More Chinese pieces deserving of French translations

2024 has been dubbed the “Franco-Chinese Year of Cultural Tourism” in honor of the 60th anniversary of China and France’s diplomatic relations being established. Many events, some of which have already taken place, will take place in France and China in the upcoming months. For example, the Temple of Heaven and Notre-Dame de Paris are among the sculptures on display at the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. In addition, Les Misérables and Les Fourberies de Scapin will be presented, as well as a Château de Versailles exhibition at the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) and a performance of Charles Gounod’s opera Roméo et Juliette in Beijing.

 

An attempt has been made by both parties to plan gala programs. Beyond organizing one-time events, China’s most significant contribution will be to carry on its long-term initiative of supporting the translation and dissemination of Chinese writers’ and academics’ works in French. Major works like Eastern and Western Cultures and their Philosophies by Liang Shuming, A Sociological Study of the Chinese Family System by Lin Yaohua, and From the Soil, an influential study by renowned anthropologist Fei Xiaotong (a biography of whom has also been translated and published), have all been introduced to the French-speaking public through these translated works.

 

It is interesting to note that respectable French academic publishing firms, such Honoré Champion, L’Harmattan, and Presses de l’Inalco, have taken part in this cross-cultural communication project. China deserves praise for its consistent efforts to increase the quantity and caliber of these translations, as well as for bringing more modern and contemporary Chinese literature to a wider global audience. The significant imbalance in the quantity of acquisitions is somewhat balanced by this state-led initiative: Chinese publishing houses translate a far higher number of books from French than their French counterparts do from Chinese.

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