In an Ask MetaFilter thread, katemonkey links to an image of a booklet she found called The Famous Words Of The Nationa [sic] Famous Person, with crude pictures of twelve National Famous Persons and legends in Chinese (presumably identifying and quoting them). A couple of them are obvious (Twain, Shakespeare), but if anyone’s Chinese is good enough to identify them all, I will post the information on the thread and there will be much rejoicing.


  1. Only guessing (I speak no Chinese, and anyway, I doubt anyone could even distinguish those characters): the first and third ones in the first photo look like Moses and Einstein, respectively. In the second photo, I’m pretty much sure the second one is a French author (Balzac? Zola? Flaubert?). The fourth one looks like Confucius, and the fifth one might be Cervantes.

  2. I could read them all if the characters were a bit larger and clearer.
    The one on the far right looks like Meryl Streep, and I think her quote is: “You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.”

  3. xiaolongnu says

    Ditto — the scan is too blurry to make out the characters. The one which is scanned larger at the bottom is Tolstoy, though (Ch. Tuoersitai). Can we contact the owner of that site and ask her to rescan the bookmarks at a higher resolution and out of their plastic sleeves?

  4. Thanks — I posted your answer on the MeFi thread. No better scan will be forthcoming, though; katemonkey says:
    And I don’t have bigger pictures of the images, I’m afraid. I scanned these in while I was working, and now…I’m not. Plus, they’re currently in a box somewhere, and I’m not sure where they are.

  5. I can’t make out the characters on the bookmarks
    very well either, but the title is very clear.
    It says “words of WORLD famous people” (emphasis mine), not “national”.

  6. The 3rd one on the top row/2nd on bottom row looks like Edgar Allen Poe. The fourth one on the top row is clearly Michael Jackson.

  7. Don’t know any Chinese, but I’m willing to bet the one on the far right on the top row with the open collar is Percy Bysshe Shelley. The third one from the left on the bottom row might be Chekhov. To his right is the British children’s television character Catweazle.

  8. You can check out portraits of your candidates at Google Images here. I now think my guess about Chekhov is correct and the “French novelist” on the top row is almost certainly Emile Zola.

  9. Second one on bottom row, Turgenev?

  10. Sorry, it’s probably Balzac (I mistook his cravat for a beard).

  11. Well done CB (hope people aren’t mistaking us for each other around these parts).
    Here are the fruits of my timewasting session.
    2 [oddly familiar]
    1 [no clue]
    4 [no clue]
    5 [I?ll crack this one soon]
    8 [I know I know this]

  12. OK, I’ll change my moniker from CB to Xblogger to avoid confusion. Since I’ve got some time to waste, I’ll have a few more stabs at the answers. I still think number 2 bottom row is Balzac (after he’s been on the Atkins diet) rather than Poe. Vaguer guesses: number 1, bottom row, Wordsworth? Number 5, Francis Bacon (the author of Advancement of Learning, not the painter)? I now suspect last one on the bottom row is not a woman but a man wearing a wig, maybe a peruke. So – very unsure guess- Alexander Pope?

  13. This is interesting detective work.
    I have no further identifications at the moment. But, here are my clues:
    #2 above seems French, German or Russian, a doctor or a writer.
    #4 below might be a Chinese sage. Confucius or Lao Tzu?
    #5 below is, by the costume, late 16th c. or early 17th c. A humanist or an explorer.
    #8 is driving me crazy. It’s not Keats, not Liszt, not Chopin, not Goethe. But he’s a 19th century writer or composer, and a Romantic.

  14. Number 2 above is definitely Zola. Evidence here.

  15. Aha!
    #1 below is Goethe. For sure. 🙂

  16. #8 Isaac Newton? I think it’s definitely some sort of wig, look at the centre parting there.

  17. Evidence for Goethe
    inkpot.com/classical/ beethoven.html (scroll down).
    Your “evidence” for Zola is very far from being definite. I would only be convinced by a match on the outfit, the style of the beard and its color. As it is, all you got is a guy with beard and glasses.
    Lemme think about the Newton. (I too had suspected Newton, but I couldn’t find any image of Newton that young. And is that a wig, and not yellow hair?).

  18. Youse guys are amazing. I just hope no one ever mistakes my beard for a cravat.

  19. #4 below is really bugging me. Maybe in an attempt to be more “internationa” it’s a rather Westernised Rabindranath Tagore. Evidence here (scroll down, alongside Einstein).

  20. Your Tagore is definitely believable. An excellent find, the face really matches, as does the beard. One wonders what the criterion were for selection for the series. Probably whatever images they were able to find in some disused encyclopedia.
    I still think #8 below is something painfully obvious that we’re not seeing.

  21. “criteria”

  22. Maybe the secret of their criteria would be revealed if we knew what quotations they’ve chosen. The absence of Dickens is puzzling as he’s almost obligatory for this kind of thing. No Dante either.

  23. There is a reason why both Chinese people and Chinese scholars all wear glasses…. reading Chinese is not good for your eyes!

  24. Kerim, last time I had glasses fitted I took a page from my “Ci Yuan” in to show them what I was dealing with. I tried to design trifocals with a magnifying glass on the bottom, but it was too inconvenient, so I’m going to just buy a magnifying glass.
    In Taiwan women seemed to think that glasses were sexy. They also seemed afraid of macho guys, even if they were Chinese macho guys. Two points for China in the Battle of Civilizations.

  25. I.2 looks like Freud to me.

    II.7’s moustache screams “de Maupassant” to me, but I’m not sure he was blonde.

    II.5 could be Walter Raleigh, but so could anyone with a ruff and that hair/beard arrangement.

  26. #8 Voltaire?

  27. Truly a seductive time-waster.
    #2 looks more like Louis Pasteur than Zola to me. As for the others:
    First row:
    1. Missed that one fer shur.
    3. Yeah, Einstein.
    4. I’m also going with Shelley.
    Second row:
    5. At first I thought Mozart, but the collar’s wrong.
    6. Poe.
    7. Frankenstein, but the neck bolts are missing.
    8. Huh?
    9. Francis Bacon, but all those guys in ruffs looks alike.
    10. Shakespeare.
    11. No clue. Mark Twain with a never before seen haircut?
    12. I thought “Romantic Poet” or Isaac Newton, but can’t find any images to persuade.
    Still obsessing.

  28. Upon further obsessing:
    1 Tolstoy
    2 Zola
    3 Twain
    4 Shelley
    bottom row
    1 Byron
    2 Balzac
    3 Chekhov
    4 Tagore
    5 Bacon
    6 Shakespear
    7 de Maupassant
    8 Voltaire
    Someone better dig into that box and solve this before we all go mad!

  29. Revised guesses:
    #11 (or row 2 #7) is supposed to be Nietzsche.
    I think Xblogger is correct that row 2, #2 is Balzac, just back from the fat farm. (Not Poe.)
    Row 1, #3 isn’t Einstein.
    OK, enough goofin’ off for now.

  30. I’m really leaning toward Freud for I.2 and Stalin for II.7. I’m not convinced about the Einstein at all. E is almost always depicted with white hair, and if the can do the so-called Tolstoy and that other guy with white hair, I’m pretty sure they’d do E.
    I’m also not convinced of the total male domination. Both of the effeminate ones (I.4, II.8) are wearing pink. I do not think that’s a coincidence. (although, Michael Jackson — whoa! Maybe this is his model.)
    Perhaps someone would like to call the phone number and ask.

  31. #1 on the bottom is William Blake.

  32. 1: Tolstoy – Freud – Einstein – Shelley
    2: Blake – Twain – Chekhov – Tagore – Bacon (first thought was Drake, though) – de Maupassant (definitely) – Newton
    I’m thinking the characters in the lower leftcorner are nationality.

  33. I appear to concur with others; I’m sure #2 is Freud, and 5 Below is Bacon.

  34. Fontaine Fox says

    Do I note an English-language bias among the respondents here? My votes: First row: Tolstoy, Zola, ? (looks like Einstein but all the others are literary; just possibly Mark Twain but I’m not totally convinced; could he be one of those early Nobel winners from Scandinavia you’ve never heard of?), Shelley. Second row: Goethe, Balzac, Chekhov, Tagore, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Gorky–and then the killer. I know I’ve seen this image on a book jacket. Some 18th C. rebel–no wig, no cravat–but which? It isn’t Voltaire. But I’ve stayed up far too late pawing through my books and peering at the little pictures in the Petit Larousse…

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