Mo Yan and his Translators
2012 witnessed the great success of Mo Yan, the first Chinese writer awarded with Nobel Prize in Literature. Since then, Mo’s works have been among the best-seller list in both Chinese and overseas markets, and the world started to pay more and more attention to Chinese culture.
A lover of books, I also read some works of Mo Yan, such as, Red Sorghum, Frogs, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out. His novels, Big Breasts and Wide Hips, The Garlic Ballads, Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh, and the Republic of Wine, are also in my reading plan.
Most of his works are epic historical novels characterized by hallucinatory realism and black humor, easy to understand and full of power. His words are so vivid and convincing that when I was reading his novel, Frogs, I even mistook it as his autobiography.
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Mo Yan’s contribution to Chinese literature is well clear to all, however, the dedication of his translation partners can’t be ignored. Without their hard work, Mo Yan would never receive so many honors and glories. Some even said these back-stage heroes are as great as Mo Yan.
It’s no exaggeration. Translation is by no means a simple skill, it also involves in creative works, even more difficult and complicate than writing itself. And some say that translators are frustrated writers.
According to the words of Howard Goldblatt (one of Mo Yan’s foremost translators), the task of translation is like “exertions” and “midwifery”. That’s why it’s believed that a writer can be well defined or destroyed by translation, while Mo Yan is a lucky person to enjoy the benefit of translation and established his world-wide fame from it.
However, not all writers have the same luck as Mo Yan does. For example, Isaac Bashevis Singer, winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature, was full of complaints about his translators. It was an unfortunate thing for his translators, but could have been even more unfortunate for Mr Singer. But now, as Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize, translators, such as Wen Jieruo, Howard Goldblatt, Anna Gustafsson Chen, have received international recognition, and a new epoch for translators comes.
However, Chinese literature is far from being well familiarized by the world, and the existence of few translations is the main reason for the marginalization of Chinese literature in the world, and more good translators are still wanted.
As an insignificant translator, I have a long way to go before becoming a great translator. Proud of the achievements that the current translation circle has made, I will take them as an example and devote my whole life to this career. Live and learn.
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