Lifestyle & Belief

'Finnegans Wake' becomes a hit in China


An undated picture of James Joyce (R) and Sylvia Beach.



The Chinese version of James Joyce's classic "Finnegans Wake" might not be any easier to read than the English original, but it's still a hit in China, selling out its first run.

According to the Associated Press, Dai Congrong, who spent eight years translating the comic novel, told a recent forum in Shanghai that she didn't fully understand the book, but that she knew it was supposed to be difficult, so she kept it that way.

"I would not be faithful to the original intent of the novel if my translation made it easy to comprehend," Dai said.

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Wang Weisong, chief editor of the Shanghai company that published the Chinese version of the Joyce classic, commented that he wasn't expecting the work of fiction to be a success in China. He was surprised when initial run of 8,000 sold out since it was up for sale Dec. 25.

More copies are being printed to meet demand.

Literature fans in China are already familiar with the work of the early 20th century Irish writer, noted Agence France-Presse, since the Chinese edition of "Ulysses" went on sale in 1995.

Literature critic Liu Wei also told AFP that he thought the book deserved respect.

"Modern writers share a common sense of doing interesting textual experiments... among this group of writers, Joyce has the most intensive sense of all."