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Posted by Joel Martinsen on Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 10:08 PM
Ayn Rand's more tolerable tome, The Fountainhead, hits Chinese bookstores in November. 700 pages, 800,000 characters, the story of Howard Roark's individualist triumph over the forces of collectivism will arrive in cities whose architecture he would probably have had difficulty preventing himself from dynamiting.
Why is The Fountainhead getting translated? Numbers, for one thing. Most early reviews note Rand's vast audience, with Atlas Shrugged selling second only to the Bible. It's certainly not because of any literary value. The Beijing News, in a review casting it as a work of utopian fiction, calls it "long, dull, and unbalanced, with no sense of rhythm," but says that as a work of philosophy, "we really shouldn't use the standards of literature to evaluate it."
Writing in The Economic Observer Review of Books, reviewer Shi Tao pinpoints why this book might appeal to today's Chinese readers:
Or it could just be that the "virtue of selfishness" is just the philosophy China's rich need to explain away such unpleasantries as the wealth gap and social duties.
While this is the first novel to be translated, Rand's theories have been available in China for a decade. In 1993, her A New Concept of Egoism was published. But it was only last year, with the publication of The Ayn Rand Column (translated as The Only Road to Tomorrow), that she really broke out. Earlier this year, Rand's For the New Intellectual and The Voice of Reason were published in translation.
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Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.