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中国日报双语微信 2015-05-27 08:30






(Big Breasts and Wide Hips)


"If you like, you can skip my other novels, but you must read 'Big Breasts and Wide Hips'. " - Mo Yan



This novel is first and foremost about women. As the title implies, the female body serves as the book's most important image and metaphor.


The protagonist, the Mother, has 9 children, only one of whom is a boy, a spoiled and ineffectual child who stands in stark contrast to his 8 strong and forceful female siblings. Mother is a strong woman, who risks her life to save the lives of her family.


The writing is full of life - picturesque, bawdy, imaginative. Each of the 7 chapters represents a different time period, from the end of the Qing Dynasty up through the end of the 20th century.



"Big Breasts and Wide Hips" is a broad historical fresco portraying 20th-century China through the microcosm of a single family. - Nobel Committee


Mo Yan's strong feminist beliefs are very apparent throughout the novel. I was amazed at how Mo Yan incorporated magical realism into a social commentary. - Jeff Volkmann


(Life and Death are Wearing Me Out)


This is an absolutely spellbinding tale that reveals the author's love of the land, beset by so many ills, traditional and modern. - Amazon.com



The story begins in hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, is examining a landowner named Ximen Nao, who was executed so that his land could be redistributed to peasants. Since Ximen will not admit any guilt, Yama punishes him by sending him back to his own farm, where he is reborn first as a donkey, then an ox, pig, dog and monkey. Through the perspectives of these animals, Ximen narrates 50 years of rural Chinese history.



"Life and Death are Wearing Me Out" uses black humor to describe everyday life and the violent transmogrifications in the young People's Republic. - Nobel Committee


(Red Sorghum)


"Red Sorghum" is a book in which fable and history collide to produce fiction that is entirely new - and unforgettable. - Amazon.com



"Red Sorghum" consists of 5 stories that unfold in several turbulent decades in the 20th century, with depictions of bandit culture, the Japanese occupation and the harsh conditions endured by poor farmers. Two of the 5 stories formed the basis of Zhang Yimou's film.


Spanning 3 generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events set against a landscape of gemlike beauty in the turbulent 1930s. On almost every page, the horror and humor of war time are brought to life in graphic detail.



The canvas of history rarely stretches comfortably over the frame of fiction. But when it succeeds, the result can illuminate a time and place as it excites the imagination. - The New York Times


(The Garlic Ballads)


An epic novel of beauty and brutality. - Amazon.com



The setting of this novel is called Paradise County, where the farmers have been encouraged by county officials to plant garlic; but selling the crop during a surfeit is not as simple as they believed. The characters brawl, bleed and grovel. Yet, despite the bleakness of life, the tale is so full of seething vitality that it never sinks into gloom.


"The Garlic Ballads" is a powerful vision of the cruelty of life. It is also a delicate story of love between man and woman, father and child, friend and friend - and the struggle to maintain that love despite overwhelming obstacles.



With "The Garlic Ballads", Mr Mo has emerged as a major writer, a kind of Chinese magical realist whose stories, grounded in gritty naturalism, in the smells and fluids of real life, are nonetheless full of hallucination, demonic possession and the grotesquery of dreams. - The New York Times



"A writer should be brave to touch the sourest part deep in the soul. " - Mo Yan



The woman protagonist in this novel, the Aunt, is a complex character. On the one hand, as a brilliant midwife and gynecologist, Aunt brings thousands of healthy babies into the world. On the other hand, as a loyal Communist Party member, she faithfully defends the family planning policy.


The title, Wa, has different meanings. First of all, it is a homophone, part of the name nvwa (女娲), the legendary goddess who created human beings and patched up the sky. Secondly, this character is close to wa (娃), meaning "child". Thirdly, frogs are known for their fertility and thus are totemic animals in certain areas of China.



"The fundamental goal of writing is not criticizing a certain policy, but dissecting humanity and self-redemption. Reaching out for human souls and repentance, this might be the true value of the novel 'Frog'." - Mo Yan





Mo Yan's works have been translated into nearly 20 languages so far. The academicians for the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters are basically versed in English, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. That's the reason why those translating Mo's novels into those languages are worth commending for their roles in the Nobel award.


Anna Gustafsson Chen 陈安娜(瑞典语)

Howard Goldblatt 葛浩文(英语)

Chantal Chen-Andro 尚德兰(法语)

Peter Weber-Schafer 皮特·韦伯-谢法(德语)

Cora Tiedra 科拉·铁德拉(西班牙语)



Professor Howard Goldblatt (see photo), a US researcher of Chinese, was hailed as the "chief midwife" of contemporary Chinese literature. The novel translator introduced quite a few Chinese men of letters, including Xiao Hong, Bai Xianyong, Yang Jiang, Feng Jicai, Jia Pingwa, Su Tong, Wang Shuo as well as Mo Yan to English-speaking countries. Goldblatt was widely recognized by Chinese literature circles in 2008 when his English translation of the popular Chinese novel "Wolf Totem" was published.

葛浩文"邂逅"莫言始于《红高粱》。他当时是在朋友家读到了这部小说,一时冲动得不能自已,他对自己说:"这才是我想翻译的东西!" 1993年,《红高粱》英译本发行后,他又先后翻译了近十部莫言的小说,其中包括《天堂蒜薹之歌》、《丰乳肥臀》、《生死疲劳》和《檀香刑》。

It is Mo's "Red Sorghum" that motivated Goldblatt to translate more works by Mo. He got very excited after first reading the novel at a friend's home, saying it really was works he desired to translate. After the English version of "Red Sorghum" was published in 1993, Goldblatt spent years translating nearly 10 more novels by Mo, including "The Garlic Ballads", "Big Breasts and Wide Hips", "Life and Death are Wearing Me Out" and "Sandalwood Death".




Q: Which are your favorite works by Mo Yan?


Goldblatt: I truly like, and enjoy translating, all of Mo's fiction and usually for different reasons.


For instance, "The Republic of Wine" may be the most technically innovative and sophisticated novel from China I've read; "Life and Death are Wearing Me Out" is a brilliant extended fable; "Sandalwood Death" is, as the author contends, musical in its beauty.


Q: Could you compare Mo's works with those of other contemporary Chinese writers?


Goldblatt: Mo tends to be more "historical" than many of his contemporaries. Few of his works deal with up-to-date urban themes, which appear to be all the rage these days.


Q: Can you think of any similar Western writers in style, content or others?


Goldblatt: When I read Mo I'm often reminded of Dickens (I know he's not a contemporary): big, bold works with florid, imagistic, powerful writing and a strong moral core. I see parallels with works like William Vollmann's "Europe Central", with its historical sweep (Red Sorghum) and trenchant criticism of monstrous behavior by those in power (The Garlic Ballads).


And, of course, there are writers Mo seems to prefer, the modernist Faulkner, the magic-realist Garcia Marquez, and the Japanese Oe Kenzaburo.


Q:What do you think of the attention the Chinese put on the Nobel Prize in literature?


Goldblatt: I don't have a problem with the prize; it's the popular obsession over it that I find objectionable. For populations in countries like China and South Korea, it has become a matter of national validation if successful, and national scorn if not. Come on, folks, it's an individual prize for a writer's (or poet's) body of work. I know, that's not how a lot of people see it, but ... really!

(来源:中国日报双语微信 编辑:王伟)



















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