Fashionable topics

Will Snippets 2 Comments

I’ve just finished reading Julia Lovell’s translation of Lao She’s wonderful novel, Mr. Ma and Son, and I thought I’d share the following short quote.

In the book, the hapless ex-missionary, Reverend Ely, is trying to persuade Mr. Ma to write a book comparing Western and Chinese cultures. The good clergyman is not entirely disinterested in his urging, because he himself is working on a book called A History of Taoism, and needs some help with his poor Chinese. Anyway, here’s the quote, which is still pertinent today:

[quote]The Reverend Ely pulled out his pipe, and slowly filled it with tobacco. ‘I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking on your behalf for some time now, and I feel that while you’re abroad, you ought to take the opportunity of writing something. The best thing would be a comparison of Eastern and Western cultures. That’s a fashionable topic nowadays, and it doesn’t matter particularly whether what you write’s correct or not. As long a you say something with conviction, anything at all, you’ll be able to sell it…'[/quote]

— Lao She, Mr Ma and Son, trans. Julia Lovell

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