Thursday 23 November 2017

‘Mentally ill' James Joyce is a surprise hit in China

THE Chinese reading public love Harry Potter books - JK Rowling was the best-selling foreign author in 2012, earning approximately €2m in the Chinese market - but a more unlikely foreign writing success has come to light this week.

A new Chinese translation of Finnegans Wake, a book renowned for its linguistic complexity, has sold out its initial print run of 8,000 copies just three weeks.

It is the first mainland Chinese edition of James Joyce's 1939 novel, which took the Dublin-born author of Ulysses 17 years to write.

It took translator Dai Congrong, of Shanghai's Fudan University, eight years to turn Joyce's complex stream of consciousness style into Chinese, and publisher Wang Weisong, of the Shanghai People's Publishing House, described the success of the book as being "totally unexpected".

Although the highbrow novel has been an unpredicted commercial success in a market in which the book Plants VS Zombies is a best-seller, there has been a backlash against Joyce, who died in 1941.

Jiang Xiaoyuan, a professor at Shanghai's Jiaotong University, was quoted by Xinhua as saying: "Joyce must have been mentally ill to create such a novel."

By Martin Chilton,

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