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Spring 2024


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Michael Nylan at Aeon Bookstore

Aeon Bookstore 151 East Broadway New York, NY


Oct 21 / 2pm

Join us at Aeon Bookstore (newly opened on the Lower East Side!), for an afternoon with Michael Nylan, as she discusses The Chinese Pleasure Book, in conversation with John Vollmer.


This book takes up one of the most important themes in Chinese thought: the relation of pleasurable activities to bodily health and the health of the body politic. All early writings on the subject contrast pleasure not with pain but with insecurity, in an important contrast with Western writings devoted to the same subject. All assume that it is right and proper to seek and take pleasure, as well as short-term delight, but equally that certain long-term relational pleasures are more easily sustained, as well as potentially more satisfying and less damaging. The pleasures that become deeper and more ingrained as the person invests time and effort to their cultivation include friendship and music, sharing with others, developing integrity and greater clarity, reading and classical learning, and going home. Each of these fields of activity is explored through the early sources (mainly fourth century BC to the eleventh century AD), with new translations provided for both well-known and seldom-cited texts.

MICHAEL NYLAN is a professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley. Her recent publications include Chang'an 26 BCE: An Augustan Age in China, Exemplary Figures (a complete translation of Yang Xiong’s Fayan), and Yang Xiong and the Pleasures of Reading and Classical Learning in China.

Co-sponsored by China Institute