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What these cards say about Tolkien

A new Chinese translation of the author's biography comes with an innovative idea involving a script rediscovered from ancient books and telling the reader how the writer himself was a Hobbit, Yang Yang reports.

By Yang Yang | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-06-10 10:31
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The cover of the card set.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The Chinese translation of Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, published recently by Horizon Books, comes with an unusual set of five cards showcasing an ingenious transcultural design that will be of interest to many readers, at home and abroad.

The cards bear a short self-introduction of Tolkien, English writer and the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The introduction is curiously written in an ancient Chinese calligraphy style. It almost looks like it was photocopied from ancient Chinese books.

Last year, when Dai Guqiu and Mu Dong were working on the Chinese translation of the book, Dai shared with Mu his idea of inserting, in the books, a set of cards, on which they could print a brief introduction of Tolkien in ancient Chinese style.

"Dai has a hobby of collecting photographs from ancient books," says Mu, the 38-year-old translator of the book. "He said we could use ancient Chinese script to write a short introduction of Tolkien and he would find all the ancient Chinese characters of the script from his collection, so that in the end we can put together an entire passage in a style taken from ancient books."

Dai, a Tolkien fan, also revised the translation.

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