Letter: Not true about me - or my book

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The Independent Online
I HAVE only just seen the reference to me and to my translation of the Ancona manuscript, The City of Light, in your "Paperback Roundup" (Culture, 18 October) by Robert Hanks.

Even if what he had said about me had been true, I think it would have been childish to object, in the way he did, to my alleged intellectual affiliations. But as a matter of fact I have never been "associated with the Salisbury Review", never contributed to it, and never been a reader of it.

So how I can be "best known" for my "association" with it is beyond me. As for my being "right wing", that is also a silly (and outmoded) description. In any case, I would not think the worse of anyone who chose to be associated with the Salisbury Review - or with the Independent on Sunday, whether it is "on the right", or "on the left", or "in the centre" - merely on the grounds of that association alone.

As for The City of Light, the announcement of its forthcoming publication in Shanghai in a Chinese-language edition, and the acceptance of its truth by scholars in Quanzhou itself - the site of the old "Zaitun" which the Ancona manuscript describes as the "city of light" - have put most sceptics to flight.

It is likely, on balance, that the Chinese know more about their own medieval history, and are better placed to judge the authenticity or otherwise of accounts of it, than the small tribe of non-Chinese Sinologists in university departments in America and Britain.

DAVID SELBOURNE

Urbino, Italy

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