Giang Lam

A love of literature and animals has inspired a collector’s  passion for old books

  Collectors prize old books, with first editions being the most valuable. Collector Vu Danh Tuan, a true bookworm, has put a great deal of effort into collecting world-famous books, especially those about animals. Through various auctions, he has acquired some extremely rare books, including first editions of “The Call of the Wild” published in 1903 and “Black Beauty” printed in 1894.

Vu Danh Tuan feels that Vietnamese children have missed out because Vietnam does not have many kids’ books about animals. World classics include works by Jack London like “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild”. Vietnamese animal stories include “The Adventures of the Cricket” by the late writer To Hoai and “Beasts of the Central Highlands” by Doan Gioi. Children’s books about animals are popular worldwide and help children to develop empathy for animals.

Vu Danh Tuan works as a tour guide. After work, he spends his free time translating classics from English to Vietnamese. He has translated touching tales about the dog Lad and the loyal dog Lassi. His Vietnamese versions of “LAD” and “Lassi Come Home” were eagerly embraced by parents and became bedtime favorites for local children. Mr. Tuan seeks to make the wild world of nature more familiar and inspire children to love animals.

The most special book in his collection is the story of “LAD”, first published in 1919, about a real Collie dog that risked its own life saving people from drowning and battling robbers and rattlesnakes. LAD was so famous that a museum was eventually set up in its honor and a handful of its fur is on display in another museum in Washington DC. An equally famous dog was Lassie. Its name was carved into the Hall of Fame alongside other Hollywood celebrities. The Hollywood film “Lassie Come Home” starred the dog as well as the violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor in 1943. These stories bring people closer to animals and give them insight into their feelings, habits and thoughts.

Having traveled to the homeland of LAD and laid a Vietnamese edition of the book on the dog’s tomb, Mr. Vu Danh Tuan touched his American friends. Thanks to his sincere love for literature and animals, he has bestowed a great gift upon young Vietnamese readers.