More is less as China seeks to promote its literature

By Cecily Liu in London ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-20 09:06:17

More is less as China seeks to promote its literature

Dreamy accolade for 'Red Mansions' 

More is less as China seeks to promote its literature

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Chinese literature has played a key role in communicating Chinese values and cultural traditions to the Western world, and needs to be promoted more aggressively, a British academic says.

Michel Hockx, professor of Chinese at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), believes China's rapid growth will spur increased interest in its literature.

Great literary works are valuable tools with which China can boost its soft power internationally, says Hockx.

"Introducing Western people to Chinese classics and cultural traditions, including Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, is typically what a soft power initiative would do," Hockx says.

Initiatives, such as the SOAS China Institute, are encouraging scholarly research on China and will play a key role in promoting China, he says.

The appreciation for Chinese literature and culture has been growing steadily, thanks partly to the spread of Confucius institutes in Europe, where Chinese languages are taught. These places are drawing large crowds of students.

More Chinese books are now being translated into Western languages, and the country's rising profile in literary circles can be gauged by events such as the London Book Fair, where China was the focus country in 2012. That year, Chinese writer Mo Yan also won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Hockx appreciates Mo's writings that are usually woven with magical realism and depictions of rural China, where the author spent most of his childhood.

"I think the greatest quality of his works is that they completely shatter the notion of realism, especially when one measures it with the old Chinese belief that fiction needs to be more realistic," Hockx says. "In his works, there's such detail about reality from different perspectives that at some point you realize that the techniques cannot be real."

Related: Learning Chinese language helps Americans know different world

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