Q:Please share your stories between you and China.
A:In my early teen age I read the Romanesque biography about an outstanding Hungarian Scholar, Körösi Csoma Sándor. He was born in a little village not far away from my hometown. He lived in the 19th century, when the problem of ethno-genesis was of special interest to the European nations and particularly to Hungarians. The Seclers, a Hungarian ethnic group to which he belonged believed that they were derived from a branch of Attila’s Huns who had settled in Transylvania in the fifth century. Hoping to study the claim and to find the place of origin of his ancestors by studying language kinship, he set off to Asia in 1820. He originally aimed searching the “ancestral home” in Northern China,but due to various reason she ended up in Northern India, where he spent his lifetime studying the Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy. He intended to make his trip to Northern China via Lhasa(but actually he never made it). He was one of the first Europeans to master the Tibetan language and read two of the great encyclopedias of Tibetan Buddhist literature the Kangyur and theTangyur, which contained translations of Buddhist books. He created the first Tibetan-English dictionary, and the first Tibetan grammar. He is considered as the founder of Tibetology. He was even declared as a Bodhisattva (canonized as a Buddhist saint) in 1933 in Japan.
I was moved by his life story, his outstanding character, and his achievements.He made his thousand miles journey by foot, lived in Himalayan monasteries for years without any heat,or comfort, like an ascetic, he mastered nearly twenty languages. So it was amazing to me. I thought, I should follow him, I should become a Tibetologist.
Q:You have spent a long time in studying Chinese language and culture,so could you please tell us when and how you started it and made this your career?
A:First I started studying Tibetan language and culture at ELTE University of Budapest that was mainly focusing on Classical Buddhist texts. Later on I realized, that I am not so interested in Classical Buddhist texts,I am more interested in modern culture and literature.Then I decided to choose Chinese as a second language of study. The process of studying, the artistic world of the characters and the richness of the culture gave me an incredible joy. Thus my major energies went for studying Chinese, but since I spent years studying Tibetan as well, and I didn’t want to waste that knowledge, I looked for areas where I can combine what I have learned. I was always fond of literature.I was interested in modern issues, so I made my choice: contemporary Chinese literature. During my studies I was fortunate to get two long-term scholar ships in Beijing. When I was studying there I spent days and days in bookshops and libraries searching for good contemporary readings, and I brought tens of kilos of books home. Of course some Chinese friends also helped me in choosing the best writers. I started translating literature15 years ago, it was a very slow and hard process.Not to mention the difficulty of finding a publisher neither. This has now changed in the last years, also thanks to the cultural projects of Belt and Road Initiatives.
Q:How did you objectively show the readers the real Chinese culture in your work?
A:Given my interest for the contemporary Chinese literature, my most important work so far has been the translating, editing and publishing of a book entitled: Windows on Tibetan literature, containing twelve short stories written in Chinese and Tibetan language in the early nineties. This was the first such book published in Hungarian, for which I selected short stories by well known writers such as Alai, Sebo, ZhaxiDawa, Geyang, Yangzhen, and Yangtsokyi,PuntsogTashi, Dronbu Dorje etc.These works presented various aspects of traditional Tibetan life as well as the significant transformation of the society in the second half of the 20th century.Some of the stories are written in realistic style, but in some of the stories tradition and modernity, past and present,reality and fiction, time and space intermingle,sometimes leaving the reader with many open questions.I am currently working on a translation of Laozi’s Dao de jing , with the commentaries of Charles Q. Wu. This is a highly challenging and very interesting work.
On a completely different note I would mention that just recently came out my translation of Jackie Chan latest autobiography,which also offers insights to the modern life in China and Hong Kong.As you can see, it is quite a broad variety of topics and authors somehow reflecting my overall interest for China and its culture. I am looking forward for new authors, novels, and translations.
Q:Concerning your current study on Chinese culture and language,what are the difficulties and challenges?
A:As a translator my aim is to provide the readers translations that preserves the content, the style and the linguistic richness of the original, all this in the best possible Hungarian. I think this is the ambition of any serious translator.In order to achieve this, I need to constantly improve both my Chinese and Hungarian language skills. Altogether I have spent more than two years in China, I speak fairly good Chinese, and still the literary language poses many challenges. One can only overcome them with hard work and a lot of effort.The good thing is that these are exactly the type of challenges I am currently looking for.
Q:What do you think are the challenges and difficulties facing China in aspects of translating and publishing Chinese works in other countries.
A :I can only appreciate the efforts China recently puts into promoting Chinese literature in foreign countries. I believe Hungary was no exception when saying that the great values of the Chinese culture and literature were so far underrepresented abroad. This is more so for the contemporary literary works that could hardly reach the shelves of the local book stores. What might have been the reasons for this? Of course, financial constrains have always been there. The language barriers, the relatively small number of good translators is still an issue. The lack of good PR, building the image of China as a country with rich contemporary culture can also be among the main reasons. Enhancing the cooperation with publishers and translators as well as promotion of the best Chinese writers and their works will definitely make the difference.
Q:What opportunities do you think will be brought to China and your country by the Belt and Road Initiative?
A:Nowadays we can hear and read a lot in Hungary about the economic cooperation between the two countries,also in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. This is a very important area of course. In my view, the cooperation in the field of culture is equally important.Sharing with each other our cultural heritage will bring us closer and will help better understanding each other,thus making communication easier and more efficient. Through the mutual promotion of high quality literary works Chinese and Hungarian readers can better know each others’ country, can appreciate differences and similarities and this will have for sure a positive impact on further cooperation, in all aspects,for everyone’s benefit.
By Long Yingtai
By Gao Ming
By Bai Yansong
By Yang Jiang
By Da Bing
By Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee
By Liu Tong
By Publicity and Education Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department
By Helence Hanff
By Da Bing