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Yu Dan (1)
    2007-02-28 15:18:09     CRIENGLISH.com

2007-02-28



For 2,000 years, Confucian theory has been the mainstream school of thought among people in East Asia, including China, Japan, and South Korea.

And, just last year, the "Analects of Confucius" was infused with renewed popularity.

The frenzy for the ancient Chinese classic was associated with a young professor from Beijing Normal University. Yu Dan conducted a 7-part daily lecture series analyzing the "Analects" on the popular program "Lecture Room" on China's Central Television CCTV 10. It brought about a surge in audience ratings.

Yu Dan's lectures and her personal take on Confucius won the hearts of numerous audiences. Some wrote on their blogs that watching the "beautiful professor's reinterpretation of the classic on TV" was the best moment of their day. Others even uploaded video clips and quotes from her lectures on their blogs and online forums.
She shot to fame almost overnight. Last December, Yu Dan published her book "Thinking about the Analects." It sold 12,600 volumes in just one day, breaking the previous sales record in Beijing. In just one month, her book sold 900,000 copies. It was definitely the hottest book in 2006.

It's like a Chinese version of "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Yu Dan hopes the ancient wisdom contained in the "Analects" can help people readjust their ways of thinking and life tactics, so they can overcome stressful situations while maintaining a peaceful mind. Even more, beyond its place as a pillar of numerous institutions, she has managed to make the classic immediately relevant to audiences by interpreting the text as a manual.

As the lecturer herself put it in an interview with China Daily, the book is far from a highly academic publication with precise word-for-word explanations of the Confucian classic. She explains that it was only a collection of her personal readings of the ancient sage's thoughts she has accumulated over the decades.
This seems pretty obvious once you read the book's cover. She writes: "The true meaning of the Analects of Confucius is to tell us how we can live as happily as our hearts and souls want to."

The "Analects" was completed in the third or fourth century B.C. In the 2,000 years that followed, a plethora of books have been published, explaining and commenting on the work. In her book, Yu Dan simply wants to present the public with her own way of understanding it, so as to inspire others to better experience 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 of this classic. But I wish my book to act as a seed, to grow in the heart of every reader, with each reaching their own understanding of the classic."

Yu Dan herself calls Confucius "a lovable old man." In her view, he was an amiable elderly intellectual who was always working to realize his idealistic ideas about life and society. This perspective surely offers a new approach to understand Confucius, and at a significant time. With so many losing their way spiritually in confrontations with the rapidly changing world, Yu Dan's TV lectures proved a remedy for their souls. Her interpretation of the classic has taught people a new way to look at their lives and the status quo.

Yu Dan began learning the "Analects of Confucius" at the age of 4. She studied ancient Chinese literature for her bachelor's degree in the mid-1980s. Over the past decade, she has shared her thoughts with many teachers and students at Beijing Normal University and other colleges in the Chinese capital. She often impresses students with her deft use of current events, folk tales, anecdotes from daily life, and numerous quotes from classics not limited to the "Analects."

Now, her success has continued to television, with her witty lectures having attracted more audiences to her work.

Interpreting ancient classics like the "Analects" can be boring. So how did Yu Dan find her way into so many hearts? What's her trick? And what is she like in daily life? What are her plans for the future? We'll find out more about this interesting and mysterious professor tomorrow.   

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