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Shining Red Star, Immortal Classic – A brief discussion on the writing and translation of “Red Star Shines on China”


[Guangming Shuhua]

Author: Ji Tairan (Ph.D. candidate, School of Marxism, Tsinghua University)

In July 1936, Edgar Snow arrived in northern Shaanxi through numerous blockades, conducted in-depth interviews with Mao Zedong and other CCP leaders, and completed an immortal masterpiece: “Red Star Shines on China.” In this work, Snow used detailed materials to show the true situation of the Chinese Communist Party and fought back against the reactionary forces’ slander of the Red Army. Under the influence of this work, foreign journalists such as Smedley and Strong went deep into “Red China” and left a series of classic reports on the Chinese revolution.

“Red Star Shines on China” records the glorious history of the Chinese Communists’ struggle for national independence and national rejuvenation. Since its completion, it has been published in multiple Chinese translations and has even been included in textbooks and has been included in the ministry’s edition of Chinese textbooks. Edgar Snow passed away in 1972, and it will be more than 50 years ago in 2023. His works will officially enter the “public edition” field in 2023, which means that “Red Star Shines on China” will usher in a larger-scale With publication and translation, this classic will also welcome more readers. In fact, since the publication of “Red Star Shines on China”, Snow has revised the book many times, and the Chinese translations published in different periods also show different characteristics. It can be said that the writing and Chinese translation of “Red Star Shines on China” are also part of history.

Shining Red Star, Immortal Classic—A Brief Discussion on the Writing and Translation of

“Red Star Shines Over China” translations from different periods. File pictures

1 A classic, revised many times

In October 1937, the London Gollancz Company published the first English single version of “Red Star Shines on China”. It was reprinted three times that month and was still in short supply. In January 1938, Random House in the United States published “Red Star Shining on China”. The first printing of 15,000 copies was sold out within three weeks. Once “Red Star Shines on China” was published, it caused a sensation in countries all over the world. According to the changes in the international situation and the response from all walks of life to “Red Star Shines on China”, Snow made several important revisions to the book.

When “Red Star Shines on China” was published, China’s Anti-Japanese War was about to enter a stalemate stage. In May 1938, Mao Zedong published the famous “On Protracted War”, and Snow immediately added Chapter 13 “The Shadow on the Rising Sun” when Random House republished “Red Star Shines on China” in the fall of 1938. Snow believes that Japan’s “rising sun” will not rise, but will fall on the Chinese battlefield. In a newly added chapter, Snow also introduced the protracted war and guerrilla warfare advocated by the Communist Party of China, conveying to the outside world the prospects and confidence that China would win the war against Japan.

Based on the changes in the international anti-fascist war situation and the reaction of the Soviet Union and the United States to “Red Star Shines on China” since 1937, Snow revised the book again in 1944. In the long postscript to this edition, Snow made a prophetic outlook on the situation in China. He pointed out that Japan’s defeat was a foregone conclusion. In the long-term war of resistance, the Chinese Communist Party had won “huge prestige” and “time has confirmed the legitimacy of the ideals for which these revolutionaries fought and sacrificed.” He saw that China People have much higher trust in the Communist Party than in the Kuomintang. Fulbright, who later served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, once mentioned that Snow’s analysis of China’s situation in the postscript to the 1944 edition of “Red Star Over China” was true and reliable, but the U.S. government rejected Snow’s advice. For this reason, the U.S. The people paid a high price.

After the end of World War II, Snow visited China three times in 1960, 1964 and 1970, and revised “Red Star Shines on China” twice in 1968 and 1971. Snow changed the tense of the original book into the past tense, added, deleted, and rewritten some contents based on new materials collected during three visits to China. He also added more than 10,000 words of notes and added a large number of new chapters in the appendix. The content includes unpublished parts of the conversation between Mao Zedong and Snow in 1936 and more than 100 biographies. Against the background of the Cold War, the new edition of “Red Star Shines on China” remains popular and has become an important window for Western readers to understand China.

It is worth mentioning that in 1956, American scholars discovered Snow’s notebook from his 1936 interview in northern Shaanxi in Snow’s personal archives. Many of the contents were “never used materials” in “Red Star Shines on China” . The interview notes were later published by Harvard University as “Red China Essays.” This essay has high historical value and is called the “continuation” of “Red Star Shines on China” by academic circles.

Snow died of illness in Switzerland on February 15, 1972. According to Mrs. Wheeler Snow’s recollection, Snow left a note at the last moment of his life that read, “I love China and I would like to leave a part of me there after my death.” According to this will, some of Snow’s ashes were buried at the former site of Yenching University where he once taught, which is now the Weiming Lake of Peking University.

2 Three representative Chinese translations

“Red Star Shines on China” has so far published at least ten full Chinese translations, three of which are worth highlighting.

In February 1938, “The Journey to the West” published by Shanghai Fushe was the earliest Chinese translation of Snow’s work. This translation is the result of a collective translation by 12 translators under the auspices of Hu Yuzhi. After the fall of Shanghai in November 1937, Hu Yuzhi received the sample book of “Red Star Shines on China” from Snow, completed the translation in just two months, and published it publicly under the name “Fushe”. Snow wrote a preface to the Chinese translation and published some photos that were not included in the English version. In order to avoid the publication censorship of the Kuomintang, Fushe used the title “A Journey to the West”. Since Fan Changjiang’s “The Northwest Corner of China” had already had a wide impact at that time, most readers could tell at a glance that “The Journey to the West” tells the story of “Red China”.

As mentioned above, during the writing process of “Red Star Shines on China”, China’s political situation underwent tremendous changes. First, the Xi’an Incident shocked both China and foreign countries, and then the Japanese army brazenly launched the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. By the time the book was officially published in October 1937, The second situation of cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party and the all-out war of resistance has been formed. Therefore, Snow made some deletions in the original text when he handed the sample book to Hu Yu, so there is a considerable difference in content between the Fushe version of “The Journey to the West” and Gollancz’s original version. The “Collected Translations of Hu Yu” published in 1999 included the proofread version of Fushe’s version of “The Journey to the West”, correcting some translation and factual errors in the original translation.

In 1979, Dong Leshan’s translation published by Sanlian Bookstore continued to use the title of “A Journey to the West”. This translation is based on the 1937 Gollancz edition and restores the original appearance of Chapter 12 and 57 sections of Journey to the West. It also includes Snow’s 1938 preface for the Fushe edition and Hu Yuzhi’s 1979 translation. The preface was written, but it was abridged when it was published. Dong Leshan is a famous translator in my country. His translation is accurate and smooth, and it became very popular after it was published. 1.65 million copies were published within two years. In 1984, “Snow’s Collected Works (Volume 2)” published by Xinhua Publishing House was a reprint of this translation, but some contents were revised.

In the process of publishing the triplicate translation, Fan Yong, who was working at the People’s Publishing House at the time, played a key role. According to Dong Leshan’s recollection, Fan Yong’s original idea was to check and reprint the Fushe translation based on the work of Hu Yuzhi and other senior translators. However, due to factors such as the original text mentioned above, the editor and translator were troubled. Feeling that “this project is too big, it would be easier to re-translate it”, so the later triplicate translation was produced.

The translation by Li Fangzhun and Liang Min published by Hebei People’s Publishing House in 1992 is the most comprehensive translation of “Red Star Shines on China” to date. This translation is based on the 1972 Pelican edition (1977 enlarged edition), and includes all the unpublished parts of Snow’s conversations with Mao Zedong, the chronology of the Chinese revolution, and bibliographic abstracts that Snow added, and is included in Fei Zhengqing’s “Red Star” Illuminating China”, as well as the preface and postscript written by Snow in 1944, 1968 and 1971. The above content totals more than 100,000 words, which has not been included in previous Chinese translations and deserves attention.

In addition to the above three representative Chinese translations, the two editions of “The Journey to the West” translated and published by Nanyue Publishing House and Wide Angle Mirror Publishing House in Hong Kong, China, around 1975 are also worthy of attention. As mentioned above, Snow added Chapter 13 “The Shadow on the Rising Sun” in the 1938 revised edition. Among the many translations, “The Journey to the West” translated by Yiyu and published by Rapids Press in 1949 and This supplementary chapter was included in “The Long March of 25,000 Miles” co-translated by Shi Jiakang and others published by Qiming Bookstore in 1949. In addition, there are many important abridged translations of “Red Star Shines on China”, such as “Foreign Correspondents’ Impressions of the Northwest” translated by Wang Fushi and others in 1937, which is called the “prototype version” of “The Journey to the West”.

What deserves special attention is “Mao Zedong’s Conversation with Snow in 1936” compiled and finalized by Wu Liping in 1979. This booklet contains chapters 4, 5 and part of chapter 3 of “Red Star Shines on China”. Wu Liping is a famous Marxist theorist and translator in China. He was Snow’s translator when he interviewed Mao Zedong. As a person involved, his preface for this booklet was of great importance in re-editing the translation and adding annotations. research value.

In 2020, “Red Star Shines on China” was included in the reading guidance catalog for primary and secondary school students. In order to adapt to the reading habits of primary and secondary school students, Changjiang Literature and Art Publishing House published a new translation. The translator is Wang Tao, Snow’s daughter Xi’an Snow and Beijing Professor Wen Rumin from the university wrote a preface to the new translation, and some chapters of the translation were subsequently selected as supporting reading textbooks for the eighth grade of junior high school Chinese language (Part 1).

Shining Red Star, Immortal Classic—A Brief Discussion on the Writing and Translation of

Edgar Snow file photo

3 Chang translated Chang Xin’s “Red Star Shines on China”

Since the publication of Dong Leshan’s translation by Sanlian Bookstore in 1979, academics, readers, and even the living historical figures mentioned in “Red Star Shines on China” have published many research and textual research articles on issues related to the book, in order to improve The quality of the translation of “Red Star Shines on China” has laid the foundation.

Snow himself recalled many times that when he was interviewing in northern Shaanxi, some names of people and places were not recorded accurately enough, and the Weishi Pinyin that was popular at the time was used, which made translation more difficult.

Take the name of a person as an example. In the third section of the fourth chapter of “Red Star Shines on China”, Mao Zedong recalled that he often discussed knowledge with a student named “Chu Hsun-pei” when he was working in the Peking University Library. In the past translations, it was mostly translated as “Zhu Shunbai” “(i.e. Zhu Qianzhi), but as a surname, “Chu” can have many transliterations in Weishi Pinyin such as Zhu, Chu, Ju, Qu, District, etc. According to research by scholars, what Mao Zedong is talking about here is actually another The character “Di Shengbai”. The correction of this detail will be helpful to the study of Mao Zedong’s early experiences.

For another example, Snow mentioned in Section 6 of Chapter 4 that in 1931, when studying the anti-encirclement and suppression campaign in the Jiangxi Soviet Area, he referred to a pamphlet entitled “The Current Situation of the Communist Party of China”, written by “Yang Chien”. Past translations transliterated the author as “Yang Jian”, but the identity of “Yang Jian” was mostly unclear. After verification by scholars, the “Yang Chien” here is actually Yang Quan, that is, Yang Xingfo. In 1931, Yang Xingfo went to Jiangxi for inspection and later published an article “The Current Situation of the Communist Party of China” in Shanghai’s English newspaper “Zilin Xibao”, which allowed the outside world to see the true situation in Jiangxi’s Soviet area. It was this article that made Snow determined Determined to go to “Red China” to find out what happened.

Snow is a journalist with an international perspective, so “Red Star Shines on China” contains many foreigners, institutions, newspapers and periodicals that have been active in China since modern times. It should be noted that these nouns often have fixed Chinese names and should not be translated literally into English. For example, in the second section of Chapter 6, “Findley Andrew of the China International Disaster Relief Committee” appears. Who is Findlay Andrew? Probably no one knows it, but the Chinese name “An Xianjin” that Andrew gave himself has many records in modern historical documents. In addition, searching for “China International Disaster Relief Committee” will probably yield nothing. In fact, the organization Snow mentioned here is the famous “Huayang Relief Society” in modern Chinese history. It should be said that Snow’s discussion of the success of the Chinese Communist Party is based on the background of modern world history. Therefore, the translation of this work should also strive to be historic.

Reading “Red Star Shines on China”, it is not difficult to find that Snow’s writing is very sharp. He is proficient in Chinese and often uses homophones and puns in his reports to express certain hidden meanings. For example, the title of the third section of Chapter 1, “Some Han Bronzes”, was often translated literally as “Han Dynasty Bronze” in past translations. If not connected with the context, such a title would be confusing at first glance. The author speculates that the “Han Dynasty bronze” here may be related to Zhang Xueliang. Zhang Xueliang’s nickname is “Han Qing”. Snow here may want to hint to readers that in addition to “Pastor Wang” from the CCP, Marshal Zhang Xueliang also played a key role in helping him enter the Soviet area in northern Shaanxi. “Red Star Shines on China” is a documentary literature with historical themes. While ensuring the accuracy of translation, if the style can be taken into consideration, the reading experience of this classic will be more three-dimensional.

Looking back at history, the book “Red Star Shines on China” can still continue to arouse the interest of readers and the attention of academic circles nearly a century after its publication, which shows its classic nature. I believe that with the joint efforts of translators, scholars and readers, “Red Star Shines on China” will be constantly translated and updated, making the classic shine with new light.

“Guangming Daily” (November 04, 2023, page 12)

责编:张倩 ]

The article is in Chinese

Tags: Shining Red Star Immortal Classic discussion writing translation Red Star Shines China_Guangming .com


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