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'The Good Boatman' sails to China
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By Chris Higginbotham

Even 61 years after his death, Mahatma Gandhi is a figure who still looms large. Finding a chronicle of his life is easy. Look up Gandhi on Amazon books and you'll get more than 62 thousand hits. Trying to find a copy of "The Good Boatman," a rare account of India's leader to independence, is a little more difficult.

Trying to find a copy of it in Chinese is impossible. But that is soon to change.

"After reading this book, a keen desire to translate it into Chinese came over me," said Deng Junbing, who translated the book into Mandarin. Deng is the wife of China's former ambassador to India, Zhou Gang.

"For every country where I worked together with my husband, I wanted to translate one of its books and introduce it to my people."

"The Good Boatman" was originally written by Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, a grandson of the Mahatma. It was originally published in 1995.

It took three years for Deng to translate the 495-page book, which she received as a gift from the Mahatma's granddaughter, the author's sister. Then it was another three years before a Chinese publisher picked it up.

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The book chronicles Gandhi's life, focusing on his teachings and his actions. It could be considered a biography but is organized around themes instead of being told chronologically. Concepts typical to Gandhi's leadership, such as civil disobedience, may be unfamiliar to Chinese readers.

"I regarded it as both a challenge and a glorious task to translate the concepts and ideas expressed in the book into idiomatic Chinese."

"The project undertaken by Madame Deng is of immense importance," said India's ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao. "There is a great need for more of such works to be translated.

"It is through the enabling of access to such information for audiences in both countries that we can deepen understanding."

The Chinese version of "The Good Boatman" will be available later this year. It is Deng's fourth translated work.

(China.org.cn July 2, 2009)

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