Dutch Sinologist and Translator Mark Leenhouts Have Dialogue with Renowned Chinese Contemporary Writer Yu Hua

[Source]    Confucius Institute of Leiden University, Holland [Time]    2017-09-29 17:02:12 

September 20th local time witnessed a fantastic conversation organized by the Confucius Institute at Leiden University in Holland between Yu Hua, a renowned contemporary writer in China and Mark Leenhouts, a Dutch sinologist and translator. Based on his own works including To Live, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, Brothers, and Seventh Day, Yu Hua talked freely on the course of his literature creation and the influence his real life has on his works. Nearly 200 people were present.

Mark Leenhouts, a doctor of contemporary Chinese literature at Leiden University and well-known sinologist, won the De Nederlands Letterenfonds Vertaalprijen award in 2012, and is well versed on the works of Yu Hua. The meeting started with Mark introducing the working experience of Yu Hua in his youth and main ideas of Yu’s works that have been translated into Dutch. Then he discussed the relationship between literature works and life with Yu Hua with the common image in Yu’s works as a cutting point.

Mark (left) and Yu Hua (right) at the event

Yu Hua says that novels created in different periods of life reflect different feelings of life. He believes that these feelings are just parts of his life and with the constant development of China and his age, these feelings progress. Like the growth of an individual, Yu Hua has changed his perspectives and concerns with the maturation of his own reflection. As a pioneer writer, Yu Hua’s works directly point out the gloom in society and reflect miserable lives. But he also said that his writing has been filled with hope all along the piece.

When talking about the influence the changing reality has had on his creations, Yu said that the origins of detailed description in the Seventh Day and Brothers can be found in China. The suits in the 1980s and beauty pageants in the 1990s are his impression of China’s society at that time and the perspectives he chose to record. It is exactly through their chosen perspectives that writers present their opinions of life, which not only reflect the development of the society, but also exemplify the changing thoughts of the public in different eras.

The audience raised questions about the personal life of Yu Hua and the style of his novels. Yu Hua answered each question with patience and shared his understanding of the relationship between collectivism and individualism. The wise and amusing writer impressed the audience. After the Q&A session, there was a book signing of the Dutch version of Yu Hua’s works.

Venue of the interview between Yu Hua and Mark

The visit of Yu Hua is part of the exchange activities organized by the Confucius Institute at Leiden University, which enhances the Dutch literature lovers’ understanding of the Chinese literature and society, enlarges the international influence of Chinese literature, deepens and widens the cultural exchanges between China and the world from various levels and perspectives.

In recent years, the thriving Confucius Institutes in various places have had innovations in operation forms apart from the daily language education and basic cultural promotion, so as to build a platform and bridge Chinese culture to the rest of the world. The Confucius Institute at Leiden University locates in the center of Sinology in Europe and is characterized as a research-based institute. To introduce more excellent Chinese literature works to Dutch readers and cultivate young translators, the institute organizes the translation of excellent Chinese literature works and promotion on literature every year. They have published novels composed by eminent writers including Su Tong, Bi Feiyu, and Xu Zechen. This year, it is the fourth time that the institute cooperates with the DEGEUS publishing house to publish collections of stories by Chinese writers and the translation of Dream of the Red Chamber into Dutch is under way. Furthermore, The Confucius Institute at Leiden University has invited prestigious writers including Su Tong and Liu Zhenyun to attend their activities previously.


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