Li Wenjun: Bringing Faulkner to China

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Editor's note: Li Wenjun, a renowned translator, was born in Shanghai in 1930. His family originated from Zhongshan, Guangdong. After graduating from high school, he was admitted into the Department of Journalism at Fudan University and graduated in 1952. Later, he worked as an associate editor, editor, editor-in-chief at Rendition and World Literature, vice chairman of the Translators Association of China (TAC), a member of the international culture committee of China Writers Association (CWA) and a committee member of the Institute of Foreign Literature at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). He became an honorable member of the CASS in 2012 and joined the CWA in 1979. Li is famous for his translation of William Faulkner, an American writer that hailed from the southern United States.

On Feb. 10, 2017, at his residence, the 87-year-old Li talks about his career as a writer/translator and his personal life.


The renowned translator Li Wenjun took on foreign languages as a career partly by chance. At Fudan University, Li thought that journalism was no fun, so he decided to "deadhead" at the department of foreign languages. "As long as you've gained enough credits for your bachelor degree, you're free to do some foreign language courses of your choosing." Li's father was an intellectual and used to work at Jardine Matheson in Shanghai, where he earned a relatively good income. His mother was a housewife but was also well educated. "I had quite a bit of freedom. They just hoped that nothing would interfere with my performance at school." At Fudan Li worked with other interested students in translating, but it was not until around 1952-53 that they started to submit their work to publishing houses and become published translators. [Photo by Chen Boyuan/]

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