On April 23rd when World Book Day was celebrated, the renowned 82-year-old Taiwanese writer Zhang Xiaofeng visited Shanghai to unveil her latest book titled Over the Mountain Grass Where Musk Deer Left the Fragrance.
It was anticipated that the Christian writer would promote her new book. However, Zhang Xiaofeng surprised everyone by focusing solely on a single word, "Fragrance," which is featured in the book's title, without mentioning any other details about the new publication.
The theme she shared was titled "Why not January 8?"
World Book Day has been commemorated for 28 years and is observed on April 23rd. This date was chosen to honor the anniversaries of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, as well as the birthday of the American writer Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov. Notably, it is also the date of both Shakespeare's birth and death.
Zhang, the writer, desires to modify World Book Day due to her deep admiration for the work of Su Dongpo, a highly esteemed writer of the Northern Song Dynasty in China. Su was born on January 8, 1037. He was a prominent figure in poetry, prose, calligraphy, and painting, and his poems are cherished by subsequent generations. Apart from his talent, his open-mindedness has garnered him widespread respect, with Chinese people around the world regarding him as their teacher. Zhang even urges Chinese people worldwide to plan ahead for the celebration of Su Dongpo's millennium birth by 2037.
Additionally, she shares intriguing anecdotes about Chinese people and books, emphasizing the allure of Chinese literature that captivates many foreigners who choose to learn it. Zhang takes pride in the Chinese language and considers herself fortunate to be able to express herself and write in it.
During her youth from the ages of 12 to 17, Zhang resided in the southern part of Taiwan Province, where she encountered rice fields on her way to school. According to her, "Regardless of whether the rice is in bloom, ripe, or exposed to the sun, it exudes a captivating and simple fragrance. It resembles the aroma of food and even the scent of the human body." She suggests that people can create perfumes infused with the essence of rice and millet.
In Zhang Xiaofeng's perspective, fragrance holds a religious significance. It symbolizes eternity in both Buddhism and Christianity. In fact, Zhang has been a devoted Christian her entire life, having been acquainted with the gospel since the age of nine. At 12 years old, she chose to attend a Baptist church, where she received baptism.
"Over the mountain grass where musk deer tread, a lingering fragrance remains. Whenever musk deer pass by, the fragrance lingers, permeating the spring mountain with its essence. There leaves a lasting impact on the world, akin to the enduring fragrance left behind by the musk deer. The good things we do in the world will stay and will influence others," she added.
- Translated by Charlie Li