Noted translator of Chinese classics dies at 94

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The Independent Culture

Poet Yang Xianyi, who translated numerous Chinese classics into English, died in Beijing Monday at the age of 94, state press reported.

The report on Shanghai's Xinmin Evening News website did not give a cause of death but Yang had reportedly been suffering from cancer.

In September, he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Translators Association of China.

Yang was born in the eastern coastal city of Tianjin in January 1915 and studied English at Oxford in 1936, where he met and later married Gladys Taylor.

The two returned to China in 1940 and together formed a prolific translating team, mostly working at the Foreign Languages Press, a state-run publishing company based in Beijing.

Besides translating Chinese classics such as "The Dream of the Red Mansions," "The Scholars," and the "Selected Works" of 20th century writer Lu Xun into English, the Yangs also translated Western works into Chinese.

Such translations included Homer's "Odyssey," Aristophanes's "The Birds and Peace" and Virgil's "Ecologues."

Yang was also a poet and fierce government critic.

Besides finding himself in political trouble during the "anti-rightist" movement of the late 1950s, Yang suffered during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and was a strident critic of the government's bloody crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.

Gladys Yang died in 1999.

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