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January 31, 2013

Breaking: "Finnegans Wake" tops Chinese best-seller list


Wrote Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times, "James Joyce's fiendishly difficult novel "Finnegans Wake" has been called many things since it first began appearing in portions in 1924, including "the most colossal leg-pull in literature," "the work of a psychopath," and "the chief ironic epic of our time. Now, it can add another designation: best seller in China."

Above, a large billboard in Beijing advertising the translation.

More excerpts from the Times piece below.


A new translation of the novel has sold out its initial print run of 8,000 since it appeared December 25, thanks in part to an unusual billboard campaign in major Chinese cities, The Associated Press reported. In Shanghai, where the book was advertised on 16 billboards, sales were second only to a new biography of Deng Xiaoping in the "good books" category, according to the Shanghai News and Publishing Bureau.

The book's surprise success has drawn some clucking from Chinese observers (how do you say "coffee table trophy" in Mandarin?). But at a panel on Tuesday, the translator, Dai Congrong [below]


of Fudan University, who spent nearly 10 years wrestling with Joyce's runaway sentences and knotty coinages, confessed that even she didn't fully understand the book. "I would not be faithful to the original intent of the novel if my translation made it easy to comprehend," she said.

The... puzzling vogue for Joyce, whose "Ulysses" sold more than 85,000 copies when it was first published in Chinese translation in 1994, may reflect an interest in avant-garde writers once dismissed or banned as "decadent."


More here and here.

January 31, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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I can't wait for the Chinese "Bloomsday" - will it be this June 16?

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Feb 1, 2013 12:41:00 AM

I had to laugh at this;


Posted by: joepeach | Jan 31, 2013 6:24:14 PM

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