year of the horse: China in 10 words

Happy Chinese New Year – Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gong Hey Fat Choy!ChinesePoetry

To celebrate the dawning of the Year of the Horse, it’s time to read about China.

The London Review Bookshop recommends an introduction to Chinese poetry, including original calligraphy and literal translation as well as English translations of the poems, which is a great way in.  I have been looking for something for this for a while, since I found a Japanese book in the same style on woman haiku writer Chiyo-ni.

Another great suggestion from LRB is “China in 10 Words” by Yu Hua, a sharp analysis of his own country from his childhood in during the Cultural Revolution to today.  His ten words are:

People, leader, reading, writing, revolution

Disparity, grassroots, copycat, bamboozle, Lu Xun

So far, so clear; and bamboozle is a great word. But who is Lu Xun?

Chinain10wordsEssayist, author of poetry and prose and translator, he is a central figure in modern Chinese literature who shaped the May 4th Movement, though he never joined the Communist Party.  You can find some of his stories and poems in English translation online. As his expert translator into English, Julia Lovell, says, “his is an angry, searing vision of China.”

If you had to introduce your birth land in 10 words, what would you choose? It works best if you don’t think about it for too long. Here’s my list for Wales:

Mountains, sea, parochialism, dispossession, dragon

Mabinogion, Eisteddfodd, hiraeth, linguapolitics, song

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Posted in international, language, literature, poetry, translation, words, Year of the Horse
One comment on “year of the horse: China in 10 words
  1. Wujek says:

    Kung Hey Fat Choy to you too, Gwenllian!

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