Research center honors late translator

Updated: 2014-12-26 12:54

By Zhang Yue in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Research center honors late translator

Zhou Mingwei (second from right), head of China International Publishing Group, announces the establishment of a research center in honor of Sidney Shapiro at the Ocean University of China during a meeting on Dec 23. Dong Fang / For China Daily

A research center to commemorate Sidney Shapiro, a famed writer and translator who came to China from the United States during the 1940s, was recently established at China International Publishing Group, (CIPG).

Establishment of the center was announced during a seminar held by CIPG in observance of Shapiro's 99th birthday. Shapiro died at his home in Beijing on October 18, 2014.

Shapiro was born in 1915 in the United States. He came to China in 1947, and lived the rest of his life here. During his years in China, Shapiro did a tremendous amount of literature translation and translated more than 20 Chinese books. Some of the most famous works include the Water Margin, Snow Track in the Winter Forest and Rhymes of Li Youcai. In 1963, he showed his willingness to become a Chinese national and the request was granted by Zhou Enlai, China's then prime minister.

More than 15 guests from CIPG, the Translators Association of China, as well as China Pictorial attended the seminar. Shapiro was also a member of China's Political Consultative Conference. In Dec 2010, Shapiro received the award of Translation and Culture Lifetime Achievement Award.

"We have long been working hard to build a model criteria for translation between Chinese and English, and the whole life's work of Shapiro has set an excellent model for this criteria," said Zhou Mingwei, head of the CIPG. "Shapiro always said that Western people have many misunderstandings about China. They see very little about China, bear quite a lot of misconceptions, and are easily misguided," Zhou recalled.

"He insisted in reading and writing to the last days of his life," said Wang Shuya of China Pictorial, who worked with Shapiro in the final years of his life. "He even had eye surgery at the age of 96 because he did not want to stop reading."

Ren Dongsheng, deputy dean of college of foreign language at Ocean University of China, said he first came across Shapiro's work in the year 2000, when he was browsing a bookstore for old books. He found the English version of Snow Track in the Winter Forest, which Shapiro translated from Chinese to English.

"His marvelous understanding about the context of the novel really amazed me," he said. "It is hard for me to imagine an American to have such a detailed and vivid understanding about the story that happened during the late 1940s in a village in north east China."

The Sidney Shapiro Research Center has set up its sub office at the foreign language college of Ocean University of China.