Wen Jieruo: A Lifelong Devotee to Literature Translation

November 2, 2017
Editor: Jane Wang
Wen Jieruo: A Lifelong Devotee to Translating Literature

Wen Jieruo shows off one of her calligraphy works at her home. [workercn.cn]


Wen Jieruo, a renowned translator who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, said her passion for world literature will never stop as long as she still has her health.

Thanks to Wen, generations of Chinese readers have been able to enjoy the writings of prominent Japanese authors such as Yasushi Inoue, Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima.

In her twilight years she cooperated with her husband, Xiao Qian, who was also a famous writer and translator, in translating Irish author James Joyce's Ulysses into Chinese.

Although Wen is at an advancing age, she has never wasted a day of her life. She still often says to her friends, "There are too many things to do. All the translation and writing I wanted to do couldn't be completed even if I was given another 20 years."

Wen has led a simple life, and has only two household appliances: a refrigerator and a telephone. She explains, "For a person, the spiritual life is important. Those who have spiritual pursuits and goals will not pay much attention to material life."

Wen always thinks that she was born to translate and write. All her time, energy and interests have been focused on such matters.

The senior scholar works around nine hours a day. Aside from translation and writing, she also shows an interest in calligraphy.

Wen has persisted in cooking and doing housework by herself as she believes that it is a way of working out.

It is easy for her to buy food at a supermarket nearby her home. However, she has difficulty in collecting parcels and sending mail to the post office far away from her residence.

When strangers helped her cross the road, she usually gave away her books to them in return for their assistance. As a lifelong book lover, Wen considers that it is a best way to express her thanks to those who have helped her. Meanwhile, she hopes that more people in the world can enjoy reading and gain pleasure from it.

(Source: workercn.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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