Controversy over vulgar Tagore translation

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2015-12-25 15:03:43

Controversy over vulgar Tagore translation

Feng Tang [Photo/]

A renowned Chinese writer has been the target of criticism after his new translation of a widely popular collection of poetry was accused of obscenity.

Feng Tang, 44, is an author most known for a series of provocative novels about life in Beijing in the 1990s popular with young readers. His works are dubbed by some as "xiao huang shu" (little pornographic books) for their racy tone and erotic content.

His translation of "Stray Birds," a collection of poems by Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), from English to Chinese adopts similar sordid language.

In one instance, Feng translated the original lines "The world puts off its mask of vastness to its lover" into Chinese that read "The world unzipped his pants in front of his lover." In translating the word "hospitable" in the line "The great earth makes herself hospitable with the help of the grass," Feng uses the Chinese word "sao," which is closer to the English word "flirtatious."

His work, published in July, did not garner much attention until earlier this month, when the odd translations were brought to light on social media. Users on microblog Sina Weibo chastised it as "full of the smell of hormone" and "a blasphemy against the great poet."

User "Will-wrong-23" wrote that Feng turned the great poems into playful jingles, and the solemnity and tranquility of the original work had disappeared.

Others approved of his translation.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with the translation. Literature should not be measured against yardsticks," Weibo user "gugugugugux" wrote.

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