felix Tardio while he was in Taiwan. The first volume, Mr. Tardio Sees Taiwan: A Critical Look at the Physical Environment of Taiwan, consists of essays, poems, and some drawings about Taiwan's architecture. Volume Two, Mr. Tardio Draws Taiwan: Sketches of Taiwan, consists of reproductions of drawings that he did of the physical environment. I went in search of this book when I saw it mentioned in A Borrowed Voice: Taiwan Human Rights through international Networks, 1960-1980. According to the printing information inside Volume One, the print run was 600 copies, and mine is copy number 546. It's signed by the author.

Tardio's bio is printed at the end of Volume Two:
Mr. Felix Tardio has been in Taiwan since 1963. During that time he served as Assistant Professor at Tunghai University in 1963/64, Associate Professor of Architecture at Tunghai in 1964/65, and one semester each at Chung Yuan College and the Chinese Culture Institute in 1965/66.
The summers between school years were spent travelling in Asia, Europe, and the US.
He received his education at the Department of Architecture of the University of Notre Dame and at the Graduate Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
Born in Pennsylvania, Mr. Tardio worked for various Architects in New York for five years prior to coming to Taiwan, and now considers New York City his home.
There doesn't appear to be much else information about Tardio online, but from what I can find, he was born in 1934 and died in Pennsylvania in 2011.

These books have been mentioned in a book by 李志銘 entitled 舊書浪漫:讀閱趣與淘書樂. Joseph R. Allen also quoted from Tardio in his book, Taipei: A City of Displacements, calling his depiction of Taipei's architecture "scathing" (44).

More on this as I (gingerly) page through it...

Update (5/5/17): A Facebook friend pointed to me this (Chinese-language) discussion on Facebook. The poster has done me the favor of scanning the images from the second volume. Some of the discussion is about the locations of the buildings in the drawings, but there's also some discussion about Tardio, including a link to pictures of Tardio when he was in college. They're interested in finding out how they might get the rights to translate and publish the book, but Tardio is dead and apparently didn't have any descendants.

Here is Lynn Miles on Tardio (from A Borrowed Voice, pp. 22-24):
... Felix Tardio ... was bringing his teaching stint at Tunghai to a close so that he could devote full time to the writing of a book on Taiwan's architecture, which he found fascinating, delightful, ridiculous and dreadful. By early spring 1966 Tardio had moved to Taipei, where he burned the midnight oil, putting the last touch to his drawings, soon to become the book-length companion to a volume of drawings that had been accepted for publication by some Taipei printing house which probably had no idea what it was getting into. Both of them were to be a critique--serious in the prose but riotous in the Art--of Taiwan's Architecture (both A-words capitalized throughout). ...
... Felix was holed up in a funky Japanese-era hotel, the Fukuo, at 13 Hsinyang Street, just off Kuanchien Road, in the old Japanese-built section of Taipei between New Park and the railway section. I still have a vivid mental picture of the morning sun glancing off the huge waxy leaves of some tropical tree just outside his window. Tardio had his windows thrown wide open to catch the early spring air, but leftover winter chill still called for multiple layers of clothing. Big of build, he wore a turtleneck sweater under a corduroy jacket, elbows sporting patches, pocket full of pens. His trademark was a full, handlebar mustache and dark curly hair, reminding some of the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, and others of the American comedian and popular talk-show host, Groucho Marx.
But when it came to humor, he was squarely in the Groucho Marx camp. He kept Jack [Cooper] in stitches with his tales of ongoing battles with Government Information Office censors over the deletion or "correction" of every last word. He showed us some of the passages which the GIO deemed impermissible. Naturally, all of them were criticisms of the ruling powers--these "misunderstandings" of his that in their eyes needed "correcting" before the book could go to press.
The discussion of Tardio continues on page 24, but I want to encourage you to get a copy of the book--it's fascinating reading overall. Contact Dr. Linda Gail Arrigo if you're interested.

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