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From horror stories to fairy tales

Updated: 2015-08-31 07:49
By Peng Yining (China Daily)

During his four years at Cambridge, Ye Junjian developed an extensive network of relationships with the top British intellectuals of the day, including economist John Maynard Keynes and the writers Leonard Woolf and Stephen Spender.

Ye also became close to the playwright and polemicist J. B. Priestly, who often invited him to spend weekends at his house on the Isle of Wight and referred to him as "a Chinese member of my family".

Ye was keen to learn European languages, so during his vacations, he toured Western Europe and learned to speak and read Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.

During his breaks in Scandinavia, Ye fell in love with the works of Hans Christian Andersen, so he learned Danish and translated Andersen's fairy tales in a mammoth 16-volume series.

He spent 40 years continually re-introducing, re-translating and commenting on Andersen and his stories in China. Generations of Chinese children grew up reading Ye's translations of Andersen's work, although he sinicized the stories a little, such as changing The Little Mermaid to The Daughter of the Sea in Chinese.

In 1988, Ye was knighted by the Danish monarchy, which conferred the Order of the Dennebrog on him for his translations of Andersen's fairy tales.

(China Daily 08/31/2015 page4)

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