Renowned translator Yang Yi dies at 103

Updated: Jan 29, 2023 Print
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Yang Yi. [Photo/Weibo account of Yilin Publishing House]

Renowned litterateur and translator Yang Yi died at 8:30 pm on Friday at the age of 103, Yilin Publishing House announced via Weibo.

Yang was born in Tianjin in 1919 and went to the China-West Girls' School. She watched foreign movies with her classmates and practiced English as a daily hobby. This laid a solid foundation for her mastery of the Chinese and English languages.

She wrote to Chinese writer Ba Jin and in their correspondence she was encouraged to pursue a career in writing. She began publishing her works in 1936.

In 1938 she published a poem containing anti-Japanese elements. To avoid arrest by Japanese soldiers, she left Japanese-occupied Tianjin and went through Hong Kong and Vietnam before finally arriving in Southwest China's Kunming to study at Southwest Associated University. "The moment we re-entered our homeland, everyone burst into tears," she recalled in an interview with China Central Television which aired on Jan 22.

At university, she was advised to change her major to English from Chinese by author Shen Congwen, who lent her many books on translation. Ba Jin also encouraged her in her endeavors.

Huxiaoshanzhuang, the Chinese name of Wuthering Heights, was her first notable translation.

She also wrote many original works which were translated into multiple languages and published overseas. Her efforts greatly influenced the development of Chinese contemporary literature.

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