Sartre / Cultures of Defeat [II]

Before diving back into La Mort dans l’Âme / Troubled Sleep, a couple of observations about Chinese attitudes toward Sartre:

1. La Mort dans l’Âme , to my knowledge, has yet to be translated into Chinese.  (Anhui Wenyi Chubanshe, just maybe, has done so, but it appears that this welcome publication [via Douban] is just a collection of short stories rather than an immense trilogy or a portion thereof.)  Certainly it would make a stunning companion to much of the World War II-era literature in Chinese, buttressing satirical treatments of the War of Resistance such as Fortress Besieged.  It might also act as a type of stringent, or open a passageway, for further publication and discussion of Chinese literature dealing with collaboration and defeat.  The translation of the title, in any case, is 《自由之路》第三部《心灵之死》.  Any additional leads on the existence (or non-existence, or incipient existence) of this book in Chinese would be most welcome!

2. In June 2005, in the orgiastic build-up to the 60th anniversary commemorations of the “victory” in World War II/the War of Resistance, the Central Academy of Drama staged a production of Sartre’s 1946 drama, Morts sans sépulchre (Death Without Burial). (Basic info on the school is available here, and a previous performance of a different Sartre drama for their 2004 graduation is discussed here.)  Interestingly enough, this play does depict French resistance guerrillas locked in more orthodox types of conflict, and certainly more in accordance with the Chinese mythology of the 抗战.  A couple of sources on Chinese reception of the performance are available here and here.

3. In searching for Chinese discussion of La Mort dans l’Âme , I ran across this completely fascinating discussion of the past, present, and future of Chinese literature with the brilliant mind of Hu Fayun (胡发云) and interviewer Li Jing(李静).  Wow!  (Here Sartre’s subtitle for Vol. III gets borrowed by a Chinese writer in a whole new context, for a completely different purpose.)  Here’s a little sample:

◎胡:文学是一种关涉人类心灵的活动,当越来越多的人们只生活在表面,只生活在今天,只生活在与心灵无关的信息之海和欲望之海中,文学的处境是可以想 见的。但是这已经不是文学的悲哀。19世纪末,有人说:上帝死了。20世纪末,有人说:革命死了。在一个漫长的物质主义时代开始之际,是不是会有人说:心 灵死了?

and a bit more, with some frank talk on Cultural Revolution thrown in for good measure…

◎ 李:您怎样获得把握现实的这种广度和深度?这种中国当代作家中少见的“外向性”和精神现实的指向性?
◎胡:我的这些小说都是写当 下的,不知怎么,写著写著,就写到过去了。很长一段时间以来,读小说、看影视,我常常会有一些古怪的念头跳出来:这个人(如果他有相应的年龄)十多年前是 什么样的?“文革”的时候他在干什么?在一些重大的社会变动时刻,他是一种怎样的状态?三年饥荒时期他能吃饱还是挨饿?可惜的是,常常不得而知。没有由来 的人物是可疑的,与历史隔绝的现实是虚假的。

Apologies for the inconsiderate lack of translation!  I will do what I can to ameliorate…

4. Simone de Beauvoir’s 1955 trip to China (which lasted about 45 days) is analyzed within the context of an overall illustrated biography by this Chinese author on 163.com.   Perhaps there is some great treasure trove of sources in the 外交部档案馆 or elsewhere that gives some insights as to how she was steered within China?  And has her memoir from the experience, prodigious and occasionally irksome, but always proud, been made available in Chinese?

Questions, questions, questions.

5. Andrew N. Leak’s brief biography of Sartre, which has been my favorite re- introduction to the philosopher so far, has some illuminating discussion of the protagonist of Troubled Sleep on page 40.

Racy!  Action!  Double biography!
Racy! Action! Double biography!

6. And, although I love Berghahn Press to death, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a couple of egregious Chinese/pinyin errors in the October 2004 issue of “Sartre Studies.”   The text, published in Qingdao in 2003, is entitled<第三性:萨特与波伏瓦> or Di san xing: Sate yu Bofuwa [The Third Sex: Sartre and de Beauvoir]. Unfortunately, the journal editors thought that Di San Xing was the name of the author and that Qingdao, that sparkling Germanesque port on the north China coast, is spelled Quigdgo.  Would Sartre approve?  But a bad citation is better than no citation, I suppose.

Back to Japanese war crimes…


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