chronology, as a unique way in the tradition of compiling Chinese history, has a long history. For example, in the historical records, the “chronology of six countries” is a typical work. Today, the way of chronology to summarize history is not outdated, but more and more dynamic under the new typesetting technology.
recently, Zhonghua Book Company has launched two chronologies: the chronology of Chinese history and the chronology of world history. Among them, the chronology of Chinese history was compiled by many Chinese historians with the strength of a scientific research institution, while the chronology of world history was completed by Li Yafan, an architect who is a history lover and has worked hard for more than ten years. After the publication of the world history chronology, it ranked first in the academic book list of Beijing News in July.
the first reading of the chronology of world history is concise and easy to understand, not only because of the narrative way of the chronology, but also because it puts Chinese history into world history for comparison. At the end of the world history chronology, two world maps are attached to show the changes of the world’s political territory – the 1958 World map shows the political and geographical pattern after World War II and the 2010 world map shows the political and geographical pattern after the end of the cold war.
as a non history professional, who is Li Yafan in his late seventies? Why would she do such a time-consuming and laborious job? With these questions, the rule of law Weekend reporter interviewed her.
inspired by Yi Zhongtian
rule of law weekend: after reading the chronology of world history, my first feeling is who is Li Yafan? I couldn’t find the answer through the whole book.
Li Yafan: my name is Li Yafan. I don’t smell or name. What I like in my life: living in a humble room and entertaining myself in the sea of old paper books; Or travel around the world and roam in human civilization. I like what Regent Wang zaifeng said in the late Qing Dynasty: “books are really rich and noble, nothing is a little fairy.”
rule of law weekend: the only information about you on the network shows that you are a national first-class registered engineer and have been engaged in architectural design for a long time. How did you think of giving up your job and specializing in writing and history research?
Li Yafan: reading and traveling are my two hobbies. My first book, meditation in front of the wailing wall (1999), was written in Israel. This opened a new stage of my life, which was out of control. In 2002, 2004 and 2006, I published Salome: a woman conquering genius, Beauvoir: a woman pursuing freedom and Duras: an impossible woman. Unexpectedly, these three books have become best sellers.
rule of law weekend: How did you come up with the idea of compiling a chronology of world history? What history books did you refer to before and during writing? What historical traditions influenced it?
Li Yafan: I like reading books on weekdays. I also read miscellaneous books, mainly European literature, art and philosophy. I found a good way of reading, that is, horizontal comparison. I once made a table myself, but it is very small. The region is Europe, the time is the 19th century, and the fields are literature, painting, music, philosophy, architecture, etc. Until now, I realized that this was the beginning of my later compilation of chronology. But if you really want to do this, it can also be said that you have a fever in your head for a while.
at the beginning of 2008, I was bedridden due to my waist disease. However, I finally had time to settle down and read Yi Zhongtian’s book the end of the Empire – a criticism of ancient Chinese political system. This book has inspired me a lot. I know how to read history and, not just read stories, but do some thinking and research.
Yi Zhongtian’s book is of course well written, with his own understanding and thoughts, but perhaps because of too many ideas, it is a little abetting and poorly organized. Moreover, he did not make horizontal comparison in the book. Based on the theme limitation, he only made occasional comparison, such as the comparison between the city-state of time and the city-state of Greece. Therefore, I think why not draw the vertical and horizontal coordinates of history on a big table to show the world?
pay more attention to the history of world civilization
rule of law weekend: you have listed a long list of books for me, including the history of world civilization, the general history of the world, the new global history, historical studies, the history of Oxford Europe, the map of world art, the history of Christianity, the dictionary of European history, the outline of national history, etc, It can be said that it has reached ancient and modern times at home and abroad. Have you ever thought of giving up such a huge work of data collection, classification, screening and editing in the past ten years? What kept you going?
Li Yafan: writing is a happy thing for me. I am voluntary and have no pressure from any aspect. I entertain myself and gain knowledge in the process of writing. When I started the arduous journey, I wrote while learning. Sometimes I had to turn over several books for an item with only a dozen words, and then make my own judgment in different answers. For example, the issue of “Indo European people” is not mentioned in many history books. Therefore, I made a special research and wrote a paper “a preliminary study of Indo European people”. In the process of Compiling
, I thought about publishing a book, but I didn’t have confidence, because I knew that the chronology of world history was made by me behind closed doors, which was really a bit self defeating. I worked in a state of mind that I could publish it if I could, and it didn’t matter if I couldn’t publish it. In the process of writing, I am very relaxed. There is no time limit. I can do whatever I want and travel as usual. In this way, the manuscript is gradually improved and formed through modification, deletion and addition over and over again. There are both bitterness and joy.
rule of law weekend: you have referred to and used so many materials, how do you choose? Looking at the events of the 20th century,I feel that the world historical chronology pays more attention to social and cultural events than the Chinese historical chronology. For example, the world historical chronology successively mentioned the establishment of Tsinghua University in 1911 and the renaming of Beijing University in 1912, while the Chinese historical chronology mentioned more political events such as “road protection movement” and “Huanghuagang uprising”. But looking back on the chronology of the 50 years from 401 to 451, it seems that we don’t pay much attention to social and cultural events. Because during this period, in addition to briefly talking about the composition of China’s dynasties, events such as kumarosh’s translation of scriptures, FA Xian’s learning from the west, and Kou Qianzhi’s new Taoism were ignored.
Li Yafan: on the issue of historical vision, I think my level is limited and it is difficult to think too much on this issue. But I am very interested in Archaeology and give as many archaeological results as possible in the chronology. The manuscript I sent to the publishing house is called the chronology of major events in the history of world civilization. It is a chronology of the history of civilization, not a chronology of history, that is to say, its content is not only history, but also literature, art, architecture, philosophy, science, painting, music and many other aspects. The time is 5000 years.
in the chronology, I clearly marked the location of the emergence of Mesopotamian civilization, Egyptian civilization, Greek civilization, Indus River civilization, Chinese civilization, Mayan civilization and other civilizations. Unfortunately, in order to unify with the chronology of Chinese history, the publisher changed my book into the chronology of world history and added the part of prehistory. All the civilizations I marked above were cancelled, and the content was adjusted and many entries were deleted. For example, in my original watch: “Fa Xian went to Tianzhu to learn scriptures (399-412).”
and the origin of Chinese civilization. Of course, it should start with the discovery of Oracle Bone Inscriptions in Anyang, because characters are an important symbol of the beginning of civilization. Westerners think so. I agree very much. But in China, someone brought it forward. In the original, for “warmth and respect”, I marked “Chinese civilization” on the Xia Dynasty, about 2000 BC.
publishing road for non professionals
rule of law weekend: I have another question. Why do you put the deadline of the world history chronology in 2000 and the last world map is 2010?
Li Yafan: this question is very good, because it is obviously a mistake to put the 2010 map there. In fact, I didn’t put the two maps. I think I can not put them. If you want to put them, you should put some representative historical maps, such as the ancient civilization of the Aegean countries, the Persian Empire, the heyday of the Roman Empire Europe after the national migration, and the later formation of Byzantine Empire and European countries. Historical map is very helpful for learning history. It can enable you to obtain more comprehensive and accurate regional concepts and deepen your understanding of history.
rule of law weekend: after all, you are not a professional historical researcher. Were you criticized when you published it?
Li Yafan: as an architect to write world history, it really sounds a little strange, just like the sentence I heard most on the phone when I contributed: “which school are you from? What papers have you published?” When I introduced myself, the other party was surprised and disappointed. When I introduced three books I had published, the conversation continued. I sent the manuscript to eight publishing houses. Finally, Zhonghua publishing house and Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House selected my manuscript. I finally chose Zhonghua Book Company.
is now published in the chronology of world history. So far, the response is good. I am well aware that there are many deficiencies and regrets in this. I am willing to accept opinions and suggestions from all sides in order to correct them in reprint.
at the same time, I also very much hope to have the opportunity to complete my original idea, write a chronology of major events in the history of world civilization, print it in large format, and make the table in a more scientific way, so as to overlook the development process of human society from the perspective of civilization and reveal the heritage of human civilization.