Xiao Qian's Biography

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At the time of writing this biography, Biogs could only find one reliable source of information on Xiao Qian and yet we wanted to record his life. Therefore, we are totally indebted to an article by Teresa Poole in The Independent on Sunday on 20 November 1994.

Xiao Qian was born in 1910.

In 1939 Xiao Qian came to Britain to lecture in Chinese and work as the only Chinese correspondent in Europe to cover the Second World War.

He counted amongst his friends, George Orwell and E.M. Forster. Xiao Qian bought James Joyce's Ulysses in London in 1939, and whilst in Europe he also visited Joyce's grave in Zurich, reflecting in his diary:

"Here lies the corpse of someone who has wasted his great talents writing something very unreadable."

Xiao returned to China in 1949 on the eve of the Communist victory. He was branded a rightist and was twice sent to the countryside to do heavy manual labour. In 1966, he attempted suicide.

But, in 1979, Xiao was 'rehabilitated' and he and his wife, Wen Jieruo, resumed literary activity. They translated many books into Chinese. And then in 1990, he got approached to translate Ulysses.

It took Xiao and Jen four years to translate Leopold Bloom's stream of consciousness. It was an awesome task and their Chinese translation has nearly 6,000 footnotes!

Additional Note on Chinese Translation of the works of James Joyce

In 2013, the BBC reported that Dai Congrong had spent eight years producing a Chinese version of Finnegan's Wake.

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