Interview: Book gifted to Xi connects Chinese, Greek civilizations: author

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-01 20:21:02|Editor: ZX
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ATHENS, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Books and similar intellectual traditions "are the best passport" when it comes to contacts with a modern country with a long history, Greek book historian Konstantinos Staikos told Xinhua in a recent interview here.

"Books and Ideas: The Library of Plato and the Academy," a book gifted by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to Chinese President Xi Jinping during Xi's visit earlier November, highlighted the special bonds connecting the two civilizations.

As the author of the book, which has been translated into Chinese, Staikos said that "it is in a way a symbol of connections between the Chinese and Greek civilizations on a philosophical and intellectual level."

The publication presented to Xi was a unique edition: handmade, printed on high-quality paper with special bookbinding and a red leather case.

"Undoubtedly it is a great honor," Staikos said, who is also an architect.

The book examines the papyrus books collected by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, the works of Greek thinkers of antiquity, the studies introduced in the Academy founded by Plato, as well as its architecture.

"Basically the book refers, to some extent, to the monastic community old philosophical schools represent," Staikos said.

Staikos has been studying similarities between Greek and Chinese monastic communities and schools in antiquity.

He got acquainted with Buddhist art when he studied as a university student in Paris in the 1960s, during which he researched ancient Greek influences on Asian arts, and started studying Chinese philosophy and culture.

After a visit to China in 2014, Staikos delved deeper into the history of Chinese libraries, because it is "very interesting and useful" for Greeks to have a chance to learn more about the history of books and libraries in China.

Exploring libraries in China is one of his plans, he said as he spoke of his first visit to China at the invitation of Tsinghua University.

"I had the opportunity to also travel to Ningbo, where I visited the first and oldest existing Chinese library," which was built in the 1560s, he said, referring to the Tianyi Ge.

During his visit to China, he gave lectures on the libraries of Mount Athos, an Orthodox Christian monastic community in northern Greece. Following that visit, some of his books were translated into Chinese.

The next step is to make them accessible to a wider audience, along with his book collection on the intellectual printing and publishing activities of Greeks from the 15th to the late 19th centuries, he said.

"We are planning a platform on the Internet which will provide all this information and very important depictive arts materials, like the images of the library in Ningbo," Staikos said.