Another lost kingdom

Loulan or Kroran is an ancient oasis town already known in the second century BCE on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert. Loulan, known to Russian archaeologists as Krorayina, was an ancient kingdom along the Silk Road. In 77 BCE, according to the History of the Former Han Dynasty, the Chinese envoy Fu Jiezi stabbed Loulan’s king, Chang Gui, to death. The kingdom then became a Chinese puppet state and was given the Chinese name of Shanshan, though the town at the northwestern corner of the brackish desert lake Lop Nur retained the name of Loulan. The ruins of the town of Loulan are on what were the western banks of Lop Nur, now dessicated, in the Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang. The site is now completely submerged in the desert.

»“Loulan Kingdom.” Wikipedia.


Sturrock on Queneau

[Queneau] was a great reader and a great maker of lists, given from childhood on to the pleasures of tabulation. In January 1945, a month like any other, he records having read thirty-three books in thirty-one days, on literature, history, art, mathematics, physics, travel, plants and other subjects besides. There was more to this gluttonous programme, however, than the replenishment of an unusually encyclopaedic mind, for in the objectivity that reading demanded he looked to find relief from the anxious self-concern that otherwise afflicted him. There was, as he recognized, a strong, and uncomfortable, element of willed mental distraction in this piling up of impersonal knowledge.

»John Sturrock on Raymond Queneau in The Word From Paris : Essays on Modern French Thinkers and Writers. London: Verso, 1998.