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Inside-Out China

A Chinese immigrant's perspective on China

Site Owner: Xujun

Most Recent Posts from Inside-Out China

On Ezra Pound’s Translation of Ancient Chinese Poetry

Can one translate poetry without knowing the source language?  Certainly that was what Ezra Pound did.  In his volume Cathay (1915), Pound translates a total of 19 pieces of ancient Chinese poetry, spanning a period from the 11th Century B.C. to 4th Century A.D.  But of course he couldn’t have done it without help from someone who had knowledge of the Chinese language, in this case Ernest Fenollosa, an American orientalist. The unusual situation, however, was that Pound was appr...

Posted on 17 December 2014 | 8:32 pm

What Foreigners Do in China

(Also published on LARB's China Blog)In the remote mountains of Yunnan Province, China, a middle-aged European ecologist gave up his high-level international program manager job and made his home with a local woman. Together, they set forth to reestablish the rainforests destroyed by rubber tree plantations, cultivated a garden — a seed bank — that “was home to more species than all of Germany,” reintroduced indigenous plant species to China, and homeschooled two bright young child...

Posted on 10 February 2014 | 12:45 pm

"Better to Let Half of the People Die," said Mao?

Nearly two years ago, when I translated Yang Jisheng's response to Dikötter's strange comments on Tombstone, I said I was intensely interested to find out whether Mao really said "It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill," and if he did, in what context.  I received a couple of clues, but none provided the complete context, and I have been left wondering since. I even sent an email to Yang Jisheng asking if he knew about this Mao quote, but did n...

Posted on 5 November 2013 | 2:46 am

Reviews of Unsavory Elements

I have gotten good feedback on compiling reviews for a book (example: "Reviews of Deng Xiaoping in Review").  So here is another one - today for Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China. Some of these reviews (as well as the comments they triggered) are surely interesting to read.I also plan to write a review myself, and I can tell you beforehand that I honestly enjoyed reading most of the book. But since translation issues will be beyond the scope of my review, here I...

Posted on 15 September 2013 | 5:20 pm

The New American Mother

(A personal essay about my early days in America)In pain, you know only your native language.The fetal monitor beside me showed a running curve, no pause between contractions. I was screaming in Chinese, my American husband told me later, but the language of pain did not need translation: the midwife hurried over to offer a painkiller. I refused; I did not want to risk my baby to any drug, no matter how safe they said it was.When the baby finally emerged, wet and squalling, the midwife encourage...

Posted on 15 April 2013 | 3:44 pm

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