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  Chinese Way>Life

Western art classic finally translated

2013-07-30 15:30:52

(China Daily)


Nike de Samothrace displayed at the Louvre Museum

The best-selling classic on Western art history, Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition, has been translated into simplified Chinese for the first time.

The Chinese language version of the book was published in mid-July.

The book took almost three decades to translate, says the man behind the complex translation, Zhu Qingsheng.

"Years ago, we abandoned the idea of quickly publishing it, and adopted a technique of translation with a team of people, because the book deserves our best work and we hoped to set an academic standard by translating it," Zhu says.

To assemble a number of translators to work as if in a relay for a single work is a method that the American Translators Association applied to translate the Bible. It was also a technique used in the sixth century by Xuanzang, who started to translate the Sanskrit sutra into Chinese, Zhu says.

"It's better and will cause less confusion compared to simply cutting the original text into sections and spread among different translators, the way most academic works are translated," Zhu says.

Over 29 years, 50 translators have been involved in the project. Because of copyright changes and edition updates of the original book, Zhu and his team tried four times to render different editions of the book. The final version is the seventh edition of the book.

"Once I thought it was finally done and was about to be published back in 1998. I planned to start writing a children's history of art for my son, who was a third-grader at the time," Zhu says.

"Now it's finally out, and my son is already a grown-up," Zhu says. "I'm probably leaving my plan of a history of art for children as a gift for my grandchildren."

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