Politics and poetry

Two poems by Yi Sha from May 2016. One on poetry, one on history. Generations, family. Chinese originals are here. Below at the end is a poem I wrote last month. Rather flippant. Yi Sha is better. I have better poems too.

Martin Winter <dujuan99@gmail.com>

Yi Sha

you don’t know it exists
it’s there

you forget about it
it’s there

you use it
it’s there

you betray it
it’s there

it exists apart
from you

May 2016
Translated by MW, Feb. 2018 Continue reading

Xu Zhimo as world poet

List members who welcomed last year’s two items about Xu Zhimo as a world poet (November 18 & 19, 2017) will be pleased to hear about the anthology Into English, edited by Martha Collins and Kevin Prufer (Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, 2017), which includes Xu Zhimo as one of twenty-five world poets whose work in translation is featured. Contributors were asked to select a poem that has been translated into English at least three times and to comment on these translations. I chose Xu Zhimo and his “Zai bie Kangqiao” [A Second Farewell to Cambridge], probably the best known poem in modern Chinese, and compared translations by Kai-yu Hsu, Michelle Yeh and Hugh Grigg. I’ve never translated any of Xu Zhimo’s poems for publication but have enjoyed reading and teaching them for many years. This anthology is a tribute to the lasting value of poets and poetry around the world and an acknowledgement of the deep pleasure to be gained by translating and reading translations of their works.

Bonnie S. McDougall FAHA
Honorary Associate, School of Languages and Cultures,
University of Sydney A18;
Professor Emeritus of Chinese, The University of Edinburgh

Elegy of a River Shaman review

Source: Writing China (1/26/18)
The Last Human Tiger: Review of Fang Qi’s Elegy of a River Shaman
By Astrid Møller-Olsen


In a fantastic blend of folk song, ecocriticism and historical fiction, the novel Elegy of a River Shaman chronicles four generations of the Tribe of the Tiger and their Tima (shaman) in the Three Gorges (san xia 三峡) region along the Yangzi River. It opens with the clan patriarch Li Diezhu’s decision to build a pioneer settlement in the fertile Lihaku ridge and moves on to relate how macro-historical events, such as the Japanese invasion of 1937 and the civil war between communists and nationalists, affected the lives and traditions of this local community.

After trailing the fates and misfortunes of the dwindling tribe, the novel ends on a hopeful note, with Diezhu’s ageing widow assuring their great-grandson of the continued survival of his people and their totem animal: “when a tiger turns five hundred years old, its fur turn white. They can live a thousand years” (467). Continue reading

JMLC ‘Chinese Poetry and Translation’

JMLC releases its 14.2–15.1 special issue “Chinese Poetry and Translation: Moving the Goalposts”

Guest-edited by Maghiel van Crevel, this special issue of the Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC) comes out of a June 2017 workshop at Lingnan University. Rather than from real and imagined problems of (Chinese)-poetry-and-translation, the authors of this issue work from its potential: for rocking the boat rather than providing safe passage, for moving the goalposts and getting away with it, for empowering the translator to choose, time and again, which rule s/he wants to break, and unleashing whatever it is that happens next. While translation—interlingual and otherwise—is a central feature of the study of Chinese literature as practiced in an international community, it nevertheless doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, and we are happy to help address this. The papes conjoin theoretical contributions with in-depth reflection generated from inside processes and results of translation and its infrastructure. The abstracts can be viewed at http://commons.ln.edu.hk/jmlc/.

Table of Contents: Continue reading

Chinese Literature Today 6.2

Dear MCLC List members,

I am pleased to announce that Chinese Literature Today 6.2 (2017) is now available on the Routledge website (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/uclt20/6/2?nav=tocList). Below is the TOC of CLT 6.2 (2017).

Ping Zhu <zpdarr@gmail.com>


6 Introduction, by Dai Jinhua
8 Writing as a Way of Life: Nomination of Wang Anyi for the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, by Dai Jinhua
10 “Coming to Oklahoma”: In Acceptance of the 2017 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, by Wang Anyi
12 Wang Anyi: The Storyteller as Thinker, by Wang Ban
14 Seven Short Conversations with Wang Anyi, Dai Jinhua, and Wang Ban, by Ping Zhu
22 The Emergence of a Writer, the Evolution of a Literary Scene: In Conversation with Wang Anyi, by Michael Berry
29 The White Horse in the Longtang, by Wang Anyi
35 Mothers and Daughters: Orphanage as Method, by Carlos Rojas
43 From Nostalgia to Reflection: An Exploration of The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi, by Elena Martin-Enebral
52 Wang Anyi, Taiwan, and the World: The 1983 International Writing Program and Biblical Allusions in Utopian Verses, by Po-hsi Chen Continue reading

Best books in Chinese 2017

Dave Haysom has just compiled this brilliant list on Paper Republic.

2017: Best Books in Chinese

Which works of sci fi were worth reading this year? Whose fiction has forged a new way of representing dialect in literature? Why are Chinese authors reading the critic James Wood? And what was life like for Communist guerrillas in the jungles of 1980s Malaysia? Find out in our list of the best books published in Chinese in 2017, as chosen by Paper Republic and friends! https://paper-republic.org/davehaysom/2017-best-books-in-chinese/

Nicky Harman

Meng Lang’s poetry in Italian

Dear MCLCers,

On behalf of Meng Lang, I would like to announce that his collection of poetry about Tiananmen is now available in Italian.

SULL’EDUCAZIONE, Un diario poetico su Tian’anmen 1989 is translated by Claudia Pozzana of the University of Bologna and Alessandro Russo. This follows the publication of the bilingual edition, Views on Education: Twenty-five Poems (教育詩篇 二十五首), which was translated by Denis Mair. More information on Sull’educazione is available from the publisher, Damocle Edizioni:

The book is available on Amazon:

Anne Henochowicz
Commission Editor, China Channel

Poetry and translation in times of censorship

Source: Critical Inquiry Blog (12/13/17)
Poetry and Translation in Times of Censorship; or, What Cambridge University Press and the Chinese Government Have in Common
By Jacob Edmond

What is lost in translation? It’s a perennial concern for someone like me, but it took on a new twist when I was recently asked to approve a Chinese translation of a review of Maghiel van Crevel’s book Chinese Poetry in Times of Mind, Mayhem and Money (2008). My review of the original English version appeared in The China Quarterly back in 2011, but I gave permission for it to be translated and published in China following the release of the Chinese translation of Van Crevel’s book, Jingshen yu jinqian shidai de Zhongguo shige 精神与金钱时代的中国诗歌 (2017). This Chinese version of my review will formally be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Modern Chinese Studies (现代中文学刊), but you can already read it here.

A translation of a review published as a review of the translation: the complexities only begin here. Readers of Chinese will already have noted the title change in the Chinese translation of Van Crevel’s book: “money” (金钱) and “mind” (精神) remain, but “mayhem” has disappeared. That omission also signals a larger one: the Chinese version lacks the chapter on “Exile,” which includes discussion of poems written by Bei Dao 北岛, Wang Jiaxin 王家新, and Yang Lian 杨炼 after the Chinese government’s violent 4 June 1989 suppression of dissent.

No one familiar with working and publishing in China will bat an eyelid at such changes. Yang Lian’s own collected poems were published in China with some works removed and the titles of others changed. “To A Nine-Year-Old Girl Who Died in the Massacre” (给一个大屠杀中死去的九岁女孩) became “To a Nine-Year-Old Girl Who Died Suddenly” (给一个猝死的九岁女孩). Journals and publishers that engage with China—The China Quarterly and its publisher, Cambridge University Press, among them—face a similar pressure to avoid sensitive topics in disseminating their work in the country. Continue reading

Legends of the Condor Heroes translation (1)

Some translations of Louis Cha’s/Jin Yong’s martial arts novels are available:

The Book and the Sword  (Oxford University Press, 2005), translated by Graham Earnshaw, edited by John Minford and Rachel May.

The Deer and the Cauldron (in three volumes; Oxford University Press, 1997), translated by John Minford.

Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain  (Chinese University Press, 1996), translated by Olivia Mok.

Seán Golden <sean.golden@uab.es>

Legends of the Condor Heroes translation

Source: Global Times (11/9/17)
UK publisher working on English edition of Jin Yong’s ‘Legends of the Condor Heroes’
By Huang Tingting

Promotional material for the 2017 TV series Legends of the Condor Heroes Photo: VCG

Six decades after the debut of Jin Yong’s popular Chinese martial arts novel Legends of the Condor Heroes, English speakers will finally have a chance to explore for themselves the exotic world of swords and sabers in ancient China that has fascinated Chinese readers for generations.

The English version of the novel is being divided into four books. Hero Born, the first volume translated by British-Swedish translator Anna Holmwood and priced at 14.99 pounds ($19.60), will be published by the UK’s Maclehose Press in February, 2018. Continue reading

Michigan postdoc

Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement
Department of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan

critical translation studies

The Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan announces a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Critical Translation Studies. The fellowship is funded by the College of Literature, Science and the Arts to provide a candidate with the opportunity to pursue independent scholarship related to translation, gain teaching experience, and engage with interdisciplinary translation initiatives across the university.

We welcome applications from scholars undertaking comparative research in histories, theories, and practices of translation, and engaging critically with current debates in the field. Projects may focus on any language or historical period, including analyses that work across different cultures and regions of the world. We encourage interdisciplinary projects in translation studies that develop innovative methods in dialogue with other fields, such as world literature; digital and visual cultures; film and media studies; postcolonial studies; critical race studies; gender studies; religious studies; philosophy; political theory; law; other core and emerging fields in the humanities (such as public humanities, medical humanities, environmental humanities). Continue reading

What Happens after Nora Walks Out

Source: China Channel, LARB (9/29/17)
What Happens after Nora Walks Out

An exclusive essay by Lu Xun to kick off our monthly story club

Editor’s note: For our opening week at the China Channel, it has been our pleasure to bring you a smorgasbord of delights to celebrate both Lu Xun’s birthday, and our own as a new channel for sinophiles and the sinocurious. Now to close our first week out, we’d like to introduce a new monthly feature: story club. Each month we will publish a Chinese story, fiction or nonfiction, in translation, and invite you, our readers, to write in with your thoughts. Our first offering is an exclusive excerpt from Jottings under Lamplight, the new collection of Lu Xun’s essays in translation, published by Harvard University Press, that Liz Carter reviewed for us.

In this essay, originally a talk to a women’s college in Beijing in 1923, Lu Xun tackles a range of topics, all under the guise of wondering about the fate of one of literature’s most famous figures: Nora, a Norweigen housewife in the late 19th century and protagonist of Henry Ibsen’s celebrated 1879 play A Doll’s House. At the end of the play, belittled by her husband and a constrictive society, Nora walks out on her family, slamming the door behind her as the curtain falls. Lu Xun picks it up from there, and compares Nora’s predicament to that of the fledgling republic of China. Continue reading