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Resources for Literary Chinese (wenyan)


Mark Yong

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I think I've previously written up a quite extensive list of bookstores in Taipei here on CF; just see if you can find it. If not, I'll just write another post on my favourite bookstores in Taiwan ;)

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Thanks, D.! I did a search and the only thread I found which had you starting it was on Classical poetry. If you could point me to the URL for the list I'd appreciate it. In the meantime I'll keep rummaging.

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Hmm, you're right. It was bookstores in Beijing, not Taipei, that I posted about earlier. Here are some of my favourite bookstores in Taipei. The Sanmin 三民 bookstore on 重慶南路 near Taipei Main Station is excellent. If you only have time to visit one bookstore during your stay in Taipei, go here and buy all their blue 讀本 (oh, if only) and everything else they have for sale. Slightly damaged copies of their 讀本 are often sold far more cheaply in bookstores in the vicinity. You can ask clerks at the main store or try the one I used to frequent at the 中山地下書街 which is in 中山 MRT station.

There's also a lot of good bookstores near the 公館 campus of National Taiwan University (國立台灣大學). Go to 公館 MRT station and walk towards 新生南路. You'll see an Eslite (誠品) bookstore, which is nice to browse through but not where you'd want to go for Classical Chinese texts. There's an alley right next to it, and if you walk into that alley, there's an elevator on your left-hand side which will take you to the fourth floor. Mostly books imported from mainland China here, but good value for money. If you go back down and turn left (continuing down that alleyway), you'll come to a neighbourhood with plenty of bookstores, where you can easily spend an afternoon strolling around. Here are some bookstores I like:

  • 南天 (SMC Publishing) at 羅斯福路3段283巷14弄14號, reprints of many academic works in English and Chinese; also specialises in books on Taiwan, and textbooks for learners of Classical Chinese and Mandarin
  • 秋水堂 at 羅斯福路3段333巷14號1樓, mostly imported books from mainland China. There's another good bookstore across the street if you go down the slightly scary stairs, but I can't recall what it was called...
  • 問津堂 at 羅斯福路3段240巷3號(近台電大樓)
  • 聯經 at 新生南路3段94號, quite a nice selection of academic books on a wide range of subjects
  • 書林 at 新生南路3段88號2樓之5(麥當勞樓上), mostly sells English-language academic books

On the other side of 羅斯福路 there also a few second-hand bookstores, mainly on 汀州路. I think one was called the 古今書店, or something to that effect. Books here are cheap and you'll find the owners quite willing to give discounts if you buy a couple of books, especially when you can speak a few words of 閩南話.

Then there's also the excellent 萬卷樓 of which the entrance is to be found next to the McDonald's outlet at 古亭捷運站. This is a quite well-known bookstore in the 師大 area, so if you can't find it, just ask one of the many students and lecturers you will encounter.

For Classical Chinese texts specifically, my recommendations would be 三民, 萬卷樓, 聯經 and the bookstore opposite 秋水堂.

Of course, you will find many outlets of 誠品 all over Taipei, and the one that's open 24 hours a day near 敦化捷運站 is nice, but you won't find a lot of Classical Chinese texts or dictionaries there.

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D., thanks a million! Can't wait to hit town! On my to-do list for the first day I already had plans for SMC and YeeWen books; now I just might budget the whole day for the T'ai-ta area, and bring extra cash. D., your knowledge is godlike; thanks for sharing!

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