A book fair on antiquity can make opposites attract when it brings together the epitomes of ancient civilizations — Greece from the West and China from the East. For this year’s Thessaloniki Book Fair, the seventh in the series, Greece has invited China to join 22 other countries during the four-day event, which will kick off Thursday in the north of the country.
Greek and Chinese publishers, authors and bookdealers will compare notes with their counterparts from other countries in such publication domains as literature, architecture, agriculture and – last but not least – culture.
Greek Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos is scheduled to officially inaugurate this year’s book fair with the theme of “Antiquity and Us.”
Fair organizers expect that the China stand will become a major attraction with its contemporary as well as ancient publications on literature, culture, economy and science.
The book fair hosts each year invite a country as their guest of honor. For this year, the hosts expect to promote understanding and exchange through discussion and debate.
Already in Greece for this year’s book fair are some 200 Chinese writers, publishers and scholars who will share their insight into the world they all share, namely their writings.
A special Sino-Greek professional publishing exchange forum will be held in Athens as well as in Thessaloniki.
Eight publishing houses from Greece and China will participate in the forum to discuss and analyze case-by-case international cooperation in the realm of culture. Other events include a Chinese – Hellenic dialogue and a China literature night.
The dialogue will focus on the theme of “ancient civilization and modernization,” while the screening of seven China-made films, including a 3-D documentary on contemporary arts and crafts, will be given during the literary night.
Participants from both Greece and China believe that publications serve as a medium of culture and civilization. Publications in their various forms help strengthen understanding, interaction and cooperation among countries.
Greece and China have started cooperation in translating each other’s literary works. Translated works will be on display at the China stand to demonstrate this cooperative outcome.
The 2010 book fair will also provide Greece and China an opportunity for comparing notes on the latest ideological developments in their respective regions and in the world as a whole.
Oriental names may sound exotic to Western ears, but when book fair visitors listen to and see what Chinese writers and artists have brought to Greece, they may understand the thought behind works of Chinese authors, painters and sculptors like Ru Xin, Zhang Yuyan, Yu Dan, Chen Qi, Bi Feiyu, Cao Wenxuan, Chen Shixu, Huang Beijia, Liu Ye, Xu Lei and Sui Jianguo.
Greek Studies in China
A characteristic of the cultural rapprochement between the two countries, especially in the past few years, is the fact that the Greek language is constantly gaining ground in China and vice versa, more and more Greeks, defying the obstacles, are “initiated” to the secrets of a particularly difficult language.
In Beijing, for example, at the Chair of Greek Studies of the University, students can discover the wealth of Greek Literature with the valuable contribution of their teachers.
Likewise, substantial work for the promotion of the Greek language is being done at the Shanghai International Studies Universities, also known as SISU, founded in 1949 and a major Educational Institution of China, as well as one of the universities of “Project 211”, an initiative of the Chinese government as a national priority for the 21st century, focusing on supporting around 100 Higher Education Institutions. The University of Beijing, is actually operating under the direction of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Shanghai Municipality.
The invaluable heritage of the Greek language, helping the image of Greece travel around the world throughout the years, was captured on a DVD – reprint of an earlier printed edition – entitled “You speak Greek – over 6.000 words are being used in English, but you just don’t know this!” The DVD marks a major communication effort of the Beijing Press and Communication Office towards the academic community of China and the social “elite” – tourists visiting Greece.