Award puts translators in the spotlight

By Yang Guang (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-08 08:07

 Award puts translators in the spotlight

Tie Ning, chairperson of the Chinese Writers' Association, at the First Fu Lei Translation and Publication Award ceremony. Jiang Dong

With increasing globalization, literature translation and communication will play a vital role in enhancing understanding between different countries and cultures, said Tie Ning, chairperson of the Chinese Writers' Association, at Peking University on Sunday.

She was speaking at the ceremony announcing the much-anticipated first Fu Lei Translation and Publication Award, which went to anthropologist and ethnologist Claude Levi-Strauss's The Way of the Masks (La Voie des Masques) and philosopher Michel de Montaigne's The Essays (Les Essais).

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, who won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature, and Herve Ladsous, French Ambassador to China, together presented the award to translators Zhang Zujian and Ma Zhencheng, who will share the 8,000 euros ($11,886) with their publishers - China Renmin University Press and Shanghai Bookstore Publishing House.

Named after pre-eminent Chinese translator Fu Lei (1908-66), the annual award aims to promote the translation and publication of French books in China.

Also present at the awards ceremony were deputy president of Peking University, Wu Zhipan, the jury panel and nominating translators and publishers.

Tie recounted her connection with French literature, saying Fu Lei's translation of Romain Rolland, Prosper Merimee, and Honore de Balzac occupied an important position in her own reading experience.

"Literature brings people compartmentalized by prejudice into empathy. Thousands of miles apart, they enjoy the richness and beauty of the same world through literature, though from different perspectives, " she said.

Tie hoped the award would further expand Chinese-French translation and communication and mentioned the first Chinese-French Literature Forum held last month in Paris as an important step in this direction.

"We met in Paris to share our ideas about the world, about human hearts, and about literature," she said. "Each of our speeches and even arguments brought us closer and deepened our understanding of literature."

Seven Chinese and eight French writers participated in the two-day forum, and discussed such topics as the role of literature in social progress, women in contemporary literature and literary translation skills.

According to Dong Qiang, chairman of the jury panel, the older generation of Chinese writers, like Ba Jin (1904-2005), Lao She (1899-1966) and Lu Xun (1881-1936), inspired French readers' interest in China, and remain their favorite Chinese writers. Contemporary ones such as Mo Yan, Su Tong and Yu Hua also have a certain readership, while Wang Anyi and Bi Feiyu have attracted some attention in recent years.

(China Daily 12/08/2009 page19)