Chinese Translation of James Joyce Opus is a Best Seller

February 07, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


It took Dai Congrong, a renowned literature professor, eight years, multiple dictionaries and much despair to translate Finnegans Wake into Chinese. But all that work paid off when the initial Chinese run of 8000 books sold out in just weeks.  

"It was dull and depressing during the first two years," 41 year old Dai Congrong said. "I was also starting to have doubts about the project because I'd spent two years on the book but not a single word was translated."

One of the biggest battles in the translation was Joyce’s use of made-up words that didn’t have a direct translation into Chinese.  This battle led to two years of preparation and six years of actual translation.  

Dai continued her uphill battle despite her husband not supporting her project, "He thought that despite the time and energy I needed to put into it, it would not make much money because the book is too difficult for an average person."

The translation gained Dai tremendous accolades from bloggers in China. One blogger, Yao Zhenghua said, "Oh my God! How admirable Dai Congrong is! How was she able to continue translating one book for eight years?" 

Needless to say, Dai’s eight years of hard work in translating Finnegans Wake seems to be paying off.


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