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Words Across Borders

Nowadays when globalization and digitalization have penetrated the world, we have more access to diverse literature masterpieces of different countries and have a sip of other cultures. It is language that bridge the gap between each other. Now, writers can get in touch with readers all over the world much more conveniently. On May 26, 2018, German writer Christian Y.Schmidt, Spanish writer Jaime Santirso and Chinese writer He Tongbin and poet Li Dewu from Suzhou discussed about the topic “beyond the boundaries” and made responses to questions “future trends in readership” and “how to attract overseas readers”

When asked about “future trends in literature and reader’s favorite themes”, Christian Y.Schmidt, German fiction and non-fiction writer, said, “From the view of globalization, the world in literature is undergoing the same trend. And there is chance that future will only have on kind of literature though the path down to it is still long.” However, at the present phase, the effect that language has in literature is still considerable and literature in different languages differ from each other significantly. So the interpretation is essential as well as challenging. It is no piece of cake to translate the works into another language accurately. Christian said that his creation alone among the 1.3 billion people had a hard time finding a proper translation publisher. In the end, his wife translated the first three chapters so that Chinese version of his book can be published. There are still obstacles for readers to fully understand the real meaning of literature in other languages. That’s why many local non-mainstream works do not usually have the luck to be translated well to another language version.

Nanjing essayist and literary critic He Tongbin held the opinion that literature is changing in this ever-changing world. To pursue the origination, the discourse system of Chinese literature itself is constructed by absorbing Western literature. As a result, Chinese literature is westernized, which approved that the boundaries among literature is blurred. We used to say “novel has gone”. And the reality has proven that the literary concept constructed by modernism is indeed broken. Technology and media revolution have brought great impact on literature. We have seen the rise of internet literature, renaissance of sci-fi works, the rise of non-fiction and the withering of fiction. Maybe in the future, literature will become a tradition. With rapid evolution of media, paper literature is faced with extinction as well. Audience at present shared the same feeling. Compared to the e-reading, paper literature and physical movie are put more attention.

Poet and literary critic Li Dewu agreed with the importance of literary origin, globalization, and evaluative thinking. At the same time, he reckoned that some parts of western culture are also from China, based on which the poet raised up the opinion “the development of Chinese literature comes from the recognition of Chinese traditional culture”. He thought that the trend of the future will be the blending and interpenetration of cultures. Therefore, any culture that aims high to be more prosperous should embrace more and better categories of arts. At the same time, literature represents the whole journey that an ethnic group has gone through. Each culture will encompass the essence of the nation. On this level, Chinese literature has not abandoned its characteristics of its own. It has its own soul. It is also the lack of recognition that make the modern Chinese literature less glorious than Chinese traditional literature. How to regain the status it used to have is what the Chinese readers and writers have to think about. It is safe to say that recognition of Chinese culture can be a really important outset of the development of Chinese literature. Speaking of how to deal with new types of literature and fast-food reading, he showed us another way of thinking: literature has its own way of living in different eras. When it is an era of art explosion, the evaluation of literature has to be re-estimated

At last, Spanish poet and journalist Jaime Santirso talked about this “grand topic”. As an optimist, he thought that literature should be universal and valuable. It doesn’t matter that what your nationality is or which country or person the book you are reading belongs to. What matters is all the connections you have created during the process of reading. We write to create additional value and share it with others. Despite all restrictions, things like feelings and thoughts can be universally empathized. The society we are living in is communicating itself. And the literature in west and China can be complementary in both ways. Globalization makes it convenient to access to more literature. It may not be something that any one of us can create, but it takes a lot if one wants to embark on this journey of literature. By “a lot”, it means all the time and energy that you are willing to put in literature. Although there is a fierce fight between modern literature and social media, we still keep our fingers crossed. It is hard but also important to get down the road of literature. literature will never die because there are always readers. And the essence of literature itself lies in reading. When you feel like reading, you may just as well read.