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China literary icon Yang Jiang turns 100

07-19-2011 08:40 BJT

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Now let's take a moment to pay tribute to one of China's greatest living literary luminaries, Yang Jiang, who celebrated her 100 birthday on Sunday.

Being a successful author, translator and playwright, Yang Jiang has been a highly respected name among Chinese intellectuals, for her diverse literary accomplishments. Today, let's take a retrospective look at Yang Jiang's centenary.

Yang Jiang

Yang Jiang was born in Beijing on July 17th, 1911, with the original name Yang Jikang.

In Spring of 1932, the 21-year-old girl fell in love with a Tsinghua University student, Qian Zhongshu, who later turned into a cultural icon in contemporary China.

Propelled by the red hot relationship, Yang entered the graduate school of Tsinghua University the next year to study foreign literature.

Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang became man and wife in 1935. The couple then went on a trip to Europe for further studies.

Yang and her husband Qian Zhongshu when young

Yang Jiang's writing career is notable not only for being long, but also for being a varied one.

When the Spanish King visited China in 1978, leader Deng Xiaoping presented him a special gift -- a Chinese version of Don Quixote. And the translator was Yang Jiang.

In a myriad of the Spanish literature classic's Chinese versions, Yang Jiang's remains an all-time best-seller. A total of 700 thousand copies of it have been released up to now.

Besides being an accomplished translator, Yang also distinguished herself with her plain yet elegant prose and novels.

After her daughter died of cancer in 1997, Yang penned a memoir called "We Three," recalling the sweet family time while mourning the transience of lives.

Yang's family

During the past decade, Yang has been devoting herself to sorting out her husband's large amount of manuscripts and letters.

Qian spent most of his life delving into Chinese and Western literature. He died in 1998 at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of works including the novel "Fortress Besieged," which has been translated into dozens of foreign languages.

In 2003, at 92, Yang Jiang finally released "Qian Zhongshu's Manuscripts Collection", fulfilling her husband's long-time wish.

Yang is equally admired for her indifference to fame and wealth, and her generous nature in giving back to society.

In 2001, she donated the entirety of remuneration from her husband and herself to set up a scholarship in Tsinghua University.

Yang and her already late husband Qian Zhongshu

"Qian Zhongshu and I had this idea long ago. We wanted to be able to support those poor but determined students. The scholarship is named "Loving Reading" which expresses our expectations: that whatever adverse environment you are in, don't give up your dream and academic pursuit. "

British poet Walter Savage Lander's works are among Yang Jiang's favorite. He used to write: I strove with none, for none was worth my strife. The line is considered the best conclusion of Yang's personality and life.

Editor:Li Wanran |Source: CNTV.CN

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