Hong Kong Book Fair

Book lover all aquiver over Cupid in the nude

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2007, 12:00am

Reader complains over a cover at fair

A 200-year-old nude image of Greek mythology's sprite of love and his wife has been cleared to go on show at the Book Fair after surviving a challenge from an offended visitor.

The French artist Francois Gerard's 1798 painting of Cupid and Psyche was used to adorn the cover of a book of romantic and mythological stories that went on sale at the Hong Kong Book Fair when it opened at the Convention and Exhibtion Centre yesterday.

It had been reviewed by the Telecommunications and Entertainment Licensing Authority (Tela), which passed it for sale.

A visitor to the fair yesterday morning disagreed and complained to the organisers, who sent it back to the authority. But Tela allowed the Chinese-language volume to remain on display for general viewing and purchase.

The fair's organiser, the Trade and Development Council, said Tela had reviewed the book on Tuesday night and expressed the view that it was 'quite marginal' between Class 1 and 2. 'But we thought it was OK to be sold at the fair,' a spokesman said, adding that it was, after all, just a picture of a work of art.

'Tela reviewed the book again and confirmed the book falls under Class 1, [adding] a note saying it's rather marginal,' the spokesman said. 'The book continues to be sold at the fair; there are no problems with it.'

The book, produced by Taiwan-based publisher Yuan-Liou (HK) Publishing, is a Chinese translation of the Korean work Lee Eyun Kee's Greek and Roman Myths.

Alexander Chan Kwok-wah, a spokesman for Yuan-Liou, said the situation was 'quite strange, because we're pretty strict on approving our books before we publish them. We don't think they are indecent'.

Attendance at the fair was well ahead of last year's level. In the first two hours, there were 12,000 visitors, up 30 per cent, and 42,000 by 1pm, an increase of 50 per cent.

Form Two student Lee Lok-him, who queued from 7am, said he planned to buy his favourite adventure fiction. 'There are about 13 hours today, and I will stay to read until [the fair] closes,' he said.

Tony Ng, a fan of Canto-pop singer Teresa Fu, arrived at 2am to grab the best spot in the queue to buy his idol's new book. 'I wanted to get her new book and a ticket to meet her on Sunday; my goal is to get her autograph.' he said.

TDC assistant executive director Raymond Yip Chak-yan said a new system of early-bird tickets for those arriving before 1pm had made the operation run more smoothly.

'From our preliminary analysis these arrangements are effective and it works to ensure that visitors enter the exhibition orderly and in a comfortable manner,' he said.

A new arrangement enabling purchase of tickets with Octopus cards had also helped.

But Hilda Li, a visitor to the fair from Toronto, criticised this year's arrangements. 'We were directed to go to Hall 5 once we've entered the fair, and we had to walk a very long way back to the Grand Hall.'

The TDC spokesman said they had set up 9,000 square metres of space for crowd control, and had arranged for visitors to line up indoors to ensure they queued in a comfortable manner.