I read a book (in Chinese) by a German author. Its title reads '话说图书'(Talk about Books, or may be roughly translated as On Books) and its author is translated as '奈布罗'(nai-bu-luo). I wonder the original name of the author and the book, but have few clues for the copyright page contains no information about them. What I know is :

  1. The book deals with many anecdotes about books, for example it talked about how John Heartfield designed the cover of a book by Upton Sinclair and then was suited by an alcohol beverage. Every section begins with a quotation.
  2. It is mentioned in the book that the author was a reader of Berlin State Library since 1922 and lived in East Germany after WWII. The book seems to be written in late 1960s or early 1970s.
  3. The book seems to be an indirect translation through a Russian translation, for the translator seemed to specialize in Russian language.
  4. This is the beginning of the book:

作者的话 (Words from the author)

天哪,千万不要让我写一本谈图书的书。——利希滕贝格 (Gosh, never let me write a book on books. --Lichtenberg)

伏尔泰是很了解人的,他曾请求作者们尽量少谈他们自己,因为读者同作者一样怀有强烈的自尊心。一本书如果想要使人觉得有新意、有用处,或者至少是有趣味,那就应当让这本书自己来说话。 Voltaire knows human well. He onces requested writers to talk less about themselves, for readers, the same as writers, possess a strong sense of self-respect. If (you) want a book to be novel, to be useful to people, or at least to be interesting, (you) should let the book talk itself.

1 Answer 1


This is "Around the book" (Вокруг книги in Russian translation) by Heinz Knobloch:

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I did read it in Russian translation as a kid.

I've run the Lichtenberg's aphorism through Google Translate and searched for the German phrase it gave me back. It looks like this is what it sounds in original German:

Himmel laß mich nur kein Buch von Büchern schreiben

When I tried to run this through Google Books search, it gave me back this:

Himmel , laß mich nur kein Buch von Büchern schreiben . Lichtenberg Voltaire , der sich auskannte im Menschen , hat uns Büchermacher gewarnt , wir sollten in der Vorrede sowenig wie möglich von uns reden , weil die Eigenliebe des Lesers ...

which Google translates back to:

Christ, just don't make me write a book of books. Lichtenberg Voltaire, who knew his way around people, warned us bookmakers that we should talk as little as possible about ourselves in the preface because the reader's self-love…

The book it found the quote in is Rund um das Buch, Heinz Knobloch, Verlag für die Frau, 1973

  • 1
    "Rund um das Buch" seems to be the original title. (This can be found on Google Books, but there's no previews.)
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 16:34
  • 1
    I have found two different types of editions of Knobloch's Rund um das Buch: one that has 159 pages (with illustrations and sometimes with Sibylles Lesezeichen added to the title) and one in two volumes of over 400 pages. I would appreciate it if @Syzygy Yuan could add some more details about the book they read.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 22:22
  • I think the 159-page version is the one I read. What I read was a thin book. @Tsundoku Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 12:58
  • The 400-page version seems to be a minibook, so the content should be the same. I found the some subtitles in booklooker.de/B%C3%BCcher/Heinz-Knobloch+Rund-um-das-Buch/id/… agree with the Chinese translation, for example _Zeit für Bücher_(分点时间给图书), _Niemals durchsichtigen Klebestreifen_(修补小常识, it is not a direct translation but the quote following the title agrees), _Zensur und Scheiterhaufen_(书报检查和焚书). Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 14:00
  • @Randal'Thor When I clicked into this post and saw the Russian title on the picture, I believe the answer must be correct. Thanks @Quassnoi! Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 14:09

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