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Yu Dan, the "Beauty Professor"
    2007-02-11 08:58:20     CRIENGLISH.com

Yu Dan, the "Beauty Professor". [File photo: sohu.com]
Yu Dan, a professor with Beijing Normal University, is now known as "Beauty Professor" among many netizens in China. After her unique way of analyzing the ancient Chinese classic of The Analects before a TV audience, Yu Dan shot to fame almost overnight. Sales of her book Thinking about The Analects surpassed 1.5 million within 40 days of publication. Its readers ranged from grey-haired senior citizens to teenage students, from white collar workers to housewives. In today's Writings from China, Wu Jia will tell you about her story, and the book that is enjoying popularity throughout the country.


Before October, 2006, Yu Dan was still an ordinary professor in Beijing, unknown to the public, despite having been commissioned, because of her doctoral degree in Film and TV Studies, to design and direct many programs for TV stations. But after participating in a program on TV, discussing her understanding of The Analects, one of the most renowned of ancient Chinese classics, Yu Dan began to taste the limelight. Everywhere she appears, she will be crowded by people. Last December, Yu Dan published her book of Thinking about The Analects, which sold 12,600 volumes in just one day.

The Analects was completed in the third or fourth century B.C. In the following 2,000 years, a huge amount of books have been published, explaining and commenting upon this book, covering a wide range of topics discussing life, ethics, politics, education, economics and the arts.

In this fast-paced modern society, as reading of The Analects dwindles from the daily life of many Chinese people, Yu Dan's commentary on the book, reading like a story of her own, has once again aroused public interest in the classic. Yu Dan has her own specific formula, as she describes:

"To energise an ancient classic in the modern age, we must explain it and comment on its contemporaneity. When I was a student, such classics were simply to be worshipped, demanding our spending a whole life in researching and absorbing its essence. But now, as we need to spread understanding of the classic, I think we should get rid this stance of worship. We should make it easier to understand, and apply it to ordinary life."

Starting reading The Analects as early as four years old, Yu Dan says she gains a new understanding of this classic every time she reads it. The purpose for her to publish this book is simply to provide the public with her own way of understanding it, so as to inspire the reader to better feel the warmth exuded by the work.

"I just want to communicate with others through what I have myself obtained from The Analects. My age and consequent knowledge make it impossible for me to do a complete and comprehensive analysis on this classic. But I wish my book to act as a seed, to grow up in the heart of every reader, with each reaching their own understanding of the classic."



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