“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

China's 30 most influential translators - documentary series

By Helen Wang, published

http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/703463/The-art-of-translation.aspx [via MCLC - kirk (denton.2@osu.edu) - Subject: new doc on translators]

'The art of translation' by Lu Qianwen, Global Times, 5 April 2012:

'A new documentary series profiling China's 30 most influential translators premiered in Beijing in late March. The documentary series, A Life-long Pursuit, focuses on China's older generation of translation specialists and highlights their impact on the world and Chinese culture.

The documentary is part of an effort to fill in the current gap in China's history of translation. Co-produced by the Translators Association of China (TAC) under China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and Chagoo Ltd, a TAC subsidiary that offers translation services, the series began shooting in September 2011.

"We are producing a total of 30 episodes. We expect to finish 11 episodes by the end of this year. The 19 remaining episodes will be completed within the next few years," according to Gu Jufan, a producer from Chagoo.

After the series is finished, the production team plans to broadcast the episodes on television stations and video websites. They are aiming to transition the end product to film, screened in domestic movie theaters.

"We will produce a DVD version of the documentary along with a few books on the same subject," Gu said. He hopes this will extend the reach and impact of the documentary series.

"This is China's first documentary series about the older generation of translation specialists. It links their history to the country's contemporary translation culture," said Guo Xiaoyong, vice president of CIPG.

"The translators profiled have made significant contributions. They built bridges between China and other countries, but their accomplishments thus far haven't been acknowledged. We made this documentary to highlight the impact the translation field has, in promoting the country's cultural progress. These translators are exemplary role models for the future generation of translators," said Guo.

Individual portraits

The first episode of the documentary aired on March 23, 2012, profiling Tu An, a renowned poet and translator in China. Tu An is the penname of Jiang Bihou, with all works published under the former name. Born in 1923 in Jiangsu Province, Tu started learning English in sixth grade. His interest in poetry led him to translate a bulk of literature from the Western canon.

In 1948, Tu's first translated book Gusheng (Drum Roll), an anthology of Walt Whitman's poems, was published. In 1950, Tu translated Shakespeare's sonnets into Chinese, marking the first time Shakespeare's sonnets hit the Chinese mainland. The publishing of his three-year project, Jici Shixuan, an anthology of John Keats' poems, marked the height of Tu's career.

Tu was given the 1997-2000 Lu Xun Literary Prize for translation, awarded once every few years. This is China's most honored translation prize. In 2010, Tu An was given the Lifetime Achievements Award in Translation by the TAC, which has thus far only been awarded to seven translators.

All together, Tu has translated more than a dozen books. He has a deep love of poetry, citing Shakespeare and Keats as favorites. Tu An has also written hundreds of his own poems, doing so in vernacular Chinese instead of classical Chinese. To truly succeed in the field, Tu An believes that a good translator must not project his own feelings but evoke the emotions of the original writer.

While Tu translated work from Chinese into English, other notable translators that will be documented this year are Lin Wusun and Sha Boli (Sidney Shapiro), both regarded as pioneers in translating literature from Chinese to English.

Eighty-four-year-old Lin Wusun is renowned for translating China's classics such as the Analects of Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) and The Art of War by Sun Tzu (535 BC-470 BC) into English.

Born in 1915 in New York, Shapiro, a Chinese American, came to China in 1947. Initially coming out of curiosity, Shapiro found himself staying in China indefinitely. Though he only learned Chinese formally for nine months, he mastered the language quickly. Shapiro's translation of one of China's literature classics, The Outlaws of the Marshes (Shuihu Zhuan) written by Shi Nai'an, was highly regarded. Shapiro also published his own biography, I Chose China. In 2010, he was given the Lifetime Achievements Award in Translation by the TAC. Shaprio has translated more than 20 Chinese literature works into English.

Young translators

In order to produce a quality product, many translators spend years studying related history and culture. But with the pressure to make a living, younger translators finish a book in a matter of days. As Guo Xiaoyong said, simply knowing a foreign language is not enough. An efficient translator must have a strong grasp of both local and foreign cultures as well as an understanding of the tastes of the audiences.

"There are nearly 30 different translations of The Red and the Black by Stendhal, and more than 100 Chinese versions of Andersen's Fairytales, said Fan Fajia, a poet and literature critic from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Many of the translated versions of Andersen's Fairytales are disguised forms of the translations of Ye Junjian, a famous translator and writer of children's stories.

"Literature translation is a highly-skilled job. Just knowing English is not a qualifier," said Fan.

Fan's concerns about substandard translation works in circulation is shared by Guo.

"Many young translators sacrifice quality in pursuit of easy profits. We have to take an initiative to improve the situation," said Guo.

According to a CCTV news report released on March 24, China has translated and published over 6,000 books into foreign languages, a quarter of the number of foreign books translated into Chinese, during the past five years.

Given the huge room for the development of China's translated works, A Life-long Pursuit arrives just in time.'


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