Veteran translator releases English version of Kiều

March 30, 2020 - 13:05

At the age of 88, translator Dương Tường has introduced his first book in English - a Vietnamese literature work entitled Kiều. 


Translator Dương Tường releases his new book Kiều in English at age of 88. Photo Phạm Xuân Nguyên

HÀ NỘI - At the age of 88, translator Dương Tường has introduced his first book in English - a Vietnamese literature work entitled Kiều. 

The book has a hardcover with illustrations by established artists such as Nguyễn Quân, Đặng Xuân Hòa, Trần Lương and Nguyễn Công Cừ.

Kiều, is a masterpiece by Nguyễn Du (1766 -1820) who was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Figure in 2003. 

Translator Tường spent two and a half years translating Kiều into English.

"I really wanted to translate Kiều into English," said the translator. "I prayed to Nguyễn Du to ask him to allow me to do it. It took me more than two years pecking on the keyboard with fingers to relearn and translate Kiều."

The translator felt an urge to relearn Nguyễn Du’s chief work, finding in it a way to repay his debt to his beautiful mother tongue and to honour Nguyễn Du’s great efforts to enrich it.

Because of his heavily impaired eyesight, he needed help to read. For half a year he and a student, the daughter of one of his son’s friends, went through the story, discovering new meanings and nuances in 3,254 verses. 

"He put himself to the test that ended all tests. First reversing his usual course, going Vietnamese - English instead of English – Vietnamese: the errant wordsmith back to roots," former Editor-in-Chief of Việt Nam News Nguyễn Công Khuyến wrote in the preface. 

"Second, choosing for his subject one of the biggest monuments in Vietnamese literature, a masterpiece of all times - the immortal Kiều by Nguyễn Du. In other words, Dương Tường succeeded in introducing Nguyễn Du to Shakespeare."

He previously worked with Vietnam News Agency's Cultural and Social Affairs at Domestic Desk and then at the Commission for Investigation into US War Crimes in Việt Nam. 

He is also a translator, poet and art critic. He has turned into Vietnamese at least 60 big titles from France, Russia, England, the Americas, Germany, Austria, Japan, South Africa and many other countries, whose authors include twelve Nobel Prize winners.

Topping the list are Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Magaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, Claude Simon’s The Flanders Road, and The Tin Drum by Günther Grass, along with works by Shakespeare.

To also added five collections of his own poems and a hefty collection of his essays.

Kiều has been into translated into nearly 20 foreign languages. The first was in French in 1884. 

The book can be bought at Nhã Nam Book Store. VNS