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Wen Jiabao’s romanticism of geology

GU XIAOHUA | 2017-05-02
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Wen Jiabao’s Work Notes on Geology
Author: Wen Jiabao
Publisher: Geology Publishing House


As a geologist, former premier Wen Jiabao wrote a lot of work notes during his time in geology circles. This period came after he had worked in an arduous field environment and gained experience as leader of the provincial and national geological bureaus. In the book, Wen recorded his experiences and thoughts during his work, study and research life, and polished the work for another two years before its final publication in March, 2016.

The book is divided into four parts: field investigation notes, management work notes, research notes and study notes. To help the reader better understand the content and professional background of geological work, Wen specifically wrote an introduction for each part and some memoir articles for certain part of the notes.

The most dominant characteristic of the book is authenticity. Wen required us (the editors) to keep every word in the notes to ensure the originality of the book. He stressed that “authenticity is the life of the book” and said that “if there is a typo, then please use parentheses and if there is a need to explain, then use notes.”

In order to show the true appearance of the geological notes, we have collected a large number of copies of the notes in the book, 632 notes in total, accounting for one-third of the book. These copies are either used as texts or as illustrations in order to maximize authenticity. The author once said that only a book with real content could be favored by readers and benefit society.

The book offers abundant historical materials. General readers, especially the younger generation, are not likely to be familiar with the geological work conducted between the 1960s and 1980s. Even for many geologists, this period of history is also a dusty memory. The selected passages in the book span 18 years with rich variations. As the author notes: “I have put my own observations in the notes. Also the opinions of all kinds of people, ample knowledge of geological science, as well as the sparkles of thoughts.” These real accounts help the reader truly understand the geological development, the changes in the geological work system and the hardships of reform in the historical period, and understand every aspect of the work, study and research life of the geological workers in extremely tough conditions.

The book is very readable, adopting a stylistic structure of “memoirs plus notes.” The notes are mostly geologically professional articles, so Wen wrote another 12 million words on his recollections, including introductions for the four parts and 20 articles of memoirs. These added materials were all to aid in the interpretation of the content of the notes and related background information. These illustrations are like narration in a film, so that the professional geological information is more interesting and easily understood.

Wen has a natural and simple writing style. His longing for nature and his love of geological work as well as his ideal in the pursuit of truth can be discovered between the lines. In the meantime, in order to present the then working and living environment of the author, some pictures of the tools and instruments Wen once used are also included in the book.