Qiantang River Bridges of Hangzhou

When I lived in Singapore, I mostly walked and took trains and buses (sometimes taxis). Now I’m in a bigger city, one that has a big river cutting through the middle of it, and (at least for now) I’m traveling by car from one half to the other for work. That means I’m crossing lots of bridges. Since I’m not driving, I can take photos!

They look different depending on the time of day and weather. For example, the butterfly-shaped Jiubao Bridge (which China Daily claims is the ‘most beautiful’ bridge in the city), is white in the daytime but changes to a shifting rainbow at night. I’ve got gifs to prove it!

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Editorial Office of Intelligent Computing at Zhejiang Lab

On January 3, 2023, I started work at Zhejiang Lab at the editorial office of Intelligent Computing: A Science Partner Journal.

My role, as a native speaker of English with a background in Computer Science and experience in academic publishing, is to help strengthen the reputation of the journal.

Zhejiang Lab (之江实验室) is a research institute established jointly by the Zhejiang Provincial Government, Zhejiang University, and Alibaba Group in September, 2017. (The name of the province is 浙江. That is, it uses a different ‘Zhe’ but the same ‘jiang’; the name of the lab is sometimes spelled ‘Zhijiang’.)

Intelligent Computing, launched in 2022, is an English-language Open Access Science Partner Journal published in affiliation with Zhejiang Lab and distributed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Want to know what my workplace is like? See below for some maps and photos of the lab campus.

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Sisyphe Books

There are English quotes and signs throughout this shop in a mall in Hangzhou, but I’m not sure I saw any books in English. I saw bilingual editions of the Harry Potter books, and LOTS of recognizable books translated from English and other European languages. I enjoyed looking around and soaking up the quiet atmosphere of words in ink on paper.

So many books!

西西弗书店 (Xīxī fú shūdiàn)
Founded in 1993, this chain of over 360 shops in 80 cities across China is named after Sisyphus in the Greek myth. The website explains:

What Sisyphus is engaged in is a continuous movement, without purpose, without success or failure, good or evil. This action seems to be ineffective, but it contains awesome power. In the sense of stoicism, and with a touch of sacrifice, we hope to be the Sisyphus of the book and culture industry.

I suppose that’s inspiring. Selling physical books in physical shops in the 21st century does seem like a thankless task, though Barnes & Noble seems to have come back from the brink.

Lin Feng Mountain

On New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend Siqi drove us up one of the tea mountains just outside of Hangzhou. We visited a lookout tower, marveled at patches of melting snow, and watched a magical sunset.

Having relocated from Singapore where it never gets cold, I have mixed feelings about winter, but I love living in a place surrounded by beautiful mountains!

See below for the best of the photos I took with my smartphone.

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What’s the best translation of Demons (aka Devils aka The Possessed)?

There are five in-print translations of Demons, seven in total.

  1. 1914 – Constance Garnett (various publishers)
  2. 1953 – David Magarshack (Penguin)
  3. 1962 – Andrew R. MacAndrew (Signet)
  4. 1992 – Michael R. Katz (Oxford)
  5. 1994 – Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Everyman’s Library, Vintage)
  6. 2008 – Robert A. Maguire (Penguin)
  7. 2017 – Roger Cockrell (Alma)

It took a while to figure out how many there were because they’re not all called Demons. Why not?

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Hello, Hangzhou!

On December 12, 2022, I got on a plane (for the first time since January 2020) to fly from Singapore to Hangzhou, China, where I will be working at Zhejiang Lab.

I quarantined comfortably for 5 full days in central Hangzhou at the Merchant Marco Hotel. See below for photos of the hotel and the 17 meals I ate while I was there.

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What’s the best translation of The Nine Cloud Dream?

I’ve now read this book three times. I’ve read the 2019 Fenkl translation twice and the 1922 Gale translation once. I haven’t read the out-of-print 1974 Rutt translation. The Fenkl translation is more faithful to the original text, but the Gale translation is okay. For more information on all three translations, visit We Love Translations: World Literature in English:

» What’s the best translation of The Nine Cloud Dream?

See below for a list of characters in The Nine Cloud Dream.

I’ve given the character names as spelled by Fenkl and Gale and also the English meanings as given by Fenkl and Gale. Fenkl uses Chinese-style names using archaic-feel Wade-Giles romanization and Gale uses Korean-style names mixed with English names. I’m pretty sure Fenkl is using the same names that Rutt used.

(Scholars have determined that the original was written in classical Chinese, not Korean Hangul, but I think Gale was using a Hangul source text.)

Beware spoilers! Knowing who the characters are is a bit like knowing the plot.

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How to say the names of years in English words

I saw this on Facebook today, though not for the first time.

Today it made me think of a Chinese friend who’s not always sure how to say years as words in English. I don’t blame her… You see, if answer “A” is a year—and not, like, a quantity of watermelons in a math problem—by default it absolutely does sound like “two zero two four [year]” in Chinese, although it’s also possible to say “two thousand and twenty-four [year]”.

How do we say the names of years in English? Turns out it’s complicated.

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What’s the best translation of The Master and Margarita?

These are the English translations of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita:

  1. 1967 – Mirra Ginsburg
  2. 1967 – Michael Glenny
  3. 1993 – Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor
  4. 1997 – Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
  5. 2006 – Michael Karpelson (out of print)
  6. 2008 – Hugh Aplin

It’s a short list compared to, like Don Quixote, which has like 20. I thought, aha, there are only six this time, so the research on this one should go pretty fast.

Well, yes; but actually, no.

I got tangled up in two related questions about the origins of the book:

  • Was Bulgakov’s draft of The Master and Margarita complete?
  • Are all the English translations of The Master and Margarita complete?

I didn’t want to stuff what turned out to be ~1500 words into the beginning of my post at We Love Translations. That post is about choosing which English translation to read.

» What’s the best translation of The Master and Margarita?

THIS post is about the answers to those two preliminary questions.

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What’s the best translation of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame?

You’ve seen the Disney movie. Maybe you’ve read the novel. But do you recognize the name Frederic Shoberl? Probably not.

He’s the guy who chose the title we now use to refer to Victor Hugo’s novel, which was originally titled Notre-Dame de Paris. Shoberl wasn’t the first translator (the first was the politically motivated William Hazlitt), but his version gets the credit for hitting the bestseller list in England in the 1830s. (Hazlitt’s title was: Notre-Dame: A Tale of the Ancien Regime. Yawn.)

More about the publication history of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame below.

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