Ethnic ChinaLit Briefs (Feb 11)

Shaanxi Fiction via French Comics
One of China’s best-selling, classic works of “rural fiction,” the White Deer Plain by Chen Zhongshi (白鹿原,陈忠实), has still not been translated into English, but is available in French (Au pays du cerf blanc) in a rendition by Manga-Au pays du cerf blancShao Baoqing and Solange Cruveillé. This month, the comics version (连环画, right) made its debut in French at the Angoulême Int’l Comics Festival. In an interview with Huashang Newspaper (正准备画贾平凹), artist Li Zhiwu (李志武) revealed that another famous Shaanxi author, Jia Pingwa, granted him the rights to render Shaanxi Opera (秦腔, 贾平凹著) in comics several years ago. Li says he is preparing to begin soon. For a discussion of why Jia Pingwa’s works have not appeared widely in English, see Low Profile in Translation. If you can read French, see a fascinating feature on Li Zhiwu and his illustrations by Brigitte Duzan, « Au pays du cerf blanc » : après le roman, la bande dessinée.  

Censorship Watch

Why did Islamic State’s jihadi recently seize and burn 2,000 books from the city library of Mosul, Iraq, instead of dousing them with acid or burying them? In Moussoul et les grands autdafés de l’Histoire, François Boespflug, Professor Emeritus at the University of Strasbourg, explains:

Parce que c’est une manière exemplaire, impressionnante de manifester sa haine de la culture . . . Brûler des livres sur la place publique, c’est renouer avec une certaine idée d’une cérémonie sacrificielle. On signifie par là qu’on brûle l’impureté, qu’on tend à la purification des esprits. Et, bien sûr, on choisit les livres éducatifs et scientifiques qui, selon eux, pervertiraient la notion de puissance divine.

New Pashto-Chinese Dictionary

Realizing Che Hongcai’s long-held dream — he made some ten million index cards noting Pashto vocabulary and their Chinese versions beginning back in the 80s — the Commercial Press has just published the Pashto-Chinese Dictionary (《普什图语汉语词典》) containing 50,000+ entries. Pashto is spoken mainly in Pakistan, and Afghanistan where it is an official language, but the article says there are only a hundred or so people with a knowledge of it in the PRC.

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