China should make more effort in translating its literature to promote Chinese culture across the world, the former president of the International Federation of Translators said in Shanghai yesterday.
Technical translator Peter Krawutschke, who has just left the presidency of FIT, attached great importance to the role of literature translation in cultural exchanges.
"Unlike interpretation, which takes place in the moment, literature translations last for a long time," said Krawutschke, a professor with Western Michigan University in the United States.
"That's more helpful for other people to understand the culture and traditions of one country," he said.
For instance, German people knew a lot about France and the US because they could easily read works in German by French writer Moliere and American novelist Ernest Hemingway. However, few Westerners could name the great books in Chinese literature, he said.
Krawutschke said the only book about China his mother used to read was The Good Earth, an English-language book written by American Pearl S. Buck.
"Those who don't understand a country's situation will certainly find blocks to cross-cultural communication, as people are always fearful about things they don't know," he told Shanghai Daily during FIT's World Congress.
Krawutschke, who speaks fluent German, English and French, suggested that China should take the first step by nominating Chinese translators to sit on FIT's literature committee, now dominated by European and American members.
Krawutschke said that it could take China about 200 years to fully promote its culture to the world.
(Shanghai Daily August 6,2008)