Thursday, October 8, 2009


Eight months between blogs, and now only two days. I forgot, in writing the previous one, to include information on publications of my writings in Chinese. This is for those of you who read Chinese, or want to let you Chinese friends know.

First of all, the Sanlian Book Co. in Beijing has published new editions of four of my books, the four that were published in Taiwan by Rock Publishing International but have been out of print for some time: the three Yuan-Ming books (Hills Beyond a River, Parting At the Shore, The Distant Mountains) and Compelling Image. An earlier mainland-Chinese edition of these, published in Shanghai, was poorly produced—newsprint-quality paper, no color, sloppy design, illustrations missing—and has, I hope, disappeared. The new Sanlian books are on good paper and well designed, with lots of color, and are relatively inexpensive. My contact in the company tells me that their first printing has sold out entirely, less than a month after it appeared. But they will be printing lots more, and it will be available in Taiwan and in Chinese bookstores elsewhere: be patient.

A translation of a fifth of my books, The Painter’s Practice, has been nearly finished for some time, and is presently going through final correction and completion. Sanlian will publish that as soon as it is ready.

An anthology of my shorter writings in Chinese translation, ranging over my whole writing career, has been in preparation for some time in the Art History Department of the China Academy of Art at Hangchou, carried out mostly by Professor Gao Minglu under the supervision of Professors Fan Jingzhong and Hong Zaixin. It should appear soon.

A less happy report: the journal Yishu pinglun or “Arts Criticism,” in its issue for September 2009, printed what was intended as an announcement of my forthcoming book on what I call “vernacular painting” which will be published next spring by the U.C. Press in Berkeley. It was to be accompanied by a few of the illustrations from that book. But although my RA sent these to their editor by YouSend, they somehow failed to open or download the pictures and thus never received them. Worse, the editor chose three entirely unsuitable meiren (beautiful women) pictures to print with it, giving the false and bad impression that my book is all about those (they are treated in it, along with many other subjects) and trivializing it with two low-class examples. (The third is a well-known painting by T’ang Yin, fine but irrelevant.) Perhaps worst of all, their editor moved my opening paragraph, which announced this piece to be an excerpt from my book with summaries of the rest, to later in the article, so that it now reads as though it had been written especially for them. This was dishonest. But I learned about these actions too late to stop and reverse them, and the damage is done. Please advise your Chinese friends about this, and tell them not to take this article as it appeared as representing my real intentions.

Yang Le, my contact at the Sanlian Book Co., has asked me to write, for their publication Dushu, an account of my relationship with the historian Joseph Levenson, and I have done so, in draft. When it is finished I will put the English text on my website as one of the Responses and Reminiscences, and a Chinese translation of it will appear in Dushu.

All for now, James Cahill