This will be short, but hopefully useful. There’s a bookstore on 羅斯福路 just north of 和平, right down the road from Shi-Da and right up the road from Tai-Da, called 萬卷樓圖書. If you’re on 羅斯福 you go north from 和平 until you pass McDonald’s. Just past McD’s there is a building with a security guard in the front lobby and and elevator. The bookstore is on the sixth floor, along with what looked like two English school offices.

This bookstore is awesome. If you need any sort of book on Chinese history or literature, especially reference works, this is your place. I’m not sure, but I suspect they specialize in Mainland books.

Anyway, today I picked up a bunch of 文言文 stuff. I got 古漢語常用字字典(第4版):繁體字本 by 王力, along with all four volumes of his 古代漢語 series. The former is an excellent and widely-recommended dictionary intended for learners of 文言文. It’s concise, clear, organized by pinyin, and small enough to easily go with you in your backpack. It isn’t as comprehensive as his 古漢語字典, but it’s still excellent. And if you’re taking 古漢語字典 in your backpack, you have other problems. Basically, it’s a good first stop, and if you can’t find what you need, you can look it up in a bigger dictionary when you get home.

The latter (古代漢語) is, from what I gather, widely seen as THE textbook from which to learn 文言文 if you’re really serious about it. I believe it’s a pretty standard book for 國文學 students on the Mainland, and I know it’s used at ICLP (and, in theory, at MTC too). Though I can get through the explanations and, from what I’ve seen, have little to no trouble with most anything in the book written in modern Chinese (which was a BIG deal for me when I realized that), the texts covered in the book are a bit much for me right now. Not to mention it looks like the textbook is pretty dense. I’ll start using it in a few months when I feel up to the task (not quite yet).

Altogether it cost me NT$560, or about US$19. Not bad! I’ll be busy for a good while with this stuff. They have tons of books on things like 文字學, 古文字學, 音韻學, etc. They have books on really narrow, specific things like the grammar of excavated 楚國 texts. Big reference works on 甲骨文, 金文, etc. And this is just the stuff I was specifically looking for. Lots of stuff on later imperial history, tons of dictionaries, all kinds of stuff. Even the full set (8 volumes) of 漢語大字典 for NT$2000.

If your interests lean historical in any way (especially pre-Republican), it’s worth checking this store out. I’m told there’s a similar bookstore, but 3-4 times the size, near Tai-Da. I’ll check it out at some point and report back.

On a side note, realizing I could read the 古代漢語 book with few problems (not the actual 文言文 texts, mind you!) made me want to pick up Harry Potter again to see how it is. I’ll admit, it’s been a while. Well, it was MUCH easier going this time around. I read a page and a half and maybe looked up 10 words. So I think I’ve renewed my interest in reading this book in earnest. I’ll read this, and then maybe move on to some 武俠, maybe something by 金庸. We’ll see!