The Exhibition of Shakespeare to Sherlock: Treasures of the British Library will be open soon


On 13 April, the National Library of China (National Museum of Classic Books) held press conference, which introduced the Exhibition of Shakespeare to Sherlock: Treasures of the British Library and other themed activities related to the exhibition in details. This exhibition will be an unprecedented Sino-British classic literature feast, and the audience can appreciate the rarely seen manuscripts, enjoy the glamour of Chinese and British culture.


The exhibition is co-sponsored by the National Library of China (NLC) and the British Library (BL), and will be open in the No.1 Exhibition Hall of the National Museum of Classic Books (NMCB). Both libraries cooperate with each other on planning, preparation and implementation. This exhibition is the outcome of the cooperation of the NLC and the BL, which brings a literature feast for Chinese audience, and plays important roles for promoting Sino-British cultural exchanges and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship of people in the two countries.


This exhibition will display 9 manuscripts and 2 early printed books of British writers, covering poetry, theatre and novel. The writers are Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Gilbert and Sullivan, William Shakespeare, Benjamin Britten, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming.


The manuscripts of British literature classic masterpieces and early valuable printed books are displayed in China for the first time, including revised manuscripts of Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, manuscripts of William Wordsworth's poem I wandered lonely as a cloud, manuscript score of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, short score manuscript of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (opera), manuscript of Lord Byron's Don Juan, the second quarto of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Charles Dickens' manuscripts of Nicholas Nickleby and the original serialized version of David Copperfield. It is reported that the manuscripts of screen version of classic literature works will be also displayed, including the manuscripts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarter, hand-written and type-written manuscripts of Ian Fleming's The Living Daylights about James Bond series and The Fabulous Pay-Off.

British world-class writers, such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and so on, had great effect on Chinese literary community. In order to fully present the effective communication and exchanges between Sino-British literature and culture, the NLC's collections will be displayed at the same time, including famous Chinese translations, adaptations, book reviews, manuscripts, and so on. Meanwhile, Chinese translator Zhu Shenghao's translation manuscripts collected in Jiaxing Library will be exhibited. Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare are famous masters in eastern and western theatre history, whose works will be displayed in this exhibition together, i.e. The Peony Pavilion, chromatograph edition engraved by Mao Ying in Ming Dynasty, and the second quarto of Romeo and Juliet, published in 1599 and collected by King George III.

In the exhibition hall, there is a shelf for readers' free reading, which mainly exhibits classic Chinese translations of on-display British writers' works, including new edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press and Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, which is revised and translated from the first volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare fans can appreciate 7 suits of opera costumes of Hamlet provided by Beijing People's Art Theatre in the exhibition hall. An opera stage is built for broadcasting British writers' dubbed films, and the periphery of the small theatre is a group of vivid portraits of British writers drawn by the NLC workers. There is an interactive platform in the central part of the exhibition hall. The audience can enter into the NLC databases and read E-books through, and log in the BL's website through scanning the QR code.

The exhibition will be pre-exhibited from 18 April to 20 April. In addition, the NLC also designs a series of activities related to this exhibition. In the afternoon of 20 April, the National Library Course will hold a special activity named "Sino-British Literature Dialogue of Surpassing Time and Space", inviting directors of the NLC and the BL to receive interview. Wang Ning, professor of Tsinghua University, will give a lecture about intertranslation and influence of Chinese and British literature works, and excerpts of The Tempest and Peony Pavilion will be on show. It is worth mentioning that a tenor of Central Conservatory of Music (CCOM) will sing Han Dynasty Emperor Liu Che's Ode to the Autumn Wind, accompanied by the CCOM teachers and students with classic guitar. It is translated by British sinologist Arthur Waley, and composed by British composer Britten. Guqin performing artist of Chinese National Academy of Arts will perform Ode to the Autumn Wind by using Guqin. A perfect convergence of Chinese and British literature and art is achieved through Ode to the Autumn Wind. In the morning of 21 April, the opening ceremony of this exhibition will be held in the NMCB. After the opening ceremony, the leaders and operation experts of both libraries will hold operation exchange activity of the NLC and the BL. In the afternoon of 21 April, a salon with "British Literature in China" as the theme will be held, which will invite experts on British literature of China and Britain, and readers to attend, establish a platform for the audience communication, and enrich the experiences of visiting exhibition.

On 21 April, the No.2 Exhibition Hall of the NMCB will hold the Exhibition of "From The Book of Songs to A Dream of Red Mansions: the classics we have read in those years". This exhibition will display more than 70 ancient books in historical order, which consists of 8 parts, i.e. Pre-Qin Period, Qin and Han Dynasties, Wei-Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Sui, Tang and Five dynasties, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. The introduction to celebrities and works in different periods presents the development course of Chinese literature, and displays the essence of Chinese ancient literature. Besides, there is a section of "Shi, Shu, Li, Yue" in the exhibition hall, which displays chime, costumes, typecase, Guqin and other exhibits, promoting the experiences of visiting exhibition. The audience can appreciate British classics as well as enjoy the glamour of Chinese classic literature.




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