China Seminar | 13 September 2012

Translators midst Magpies and Nightingales: The Story of Xianyi and Gladys Yang

Daniel W. Y. Kwok Daniel W. Y. Kwok

Master translators of Chinese and Western classics as well as modern literature, Yang Xianyi 杨宪益 and Gladys (Margaret Tayler) Yang 戴乃迭 lived an extraordinary life through China’s revolutionary decades. The couple’s playful idealism, devotion to one another, love for China, and personal trials throughout decades of bureaucratic regimentation and Maoist revolution which boasted more magpies (scribes of going coin) than nightingales (authentic voices of the self) help pose the question whether they themselves were either or both.

Daniel Kwok is professor emeritus of history at UHM, where since 1961 he served at intervals as Director of Asia Studies, Chair of the Department of History, Director of the Center of Chinese Studies, founder of the Gannett/Freedom Forum Asia Fellowships for Journalists while offering courses in Chinese intellectual history, the general history of China, Asian Civilizations, and World History. He has held visiting distinguished professorships at University of Hong Kong, Nanyang University and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. An honorary professor of the Committee on Humanities Research of the Chinese National Education Commission, Kwok was also a Senior Fellow (1968-69) and a Senior Adjunct Fellow (2008-09) at the East-West Center. He publishes mainly in Chinese intellectual history.