Say reading.


  Author: Wang Ning (Senior Professor, Beijing Normal University)

  Not long ago, April 23rd was the "World Book and Copyright Day" established by UNESCO. Most people also call it "World Reading Day", so it was set on this day because April 23rd was the day when the British dramatist Shakespeare and the Spanish writer Cervantes died at the same time.

Say reading.

Bright pictures/vision china

  Shakespeare and Cervantes are great writers we respect. In China, few people with high school education or above don’t know Hamlet and Don Quixote. Calculate, two writers died in 1616, it was forty-four years of Wanli in China in the Ming Dynasty. We might as well list the famous scholars and writers in China who were roughly contemporary with them: Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), who translated The Elements of Geometry and wrote The Complete Book of Agricultural Administration; Qian Qianyi (1582-1664), the author of The Collection of Early Learning in Muzhai; Tan Qian (1196), the author of Miscellaneous Zaolin and A Journey to the North. Li Yu (1611-1680), Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), Wang Fuzhi (1619-1692) and Zhu Yizun (1622) are the authors of Casual Stories and Ten Kinds of Songs by Li Weng.

  Gu Yanwu was born three years before Shakespeare and Cervantes died, ranking first among scholars in Ganjia. He put forward the four dimensions of "courtesy, justice and shame", established the spirit of "every man has a responsibility for the rise and fall of the world", and expressed the patriotic feelings of "there is always a universal heart when there is no cone of soil" and "the heaven and the earth are full of courage, and the mountains and rivers read the temples". He is not only a Chinese scholar, a writer and a thinker, but also an iron-clad scholar and a brilliant example of the intellectual community. He said, "A gentleman should learn from Ming Dow and save the world. It’ s just poetry, and the so-called carving of insects is not good! " His book, Rizhilu, is a large-scale academic reading notes accumulated over the years and written all his life. This book aims at Ming Dow and saving the world, and contains many of his practical academic and political thoughts. Pan Lei, his student, said in the Preface to the Record of Japanese Knowledge: "Mr. Wang is not a man of the world, and this book is not a book of the world." These two sentences are not excessive in their evaluation of Rizhilu. This great scholar is so close to us. Is he more famous among teenagers than Shakespeare and Cervantes? How much influence did his spirit have on today’s scholars in college? How many people will read his warning words in the process of reading and reflect on their words and deeds? In China’s ancient books, there is more than one scholar who can touch our souls, Gu Yanwu? Of course, we should absorb the wisdom of all mankind to enrich ourselves, but should we read more China books first?

  Books, especially classics, record our history. History, like a raging river, washes away the rocky reefs, forging the Chinese nation’s admirable personality with seemingly soft but stronger power than fire. Reading China’s book will make us stand upright, as the Book of Changes says, "A gentleman is knowledgeable and speaks before he goes, so as to cultivate his virtue"; It will make us wise, as Huangfu Shi said in the Tang Dynasty, "Books are not thousands of axes and cannot be worded; The text is not a hundred generations, and you can’t change it. " Huang Tingjian of the Song Dynasty also said: "If a scholar-bureaucrat doesn’t study for three days, his righteousness and reasoning will not be in his chest, and he will feel disgusting to the mirror and tasteless to people." These words seem exaggerated, but they should be his real experience, because we know a story: Huang Tingjian’s uncle once went to his study and pulled out a few books from the shelf, and he could explain the full text from beginning to end without hesitation.

  People in China have a tradition of reading. Su Shi said, "Old books are never tired of reading, and you can learn by reading them carefully." People in China have the habit of learning and thinking. Yang Wanli said, "Learning and thinking will lead to gains, and there will also be gains by touching." However, the ancients did not advocate reading dead books, but also attached importance to practice. Zilu once said: "There are people and countries, so why study and then study?" The ancients also did not advocate the indiscriminate worship of the past. King Chu Cheng was reading in the temple, and Lun Bian argued with him, thinking that outdated statutes and rules that were not in line with reality were "the dross of the former sage king".

  The ancients cherished books, because before the invention of printing, books were copied one by one, and it was very rare to spread them. The elimination rate of books is also high, and the books that can be circulated are all sorted by authority, accumulated rich and copied accurately. Sikuquanshu consists of four books, namely, classics, history, books and collections, with 3461 titles. It is bound in 36,300 volumes, 79,039 volumes and 6,752 letters. Excluding the "primary school" special books, the total number of words is 690,284,323, and the number of words that are not repeated is 27,160. These books, accumulated over more than 3000 years, are actually not too many. In the 1990s, we bid farewell to the era of lead and fire. Modern laser phototypesetting means are more advanced, and the number of books is increasing by a thousand times, and the speed of dissemination is even more alarming. Text copying can reach 2,000 pages in one hour, and copying and binding a book with two or three hundred pages takes only 15 minutes on average. Digital means, internet and mobile phones enable people with slight conditions to read books all the time, including ancient books. However, the rapid development of tools also brings indifference to books. People live in the present and enjoy modern times. Not only do they have no time to look back on history, but they even have no time to look back on yesterday. Do we still need to learn from the feelings and spirit of the ancients in reading? Don’t forget, material books are outside us, and reading makes a person’s accomplishment. When you read them, you become a spirit, which is inside us. The world is changing rapidly, the material civilization is changing, but the spiritual world is accumulating. We can completely abandon bamboo slips and silk books, carved stone tablets and typography.All these old technologies and tools are sent to museums and printed by laser phototypesetting or even more advanced means, but we can’t replace human ability and wisdom, historical experience and lessons, national dignity and self-confidence, and greatness and loftiness of personality. If so, it will be a kind of self-deprivation, which is tantamount to stepping backwards in spirit, and some people will even retreat to the wild age of ignorance.

  The advanced communication tools will inevitably lead to the miscellaneous content of the text, and the combination of fake and profound is crucial. Today, we must discriminate, sublate and criticize books, which requires greater wisdom and courage, pure motivation and sharp eyes. Remember this sentence in Mencius: "It is better to believe in books than to have no books."

  A good book never tires of reading. What we have to read is the classics of past dynasties-this is where our spirit lies. Let us know our origin from history and seek wisdom leading to the future from classics.

  Guangming Daily (15th edition, May 18, 2018)

[Editor: Wang Liyuan]