Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Exhibition to auction rare books

INSIGHT:From a rare reprint of re-annotations to a Chinese classic to illustrations of Western works, the auction is seen to stir a lot of interest

Staff writer, with CNA

A total of 197 rare and old books are to be auctioned on Saturday at the Taipei International Book Exhibition.

The most sought-after item is a rare reprint of Zhiyanzhai’s Re-Annotations to The Story of the Stone transcribed in the Jiaxu manuscript, an organizer said.

It is the earliest known copy of the Chinese classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber, Soyet Book editor-in-chief Fu Yueh-an (傅月庵) said.

The original re-annotations were brought to Taiwan in 1948 by Chinese academic and philosopher Hu Shih (胡適).

In 1961, Hu asked the Central Engraving and Printing Plant to print more than 1,000 copies.

The two-volume set that is to go on auction is one of these copies, Fu said, adding that its starting price is NT$300,000.

Also attracting the attention of collectors are two letters written by Hu in 1956 to a National Taiwan University graduate, praising his microfilm works and encouraging him to cooperate with a US organization, Fu said.

The letters are precious, because they have never before been made public and offer an insight into Hu’s dedication as an educator and mentor, Fu said, adding that the starting price is NT$500,000.

Several other rare items include limited-edition handmade books by Mitsuru Nishikawa, a Japanese writer in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era, and an autographed copy of Kyoko’s House, a 1959 novel by Japanese author Yukio Mishima.

Western works are also on the list, including an 1860 edition of the The Complete Works of Shakespeare illustrated by Joseph Kenny Meadows, an 1893 edition of Eight Illustrations to Shakespeare’s Tempest by Walter Crane and an 1898 edition of The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Rare copies of books by Chinese writers Lu Xun (魯迅) and Eileen Chang (張愛玲), Taiwanese poet Chou Meng-tieh (周夢蝶) and Taiwanese novelist Chung Li-ho (鍾理和) are also to be auctioned.

It is the second consecutive year that the exhibition is holding a rare book auction.

Last year, about 50 books were sold, raising about NT$2 million for charity, Fu said.

The event this year is to be a commercial auction, which is rare in Taiwan and will allow book owners and bidders to test the items’ real monetary value, Fu said.

Collectors from China and Hong Kong are expected to place bids, Fu said.

The auction is also intended to highlight the importance of printed books, Fu said.

“E-books do not die, but printed books will age, become worn and perish,” he said. “They are like living beings, so we feel close to them. We hope to evoke memories of old printed books.”

Organized by Soyet Book, Mollie Used Books, the Taipei Book Fair Foundation and the Taiwan Cultural and Creativity Development Foundation, the auction will be held at the Taipei World Trade Center.

The exhibition opened on Tuesday and is to run until Sunday.

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