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A look through pages from President Xi Jinping's bookshelf

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-22 07:20

President Xi Jinping reiterated his love of reading, especially classic novels, at an Oct 15 literature and arts symposium in Beijing.

Xi chaired the event, which gathered some of the country's top writers, dancers, musicians and other artists.

The president gave a speech calling upon artists to create works that are not only artistically outstanding but also morally inspiring, and he engaged in discussions with attendees.

He recalled reading when he lived as a zhiqing - urban youth who toiled in the countryside to answer Mao Zedong's call for them to be re-educated by farmers - during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

Xi said he felt lucky when he got to help a driver transport books from a confiscated library and was able to keep all he wanted.

Chinese media quoted Xi as telling those attending the symposium he read all the classic literature he could get at that time.

Once he walked 30 kilometers to borrow Faust from another zhiqing and then another 30 km to return it.

When talking about Russian literature, he thought Fyodor Dostoevsky's writing was very deep, and Leo Tolstoy's works were very broad, and he liked Tolstoy more.

Xi specifically mentioned Tolstoy's War and Peace and also nodded to Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time.

He said he also liked Mikhail Sholokhov's And Quiet Flows the Don.

He said the book contains a very in-depth depiction of the transformation of times and human nature.

Xi also acknowledged the "inspiring" character of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

He recalled visiting the place where Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea during his first trip to Cuba and the bar Hemingway frequented during his second trip.

While the trips were 10 years apart, he reportedly said, the sea and sky were equally vast each time.





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