Closeup: An avid reader and his dictionary

2024-04-24 08:04:27 | Author:xinhua | Source:xinhua 2024-04-23

BEIJING, April 23 (Xinhua) -- A dictionary caught the attention of Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the China National Archives of Publications and Culture last June.

Versions of the Xinhua Dictionary published in the 1950s and 1960s were on display, with their pages having turned yellowish with age.

The Chinese dictionary, a reference book with a large circulation, is among the most popular dictionaries in the world.

"I've used these editions," Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, told those at the scene while looking at several editions of the dictionary on display, his words tinged with nostalgia.

"I had such a dictionary in my pocket while working in the fields. During rest breaks, I would take it out to flip through a page or two, reading character by character," he recalled.

The president was referring to his life since 1969, when he was sent from Beijing to work as a farmer at Liangjiahe, a village in northwest China's Shaanxi Province. He spent seven years there and left at the age of 22.

"I would chew on the pronunciations and meanings of a character, figuring out the precise way to use the characters and phrases," he added.

The recollections showed an avid reader who developed this hobby from childhood.

Villagers in Liangjiahe still remember that Xi brought two suitcases full of books when he arrived in the village. During those years, the village had not yet been connected to the electricity grid. Xi read under a kerosene lamp.

During his stay, Xi read nearly all the literary classics he could find. For once, he overheard that a young man from Beijing had a copy of "Faust." Xi walked a long way to borrow it.

After reading "What Is to Be Done" by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Xi emulated the protagonist to temper his will, removing the mattress and sleeping on a bare bed.

In addition to literary books, the young Xi Jinping also delved into classics like "Das Kapital." By the time he entered college in 1975, he had read the book three times, filling 18 notebooks with his reflections.

Decades later, he recalled a touching moment reading how Bishop Myriel helped Jean Valjean and changed his life in "Les Miserables," saying that "Great works always have such a great power to move readers."

Xi's passion for reading has constantly remained since childhood. Quoting an ancient Chinese proverb, Xi once said, "One's life is limited, but knowledge is limitless." ■