坐擁萬卷一書癡——林漢章

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1995 / 4月

文‧張瓊方 圖‧林盟山


台北新光華商場地下室有一家名叫「百城堂」的小書店,店裡擺滿歷盡風霜的線裝舊書,店主人林漢章總是不受人聲打擾,安靜地泡茶、看書。

無論別人笑他「阿達」、「瘋子」;或尊稱他是「地下教授」、「地下博士」,林漢章始終滿足地過著坐擁書城的日子,九年如一日……


舊書令人聯想到滿腹經綸的老人,但終日與舊書為伍的林漢章其實不老。今年四十三歲的他,外表沒有斯文的書卷氣,甚至有人曾形容他「看起來像土匪」。然而,粗獷的外表下,林漢章卻是個道道地地的「讀書人」。

大丈夫擁書萬卷

「大丈夫擁書萬卷,何假南面百城?」這是「百城堂」店名的由來,也是店主人林漢章的生活寫照。

有人出價一千八百萬新台幣要買林漢章一屋子的藏書與收藏,林漢章搖頭。他說:「書賣光了,沒有書讀,我活著做什麼?乾脆自殺算了!」

問林漢章究竟有多少藏書?得到的答案是:「不知道!」如果勉強要估算,「大概有幾萬本吧!」他輕描淡寫地說。

林漢章的書的確多得數不清,除了店裡擺售的書外,家裡捨不得賣的書更多。

初次踏進林漢章位於觀音山下的家,多數人會瞠目結舌。舉目所見,除了浴室外,滿滿卅六坪大的屋子裡全部塞滿書和收藏品。包括臥室和廚房,所有屋內牆壁都是書架,書架擺不下的書則往書桌上、櫃子裡、甚至地上堆。整間屋子彷彿書庫,除了一張床、一個衣櫥、幾張椅子外,沒有其他的家具。

三坪大小的書店與觀音山下取名「梵天閣」的家,是林漢章的兩個主要生活空間,在他的生活中除了書就是古董收藏。

黑手書生

愛讀書的林漢章由於自小家庭貧困,並沒有很高的學歷,五年制的新莊農校(職業學校)畢業後,念了一年免學費的陸軍官校專修班。他表示,服役的那四年是他「大量」讀書的開始。「一天看三、四本書是常事。」開始進入台灣史的領域正是那個時候。

退伍後,林漢章一直找不到合適的工作,卻在牯嶺街的書攤花光了兩萬五千元退伍金。不得已在表哥的介紹下到鐵工廠做黑手,自稱對工作變動性極低的林漢章一做就是十年。

白天辛苦做工,下了工就拚命看書。林漢章表示,看書非但不累,而且「越看越有精神」。做工十年賺得的上百萬元也全數用來買書。

有一次,林漢章一口氣買了一大箱的《國父全集》和《吳稚暉全集》。「郵差因為太重不肯送到家,要家人去搬,我爸爸氣得要命,認為我一定是瘋了才會一次買這麼多書」,林漢章笑著說。

「我自認付出勞力賺錢,沒什麼好羞恥,但別人不這麼想」,林漢章表示,工廠其他工人看不慣他的「與眾不同」、「悶不吭聲」,經常嘲諷他:「你有多厲害?還不是一樣在做工!」「行的話何必來做工?!」

賺錢兼做學問

林漢章不會逢迎、不懂爭取的個性,使老闆加薪時總是忘了他。「被別人害之後,反而要感謝那害你的人」,林漢章表示,待遇不公平加上同事的冷嘲熱諷,使他終於決定放棄做工另謀生計。

林漢章別的沒有,就是書多。九年前,他在新光華商場的地下室租了一個小店面,把家裡的書搬到店裡賣,就這樣開始做起買賣舊書的生意。

「百城堂」對林漢章而言,是賺錢的地方,也是做學問的地方。只要是做研究用得到的書,林漢章就往家裡搬,捨不得賣。難怪他朋友說:「林仔開一家書店,專門在買書,不賣書!」

只有高中學歷的林漢章,沒有師承,做學問全憑自己摸索。他什麼書都看,就連古書也難不倒他。他表示,遇到不懂的找資料再看,慢慢就能融會貫通了。他指出,大量閱讀與時間的累積是他做學問的不二法門。「看一本不懂,看十本懂一點,看一百本就完全懂了。」

「自己辛苦摸索得來的,會更珍惜」,他說:「當初如果我念了大學,今天的局面可能會很不同!」林漢章所謂的「不同」出人意表,「如果念大學會跟有些人一樣,用混的,就不會認真做研究了」,他說。

民俗學者郭立誠是林漢章唯一追隨過的老師。話說十年前林漢章大膽寫信「指正」郭立誠文章中的錯誤,郭立誠收信當天立即約林漢章見面,從此林漢章成為郭立誠的「入室學生」,定期到老師家學習做學問的方法。林漢章表示,雖然為期不過二、三個月,但是獲益良多。

人稱地下博士

除了對讀書「抓狂」地熱衷外,林漢章沒有其他任何興趣與休閒。他不看電視、不看電影、不裝電話、不喜歡東家長、西家短地與人閒聊,在村人的眼裡他是個「異類」。

長輩說他「讀書讀成書空了」,鄰居嘲諷地叫他「教授」,就連小孩子見到他都比著手勢叫他「阿達」(腦筋有問題)。

然而,村人口中的「阿達」,卻成了學術界的珍寶。

博覽群書的林漢章,有「兩腳書櫥」之稱。他對台灣史、民俗學等方面有廣泛的興趣,特別是「善書」方面的研究,幾乎無人能出其右。但林漢章的研究全憑興趣,不以發表為目的,因此見諸文字者尚不多。如在「台灣史研究暨史料發掘研討會」發表的「清代台灣的善書事業」、在《台灣史料研究》發表的「近二十年台灣史料聚散叢談」、「余清芳在西來庵事件中所使用的善書」……等。

許多碩士班的研究生透過教授或同學介紹到百城堂找林漢章,無論是提供資料或對論文寫作的看法,他都會全力幫忙,並提醒研究生注意許多細節問題。例如,台灣史在日據時代時應以日本紀年為主,若以民國或西元紀年,就看不出年代在這時期的作用。

林漢章梵天閣中的許多藏書是外面買不到、圖書館借不到的。一位麥姓研究生準備論文期間為了找資料方便,天天到林漢章家看書。如今已是輔大講師的麥小姐將筆名取為「墀章」,以紀念家住觀音山的林漢章。

隨著林漢章的文章陸續在各報章雜誌發表,受邀參加研討會、講學及媒體的報導……,這位「民間學者」漸漸被人們發掘。「有一次,台視來採訪我,採訪車停在我家門口,引來了一大堆村民圍觀」,林漢章笑說,如今他從觀音山的瘋子搖身變為「風雲人物」了。

靠知識賺錢

賣舊書在台灣是個「冷門」的行業,偌大的光華商場、新光華商場,只有五家店兼賣舊書。

台灣南部的古董販子和大陸的北京是林漢章主要的貨源。林漢章表示,過去只要有舊屋拆建,就會有古董、舊書流出來,而今台灣能拆的老房子都已拆光,南部已經沒有什麼貨;只有三天兩頭往大陸跑。

林漢章形容自己賣舊書賺的錢是「知識錢」,要看得多、懂得多,才知道什麼東西值錢、什麼東西好。

林漢章買書的原則是,買自己喜歡的。「我買我要的東西,能不能賣是其次」,他說,只要是自己喜歡的就不怕賣不掉,「賣不掉我反而很高興。」

憑藉著豐富的知識,林漢章較能掌握機會買到好書。以四年前在香港購買清末董康刻的一套《梅村家藏稿》為例,當時大家都以為這套書是鉛印本,沒價值。只有林漢章看出它是刻工非常好的木刻版。失之交臂的收藏家們只有大嘆弗如了。

一位書商隨手附贈給他的一本書,竟是元朝至正六年刻的《金剛經》,這本經書是以蘇東坡的手寫體刻的,圖文都非常精美。六、七年前,林漢章以五萬元的價格,把它割愛給一對天天登門求書的夫婦。

賣不賣沒關係

林漢章表示,台灣的氣候潮濕,保存不易;加上民眾不懂得舊書的珍貴,舊書多半「品相」不佳。「有時客人在店裡翻我的書,我看了很心疼」,林漢章表示,舊書相當脆弱,禁不起折、戳,或沾口水等傷害性的動作,偏偏許多人都有這種「不良嗜好」,沈默寡言的林漢章通常只能「看在眼裡,痛在心裡」。

內行人向林漢章買書,會獲得較便宜的折扣;外行人向他買書就得照定價買,如果要不懂裝懂或討價還價,他還會很有個性地來個相應不理。

東吳大學日文系講師城戶康成是百城堂的常客,他表示,有些外行的老闆賣舊書是論重量算價錢的,而林漢章是少數「專業性的老闆」。專收日據時代教育類舊書的城戶康成,有空就到店裡找書,仔細地從最下面找起,深怕遺漏了什麼。他笑稱是「自願來打掃的」。

對古版畫書興趣濃厚的袁芳榮每星期都要到百城堂報到。袁芳榮表示,百城堂的東西比較多,在其他的舊書店很少看到。「但是不太容易殺價」,他說。

藏書甚豐的知名作家、東吳歷史系特聘教師李敖也常光顧百城堂。李敖推崇林漢章是「超高水準的老闆」,「言談間可以感受他『掌風』的威力」,李敖覺得,林漢章對台灣史的瞭解甚至比中央研究院的學者高明。

「李敖買書時老是對我說:『你應該賣我很便宜啊,因為你喜歡我啊!』」林漢章坦承,英雄惜英雄:「的確賣他便宜!」

書中自有顏如玉

許多書林漢章捨不得賣。「賣給不懂的客人,實在很浪費!」捨不得賣卻捨得捐。好不容易收集完全的六十本台灣各地古蹟調查,林漢章捐給了吳三連台灣史料基金會。

一般人眼中「古怪」的老闆,在吳三連台灣史料基金會秘書陳美蓉口中卻是個「少見的大好人」。她指出,基金會裡比較好的書都是林漢章送的。

陳美蓉表示,林漢章對台灣史很「執著」,相對的對做台灣史研究的人都很幫忙。「他不但送書,還義務教我們修整線裝書、建議我們如何做檔案…」陳美蓉表示,有困難或問題去請教林漢章,都可以獲得解決。

把一切精神、心力投注在讀書、做研究上的林漢章,已逾不惑之年,仍是單身漢。「也曾經遇到過對象,但是又放掉了!」他說,「有一好,就沒兩好」,結婚生活有人照顧,日子可能比較好過;但做學問要心無旁騖、沒有干擾,單身比較適合。

但是這樣的選擇並不容易獲得家人的認同,林漢章「天天挨罵」,以前父親罵,二、三年前父親過世後換堂兄罵,但他從不在意,也不求別人了解,照樣過自己的日子。

放一把火燒了

將來滿屋子的藏書將何去何從?「放一把火燒了!」這句話雖是林漢章的玩笑話,卻也表露了一個愛書人「看破」的心情。

「我自己在做這一行,看得很清楚,書要傳第二代幾乎是不可能」,林漢章拿舊書比古蹟,外人說古蹟具有保存價值,居住其中的人卻想拆掉重建,舊書亦是如此。收藏的人視之如珍寶,從小看著它長大的可能棄之如敝屣。

不去想未來,也不急著立著發表研究成果,林漢章只是不斷收集有用的資料,按部就班地做研究。眼看舊書貨源越來越少,生意越來越難做,林漢章卻一點也不擔心。他表示,能做到什麼時候就做到什麼時候,生意做不下去了,就回鄉下去專心讀書做研究。

有人說:看舊書店就知道一個地方的文化水準。社會上多一個像林漢章這樣的愛書人,我們的文化傳承就多一分希望。

〔圖片說明〕

P.47

(右)百城堂是林漢章賺錢的地方,也是做學問的地方。

P.46

「書空」?「地下博士」?林漢章冷眼笑看他人的嘲諷與讚譽。

P.48

除了舊書,百城堂也兼賣一些字畫、古董。

P.49

佛像、傢具、版畫、海報、香菸畫片,甚至舊衣服……,林漢章收集一切老舊的東西。

P.49

「書中自有黃金屋,書中自有顏如玉。」林漢章的生活裡,除了書別無其他。

P.50

這部《貨布文字考》圖文、封套內外兼美,是林漢章極愛的藏書之一。

P.50

「常常整理,還是理不完!」亂中有序的梵天閣處處是寶藏。

P.52

捨不得賣卻捨得捐,林漢章將一些辛苦收集來的、有關台灣史的書籍捐給「吳三連台灣史料基金會」。

P.53

林漢章深知書難傳子的道理,雖然愛書,卻不會死守好書。

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近期文章

EN

Lin Han-chang--His Life is an Open Book

Chang Chiung-fang /photos courtesy of Lin Meng-san /tr. by Phil Newell

In the basement of the New Kuanghua Market in Taipei there is a little bookstore called "Pai Cheng Tang." The shop is full of hoary old volumes bound with string. Owner Lin Han-chang doesn't pay any attention to outsiders, he just sits there sipping tea and reading.

No matter if people ridicule him as an "idiot" or a "crazy man," Lin has always been satisfied to pass his days in the company of books, and the lest nine years have passed in a flash. . . .


One always thinks of learned elders when one thinks of old books. But Lin Han-chang, who spends his time in the company of long-ago volumes, is not at all dated. Now 43, Lin certainly doesn't look like a cultivated man of letters. Some even say he looks like a "highway robber." But behind the rough exterior there is a truly "bookish" man.

King of ten thousand volumes

"If a man has ten thousand books, why does he need to be the ruler of a hundred cities?" This quotation is the origin of the name of the book shop Pai Cheng Tang (whose name translates roughly as "The Palace of the Ruler of 100 Cities"), and it also summarizes the life of the shop's owner, Lin Han-chang.

Somebody once offered Lin NT$18 million for his entire collection, but he refused. He explains, "If I sell all my books, and have nothing to read, what will I do with my life? I might as well just kill myself."

Ask Lin how many books he has and he'll answer, "I don't know." Press him for an estimate, and he says, as if it were nothing impressive, "probably tens of thousands."

Lin really has more books than you can count. Besides the books in his shop, there are even more books at home that he can't bear to part with.

When people first enter Lin's home, at the foot of Kuanyin Mountain, they are dumbstruck. Everywhere you can see, except the bathroom, there are books. The whole 120 square meter apartment--including the bedroom and kitchen--is crammed full of books and curios. Every wall has a bookcase, and books that can't fit on the shelves are in book racks, cases, or just piled up on the floor. The place looks like a warehouse. Except for a bed, a wardrobe, and a few chairs, there is no other furniture.

Lin divides his time between the 12-squaremeter bookstore and his home, which is christened "Fan Tien Ko" (roughly the "Studio of Holy Books"). The only thing in his life besides books are antique curios. Other than these, he has neither the need nor the room for anything else.

Laboring man of letters

Having grown up in a poor household, Lin had little formal schooling. After graduating from a five-year agricultural school, he spent a tuition-free year in a special army officer training academy. He says that it was during his four years in the service that he began reading "in volume." "It was a common occurrence for me to read three or four books in one day." It was also then that he first entered the realm of Taiwan history.

After leaving the army, Lin could not find suitable work. He spent all of his NT$25,000 discharge payment at book stalls on Kuling Street, which used to be the main market for used books. He had little choice but to accept a job, arranged by his brother, as a factory worker. Lin, who says he has little interest in going from job to job, stayed there ten years.

After a hard day at work, Lin would read. He says that not only did reading not tire him, it "reinvigorated" him. He spent virtually all of the one million NT dollars he earned in that decade on books.

Once Lin purchased a huge crate of "The Complete Works of Dr. Sun Yat-sen" and "The Complete Works of Wu Chih-huei." "The postman wasn't willing to deliver it because it was so heavy. When I asked my family to help move it, my father was furious. He figured I had to be crazy to buy that many books at once," laughs Lin.

"I never felt there was any shame in working hard to earn money, but other people don't feel that way." Lin says that the other workers couldn't understand him being "different from the crowd" and "the silent type," and so they ridiculed him: "What makes you think you're so great? Aren't you a laborer just like us?" "If you are so capable, what are you doing here?"

Money and knowledge at the same time

Lin's personality is not grasping or sycophantic, and the boss usually forgot him when it came time for wage increases. "I was mistreated by others, but now I want to thank those who mistreated me," says Lin. Unwilling to put up with unfair treatment and the jibes of his coworkers, Lin finally decided to quit his job and make a new life.

Lin had nothing but his books. Nine years ago he rented a small space in the New Kuanghua Market, and moved some books from his home to the shop. That's how he began buying and selling old books.

For Lin, Pai Cheng Tang is a place to gain both income and learning. Lin takes home any book that might be useful to his research, unable to bear selling it. No wonder a friend says, "Lin's shop specializes in buying books, not selling them!"

Lin, with less than a high school education and no teacher to guide him, had to learn all about study and research on his own. He read anything he could get his hands on, not intimidated even by classical Chinese texts. He says that whenever he runs across something he doesn't understand he looks it up in other books until, gradually, he figures it out. He says that his research method is to read voraciously and spend lots of time. "If you read one book and don't understand, read ten and you will understand a bit, read a hundred and then you will understand completely."

"Things are more precious if you find them yourself through your own efforts," he avers. "If I had gone to university way back when, I'd probably be completely different now." What he means by "different" is not what you might expect: "If I went to university I'd be like so many other people, content just to muddle through my studies."

The only teacher Lin ever had was folk customs scholar Kuo Li-cheng. It is said that ten years ago Lin got up the nerve to write a letter "correcting" some errors in one of Kuo's articles. Upon receiving the letter Kuo immediately made an appointment to see Lin, and thereafter Lin became Kuo's student. He periodically went to Kuo's house to study scholarly methodology. Lin relates that although this only lasted two or three months, he learned a great deal.

The underground PhD

Besides being "crazy" about reading, Lin has no other hobbies or interests. He doesn't watch TV or movies, has no telephone, and doesn't care for gossiping with the neighbors. His neighbors long considered him "bizarre."

His elders used to say that "he's brain-dead from reading all those books," while his neighbors facetiously called him "Professor." When local children saw him they would point at their temples, make little circles with their index fingers, and say, "Idiot!"

But this "village idiot" is considered a precious resource by scholars.

His vast reading has caused others to dub him a "two-legged bookcase." He has an immense interest in Taiwan history and folk customs, and especially in shanshu works (essays which tried to teach moral values by pointing out the terrible consequences of an evil life). Almost no one can compare with him in the area of shanshu. But Lin does his research purely out of interest, not to publish, so that not much of his work has been made accessible to the reading public. Examples of his few published papers include "The Shanshu Business in Taiwan in the Ching Dynasty" (presented at the "Conference on Taiwan History and Historical Materials") and "A Discussion of the Collection and Dissemination of Historical Materials in Taiwan in the Past Twenty Years" (in the book Research on Materials for Taiwan History).

Many MA students come to Lin through the introduction of professors or classmates. Lin always makes a thorough effort to help, whether it be in finding materials or in critiquing the thesis. He also is able to advise students on many arcane issues. For example, histories of the Japanese occupation era in Taiwan should be written using the Japanese dating system (based on the reign year of the current emperor). If the Chinese or Western calendars are used, then you miss the whole function of dating methods in that era.

Many of the books in Lin's shop cannot be purchased elsewhere, nor found in libraries. A graduate student named Mai once went every day to Lin's home to read materials. Today Miss Mai, a lecturer at Fu Jen Catholic University, uses the pen name "Hsi Chang" (which means "commemorating Chang") to honor Lin Han-chang for the help she received from him.

After some of Lin's articles were published in newspapers and magazines, he was invited to attend conferences and give lectures. This "folk scholar" was gradually "discovered." "Once the Taiwan Television Network came to interview me. When the truck parked outside my house, it attracted all the people in the village to have a look," says Lin with a smile. Today he has gone from being the crazy man of Kuanyin Mountain to being a public figure.

Earning money through knowledge

Dealing in old books is not a very hot line of work in Taiwan. In all of the huge Kuanghua and New Kuanghua markets there are only five such book stalls.

The most important sources for Lin's books are old book vendors in southern Taiwan and in Beijing. Lin says that in the past you could find old books and curios whenever old residences were torn down. Today Taiwan has no more old houses to tear down, and there is little left in southern Taiwan. The only thing left to do is to take frequent trips to mainland China.

Lin says that the money he earns selling books is "knowledge money." You have to read a lot and understand a lot to know what things are worth.

Lin's principle for buying books is to buy what he likes himself "I buy what I like. Whether I can sell it or not is secondary." If it's something he likes then he doesn't worry about selling it: "Actually, I'm happier if I can't sell it."

Relying on his wealth of knowledge, Lin can seize opportunities others might miss. Four years ago there was an early Ming dynasty book for sale in Hong Kong. Most book sellers thought that it had been printed using lead blocks, making it relatively unimportant. Only Lin recognized that it was a particularly beautiful wood block print. The other book sellers could only sigh regretfully.

Once a bookseller threw in a free book for him, which turned out to be a copy of the Prajna Paramita Sutra printed in the sixth year of the Chih Cheng reign of the Yuan dynasty (1346). The book was printed using characters carved from patterns hand-done by the poet Su Tung-po, and the calligraphy and illustrations were both exceptionally beautiful. Six or seven years later, Lin reluctantly sold the book for NT$50,000 to a couple who kept coming to try and buy it every day.

It doesn't matter if they don't sell

Lin Han-cheng states that Taiwan's climate is humid, so it is hard to preserve books. Moreover, most people don't know the value of old books, and so few books are in good condition. "Sometimes when I see customers in my shop flipping through books my heart aches," he relates. These old books are fragile, and cannot stand being torn, bent, or thumbed through with fingers wet with saliva. Yet many people have these "evil inclinations." Lin, quiet by nature, can usually only "watch with my eyes and feel pain in my heart."

Lin gives other old-book lovers a discount, but outsiders have to pay the listed price. If people come in pretending to know something they don't and try to haggle, he will not pay them the least attention.

Kido Yasunari is a lecturer in the Department of Japanese at Soochow University and a frequent visitor to the shop. He says that book sellers who don't know the score just sell old books by weight, but Lin is one of the rare "experts." Kido Yasunari collects teaching materials from the Japanese occupation era, and goes to the store whenever he is free. He always starts at the bottom and goes up one book at a time, always afraid of missing out on something. He jokes that he "is volunteering to sweep up the floor."

Yuan Fang-jung, who is especially fascinated by old illustrated books, reports at Pai Cheng Tang every week. He says there are many things there that are very hard to find anywhere else. "But it's not so easy to talk the price down."

The famous author Li Ao, now a special lecturer in history at Soochow University, who has quite a collection of books himself, also frequents Pai Cheng Tang. Li praises Lin as a "super-high-level bookseller," and feels that "you can hear in his voice his command of the subject matter when he speaks off the cuff." Lin understands more about Taiwanese history than some of the scholars at the Academia Sinica.

"When Li Ao buys from me, he always says, 'You should sell to me cheap, because you like me so much!,'" says Lin. And, like one hero to another, "I really do sell to him cheap!"

Beauty through books

Lin cannot bear to sell many of his volumes. "It's a total waste to sell to customers who don't understand." But what he won't sell he may give away. He donated a 60-volume survey of historic sites and artifacts from all over Taiwan, a set he had painstakingly put together, to the Wu San-lien Foundation for Taiwan Historical Materials.

Lin may seem an "eccentric bibliophile" to most people, but to Foundation secretary Chen Mei-jung, he is a "person of very rare qualities." She says that the best books in the Foundation's collection were all donated by Lin Han-chang.

Chen says that Lin is very dedicated to Taiwan history, and is correspondingly helpful to those researching the subject. "He has not only donated books, he has volunteered to teach us how to repair the bindings, and suggested how we might compile files. . . ." Chen Mei-jung says that whenever they have a tough problem they go to Lin, and they always find an answer.

Having devoted his life to reading and research, Lin, now past 40, is still single. "I met someone once, but I let her go!" He says, "You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You have to choose." Perhaps life would be easier if he were married and there were someone to look after him. But scholarship takes undivided attention, so maybe being single is better after all.

Not that his relatives agree with Lin's choice. Lin "gets berated on a daily basis." Before his father used to nag him; after his father passed on two or three years ago, his older cousin started in. But he has never paid them much mind. He doesn't care whether others understand him, he just wants to live in his own way.

Put them to the torch

What will happen to his books in the future? "Put them to the torch!" This is Lin's idea of a joke, but it also reveals the understanding of a true man of learning that nothing, in the end, is all that important.

"I've seen very clearly in this business that its virtually impossible to pass one's books along to the next generation." Lin compares old books to old homes. Outsiders will say what great value the old house has, but those inside will want to lear it down and build a new one. That's the way old books are. The person who collects them sees them as precious, but the one who grows up surrounded by them might treat them like garbage.

Lin doesn't think about the future. He's also in no hurry to publish his research. Lin just keeps on collecting materials and doing research with what he finds, step by step. He sees that the sources of old books are drying up, and that it's getting harder and harder to sell them, but he isn't worried. Lin says that he will keep going as a bookseller as long as he can, and when it's no longer possible to do business he'll move back to the countryside to concentrate on reading and research.

Some say that you can tell the level of civilization of a place by checking out its old book shops. With a bibliophile like Lin Han-chang around, there is that much more hope for the carrying on of our culture.

[Picture Caption]

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"Bookworm"? "Underground PhD"? Lin Han-chang shrugs off others' taunts and praise.

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(right) Pai Cheng Tang is where Lin earns his living,and also where he does his research.

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As well as second-hand books, Pai Cheng Tang also sells art and curios.

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Buddha figures, furniture, prints, posters, cigarette cards, even old clothes--Lin Han-chang collects anything old.

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"Books hold riches in full store." For Lin Han-chang, they are his whole life.

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For Lin Han-chang, this edition of Inscriptions on Ancient Currency with its beautiful case and cover is one of the favorite books in his collection.

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"I'm always tidying up, but I never get to the end of it!" The ordered chaos of Fan Tien Ko conceals many treasures.

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Giving away books he couldn't bring himself to sell, Lin has donated some of his painstakingly amassed collection of books on Taiwan's history to the Wu San-lien Foundation for Taiwan Historical Materials.

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Lin is aware that his collection may not be valued by his heirs, so though he loves good books he does not cling to them.

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