Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fu Lei's Manuscripts donated to National Library of China

All the manuscripts of Fu Lei (1908-1966), one of the greatest literary translators of contemporary China, were donated to National Library of China last week by his sons Fu Cong and Fu Min.
Fu Lei was born near Shanghai, studied art and art theory in France during 1928–1932. Upon his return to China, he taught in Shanghai and worked as a journalist and art critic until he took up translating. His translations, which remain highly regarded, include Voltaire, Balzac and Romain Rolland. He developed his own style, the "Fu Lei style", and his own translation theory. His family letters to his son Fu Cong, a world-renowned pianist, were published posthumously and have become a bestseller in China to this day.
When I was an university student, I read quite a lot of books translated by Fu Lei, including Romain Rolland's Jean Christophe and Les Trois Vies (Vie de Tolstoï, Vie de Michelange and Vie de Beethoven), and was deeply impressed by them.
National Library of China has a special collection of contemporary notable authors. There was an exhibition of Fu Lei's manuscripts upon the donation ceremony.
Fu Lei dedicated himself to literary translation with a kind of religious passion, which is very rare in contemporary China. At the exhibition, I see even 3-4 versions of manuscripts for one title during his translation, and all the manuscripts were written carefully with pens or Chinese writing brushes. The manuscripts themselves are models of Chinese calligraphy.