The Chinese version of the first part of James Joyce’s 1939 novel Finnegan’s Wake was published last December. Dai Congrong, professor of Chinese language and literature at Fudan University, Shanghai, spent eight years translating the notoriously difficulty work, and did not anticipate it would become a bestseller.
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A competition has been launched for Chinese readers to translate stories by novelist David Mitchell.
The contest is part of a new collaborative project between Douban Read, which is part of Chinese-language social networking site Douban, and Nesta, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Council and The Literary Platform.
The translation project is designed to help further understanding of the Chinese market for British writing.
Ms. Dai spent eight years translating into Chinese the 1939 James Joyce novel that the author’s own brother described as “unspeakably wearisome.” She endured low pay, a skeptical husband and the continued demands of her teaching job. That is on top of deciphering sentences like this: “Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.”