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Donation enables digitisation of Chinese unofficial poetry journals

Leiden University Libraries (UBL) has received a donation from Dr. Freerk Heule to digitise and publish an internationally unique collection of unofficial (minjian) poetry journals from China. These poetry journals are produced outside the official infrastructure for literature in China for literature and are extremely difficult to find. Digitising the journals will mean that they are widely accessible for research and educational purposes, and for the interested public. The UBL is exceptionally grateful to Dr Heule for his donation.

Fascinating field of research
Unofficial poetry journals are a fascinating field of research in Chinese and comparative literary history. The journals are comparable to the Soviet Russian samizdat publications and the ‘little magazines’ associated with early modernism in the West. Unofficial poetry journals are still published today; they circulate widely among Chinese poets, critics and researchers and are highly influential. New publications will be added to the UBL’s collections.

Twelve famous titles now available in digital form
Since the journals are published outside the official infrastructure for literature in China, they are extremely difficult to find. The UBL recently digitised twelve famous titles, comprising a total of around 1,000 pages, and made them available online. Thanks to Dr. Heule’s donation, the UBL will be able to digitise more of this material and add unique publications to the online collection.

‘I first became interested in China and Chinese literature and art while I was studying Medicine at the VU around 1968. I later became drawn to philosophy and certain aspects of Sinology. In two short publications I explored the poems of Li Bai and Li Qingzhao, searching for expressions of nature and anxieties. And in a recent book, I looked for the sources of eighteenth-century Chinoiserie, as an act of imitation and early intercultural communication. The painter Huang Shen (1687-1772) was a project of my most recent trip to China: how was he able to portray the human face so masterfully? All of these studies had one thing in common: I was looking for the soul of the Chinese people. Giving people access to this unique collection of poetry journals from China will also go some way to revealing this soul. I hope that my donation will give the project a good start and lead to great results.’

Dr. Freerk Heule

Dr. Freek Heule

Support us
If you share Dr. Heule’s interest in providing access to the collection of unofficial poetry journals and would like to offer us financial support, or if you own unofficial poetry journals from China and might consider donating them to the UBL, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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