[ 2007-05-09 12:49 ]
|Yu Dan (L), a professor from
Beijing Normal University, signs an autograph for readers at a book
store in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi province, in this January 24, 2007 file
offerings in China these days run the gamut from Hollywood blockbusters to
domestic versions of "American Idol", but it is a book about the ancient sage
Confucius that is causing all the buzz in the streets.
"Notes on reading
the Analects", by Beijing Normal University professor Yu Dan, has become China's
best-selling book in recent memory, defying critics who say it turns Confucian
thought into self-help pulp for the modern age.
"It is good to have these teachings from old times because people are too
selfish now," 60-year-old accountant Qu Juan said of the book that has sold over
3 million copies in four months. "Everybody cares only about making money after
the economic reforms," she said, flipping through the softback at a book shop.
Yu first shot to fame in October when she went on state TV to lecture on the
Analects, a canon of Confucianism recording discussions between the ancient
Chinese sage Confucius (551-479 BC) and his disciples. She wrote the book based
on the TV transcripts.
Her mass following tells of deep anxiety about morality and beliefs in a
society that has gone through a disorienting transformation in recent decades,
"We were taught Marxism and Leninism in schools," said Tian Na, a 25-year-old
teacher who bought the book on the Internet.
"But when I became independent and went to college, I saw professors take
bribes and I felt the old slogans like 'serve the people' were no longer
relevant," she said.
Yu's book appeals across generations, despite the vastly different
experiences of growing up as Tian did, in the relatively prosperous and stable
reform era of the 1980s and 90s, or as the older generation did, during the time
of Mao Zedong.