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Man of letters finds words of inspiration

By Ma Zhenhuan | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-19 08:33
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De Laurentis(right) at the Longmen Grottoes during a trip to Luoyang in Henan province in 2006.[Photo provided to China Daily]

For Pietro de Laurentis, an Italian Sinologist who has been dedicated to Chinese studies for two decades, what fascinated him most about Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, was not the scenic West Lake or the delicious cuisine, but rather, Chinese calligraphy.

Anyone who has studied Mandarin knows that Chinese characters play a dominant role in the language. Chinese characters have their own meaning and history.

"Hangzhou is unique, because it gave me enlightenment on Chinese calligraphy," says de Laurentis.

De Laurentis is a researcher with years of experience in studying modern Chinese, ancient Chinese and Chinese calligraphy in China. His first visit to the country was back in 1998 and since then, he says, he has visited the country numerous times.

Majoring in Chinese, de Laurentis' interest in Chinese calligraphy sprouted at an Italian university in 1999, which helped him make some Chinese friends from Shanghai residing in Italy, including a calligraphy teacher.

In an article of recollection, de Laurentis points out that he believed that culture is not just knowledge he learned in textbooks. "When I was studying Chinese at the university, I found there's an oasis of culture ahead of me," he writes.

"The Chinese culture in textbooks is charming, but I am more interested in Chinese people," he notes, adding that Chinese characters and calligraphy are what he uses to communicate with people from China.

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