By Yao Minji | March 4, 2016,
“The Chinese audience is generally less familiar with Shakespeare’s historical plays, but the fat, scruffy, boastful and cowardly knight Falstaff, Prince Hal’s partner in crime in “Henry VI” has nonetheless won over hearts and laughter despite the language barrier.
The Chinese translations of Shakespeare, both in print and on stage, go a long way back, and was first published as early as in 1900s and staged in 1910s.
The earliest translators include Lin Shu (1852-1924), who were among the first Chinese intellectuals to translate and introduce Western literature, including “The Lady of the Camellias,” the Sherlock Holmes series, and works of H Rider Haggard, among many others.
Astonishingly, this translator and poet who has translated more than 180 novels from a dozen different languages speaks no foreign language at all. He always works with a partner who translates the story to him and then he writes in classic Chinese.
His translations are known for fluent and beautiful writing style and read just like a Chinese novel, yet often not too loyal to the original. In a time when Western novels were previously unseen and so different from classic Chinese novels, his translations were widely popular and often quickly sold out.