The Tower of Reading


China Heritage marked the Mid-Autumn and National Day holiday season of 2023, officially dubbed ‘the dual festivities’ 雙節, with an essay from The Tower of Reading 唸樓 translated by Duncan Campbell.

We will continue to publish a series of similar notes in the lead up to the official launch of The Tower of Reading, a project devoted to the work of Zhong Shuhe (鍾叔河, 1931-), writer, editor, publisher and an old friend. The project focusses on Shuhe’s collection 念樓學短 — ‘Studying Short Works of Classical Chinese Prose in the Tower of Reading’.

Starting in 1989, Zhong Shuhe, whose literary name is 念樓 niàn lóu, ’The Tower of Reading’, has published over 500 columns in newspapers around China. Each featured an excerpt from texts that dated from as early as the Warring States era (fifth to third centuries BCE) up to the late-nineteen century. None of the excerpts exceeded 100 Chinese characters in length and the selections were followed by 念樓讀 niàn lóu dú: a translation of the text into modern Chinese; and, 念樓曰 niàn lóu yuē: a commentary by Zhong Shuhe written in the style of a ‘casual essay’ 小品文.

The result is a unique modern contribution to an age-old literary tradition. ‘The Tower of Reading’s Selected Shorts’ chimes with our advocacy of New Sinology and complements our work on The Other China.

For a conversation with Zhong Shuhe, see:


念/ 唸 niàn, to recite, read, study, in the hand of Cai Xiang (蔡襄, 1012-1067)