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Yang Xianyi

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Yang Xianyi simplified Chinese: 杨宪益; traditional Chinese: 楊憲益; pinyin: Yáng Xiànyì; Wade–Giles: Yang Hsien-i; January 10, 1915 – November 23, 2009 was a Chinese literary translator, known for rendering many ancient and a few modern Chinese classics into English, including Dream of the Red Chamber

Born into a wealthy banking family in Tianjin, he was sent to Merton College, Oxford to study Classics in 1936 There he married Gladys Tayler They had two daughters and a son who committed suicide in 1979

Yang and his wife returned to China in 1940, and began their decades long co-operation of introducing Chinese classics to the English-speaking world Working for the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing, a government-funded publisher, the husband and wife team produced a number of quality translations The works translated include classical Chinese poetry; such classic works as Dream of the Red Chamber, The Scholars, Liu E's Mr Decadent: Notes Taken in an Outing 老殘遊記, also known as The Travels of Lao Can, and some of Lu Xun's stories

Yang was also the first one to render the Odyssey into Chinese prose from the ancient Greek original He also translated Aristophanes's Ornithes, Virgil's Georgics, La chanson de Roland and Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion into Chinese

He narrowly escaped being labeled a "rightist" in 1957-58 for his frank speaking However, Yang and his wife Gladys were imprisoned for four years as "class enemies" in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution Gladys died in 1999

He was also noted for writing doggerels His autobiography, White Tiger, was published in 2003


  1. ^ "" in Chinese Xinhua News Agency 24 Nov 2009 
  2. ^ Levens, RGC, ed 1964 Merton College Register 1900-1964 Oxford: Basil Blackwell p 279 
  3. ^ Yang, Xiangyi, ed 2003 White Tiger - An Autobiography of Yang Xiangyi Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press p 220-70 
  4. ^ "Obituary: Yang Xianyi" The Telegraph UK 10 Dec 2009 

External links

  • China portal
  • Biography portal
  • Books portal
  • Geremie R Barmé March 2011 "Wine and Commemorating Yang Xianyi" China Heritage Quarterly 25 ISSN 1833-8461 

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Yang Xianyi

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