Australia’s Medal for Excellence in Translation for Minford’s I Ching

The Australian Academy of the Humanities has inaugurated its Medal for Excellence in Translation, and the first winner is John Minford for his translation of I Ching (Yijing): The Book of Change.

Books and Publishing reports:

A judging panel comprising Brian Nelson, Mabel Lee and Peter Doyle said Minford’s work ‘bids fair to become the definitive translation of this primary Chinese classic’.

‘An imposing example of the translator-scholar as cultural intermediary, it is both a tour de force of scholarship and a distinguished literary achievement,’ said the judges. ‘Minford adopts a thoughtful, original, flexible approach to the challenges of his task as translator, offering a significantly new interpretation of a piece of major world literature.’

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Farrell on Lee’s Hong Ying

Michael Farrell at Cordite Poetry Review reviews I Too Am Salammbo 我也叫萨朗波, by Hong Ying 虹影, translated by Mabel Lee.

The collection’s translator, Mabel Lee, uses spacing as caesurae to evoke the possibility of Chinese characters for phrases like ‘moss attracts moss’ (‘Ascending the Mountain’) and ‘painting otters’ (‘Otters’). These are just one kind of moment that happens: many of the poems are far from being as sweetly picturesque, pointing instead to family and sexual trouble, and sometimes both together:

Our lungs
Always wrap around men’s lies and sex organs
Turning   I
Confront Mother
And Mother walks away all alone
Before death we sisters will open our beautiful mouths
To spit out one man after another (‘Dreaming of Beijing’)

The use of spacing is effective in aiding line readability. While sometimes it provides merely a slowing down of the line, at others, where the shift in sense between the two phrases is more disjunctive, the effect is one of montage, referring to text, feeling, memory, metaphor.

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Aesthetics and Creation By Gao Xingjian

Front Cover of Gao Xingjian:  Aesthetics and Creation

Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian is amongst the most challenging writers of the present era. He has probed the dynamics of Chinese and European literature and developed unique strategies for the writing of seventeen plays, two novels, a collection of short stories and a collection of poems. He has also written two collections of criticism.

The present collection takes the title Aesthetics and Creation from the name of the Chinese collection from which most of these essays are drawn, but it also includes some of Gao’s most recent unpublished essays. University of Sydney academic Mabel Lee is the translator, and the book also includes her authoritative introductory essay that contextualizes Gao’s significant position as an independent and uncompromising voice in the noisy hype of the globalized world of the present in which creative writers and artists are forced to conform with the demands of political and other group agendas, or with market forces, in order to survive.

Gao Xingjian’s Aesthetics and Creation has importance and relevance to the general reader with an interest in literature and art as a creative human pursuit that is not demarcated by national or cultural boundaries. This book is both indispensable and inspiring reading for intellectuals and informed readers who regard themselves as citizens of the world. For academics, researchers, and students engaged in the disciplines of literature and visual art studies, world literature studies, comparative literature studies, performance studies, theatre studies, cultural studies, narrative fiction studies, and studies in the history of literature and the visual arts in modern times, this book is essential and thought-provoking reading that will have many positive outcomes.