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Anthology of Taiwanese short stories now available in French

  • Date:2019-02-01
Anthology of Taiwanese short stories now available in French

To encapsulate the spectrum of modern Taiwanese literature, the four-volume "Anthologie historique de la prose romanesque taïwanaise modern," or "A Historical Anthology of Modern Taiwanese Romantic Prose," edited by Taiwan-France Cultural Award laureates Isabelle Rabut and Angel Pino are now available in the French language.


The first volume is called "Le petit bourg aux papayers (植有木瓜樹的小鎮)," meaning "A Small Town Planted with Papaya Trees." The title is taken from a story on class divide and colonial inferiority written in Japanese by Taiwanese Hakka writer Long Ying-zong (龍瑛宗).


The second volume, "Le cheval à trois jambes (三腳馬)," is named after a tale written by late author Cheng Ching-wen (鄭清文). The titular three-legged horse is used as a euphemism for those of Taiwanese heritage who worked for the Japanese colonial authorities. They were perceived as traitors and bore the blunt of public anger following the retrocession of Taiwan.


The third volume is called "De Fard et de Sang (彩妝血祭)," meaning "Rouged Sacrifice," revolves around the works of native Taiwanese writers during the 1940s and 1950s. The title is inspired by a short story by novelist Li Ang (李昂), who uses makeup as a metaphor for death and history repeating itself.


The fourth volume, "Félix s'inquiète pour le pays (四喜憂國)," collects some of the most iconic pieces of the last two decades of the 20th century, focusing on the works of indigenous writers and writers from immigrant Chinese families. The titular tale, "Felix Worries for the Country" by writer Chang Ta-chuen (張大春), looks at push and pull between the comfortable lives of residents of military dependents' villages and the loss of political consciousness.


The four-volume anthology, published by France's Librairie You Feng, collects a total of 32 pieces of iconic Taiwanese literature written between the Japanese colonial era and the end of the 20th century. It is the first French collection to span the whole development of modern Taiwanese literature and offers a window into a wide range of literary worlds for French readers.


Rabut, a professor at Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (The National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations), and Pino, a professor at Bordeaux Montaigne University, were both awarded the Taiwan-France Cultural Award in 2012.


They were chosen for their many years of work teaching Sinology at French universities, including many courses in Taiwan Studies, as well as their efforts to translate Taiwanese literature into French and raise awareness of it among French readers. The two consider the originality and excellence of Taiwanese literature to be deserving of just as much recognition in France as Taiwanese cinema.