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Language and Literature

The 12th activity of the 2nd EU-China International Literary Festival was held on May 27 at the Yanjiyou Bookstore in Changning District, Shanghai. Noemi Laszlo, the Hungarian poet and literary translator, Svet Di Nahum, the Bulgarian novelist, Zouzou, the Chinese literary editor and writer, and Zhou Jianing, the novelist and literary translator, discussed with the audience on the theme of “Language and Literature”.

As literature is an art derived from language, the relationship between these two is also an important issue in reading and writing. Firstly, four writers were asked to talk about their favorite linguistic styles of certain writers and the reason why they appreciate them.

Svet Di Nahum, a novelist from Bulgaria, most admires Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese writer, because Qu Yuan had combined poetic sentiment, philosophy and literature together in a form of poetry. In Nahum’s novel Raptus, the protagonist quoted Qu Yuan’s poem at the climax, producing a very good effect. The Chinese writer Zhou Jianing likes clear and accurate language. Comparing the difference between Chinese and English, she thinks that English emphasizes the beauty of sound and rhythm while Chinese focuses on the visual one. The Hungarian poet Noemi Laszlo agrees with Zhou, because she learns language through hearing many times. Her mother tongue, Hungarian, is a poetic and very compact language with strong musicality. She appreciates a Hungarian writer most, Sandor. The reason is that she thinks she is similar to Shandor, they both writing serious poetry and children-oriented stories. When Zouzou talked about her favorite literary language, she divided it into three stages. In the first stage, when she began to try writing, she use the language of French new novel to strengthen her own expression in order to abandon the influence of textbooks. At that time, French new novel advocated the use of nouns and verbs to describe the world and the prevention of emotional words to reduce self emotions. In the second stage, she was fond of Nabokov whose language was extremely complicated. In the third stage, she, under the influence of young people, turned to enjoy Carver’s works. All these three language forms created an impact on her.

After the discussion mentioned above, they started the topics that how writers polish their language skills in their works. Zhou Jianing stated that translating literary works could polish her language.In order to maintain the beauty of the original language as much as possible, the translator needs to distinguish the subtle differences between words among two languages and accurately determine the position words placed. Therefore, she is very careful in writing. This is how she polishes the language. Svet Di Nahum believes that the language expresses the writer himself. Language is universal and very personal as well as writers could form their own style through it. Zouzou told us her attempt at various styles after her training based on the French new novel. In her new book, “Yellow Critics”, she gave different characters their distinctive language styles. When she taught creative writing, she asked students from colorful industries to use their own professional language to describe their thoughts, achieving very interesting results. Noemi Laszlo does not think the language is a collection of massive information. She feels that language should be treated as a kind of life or an existence. Some languages are very mysterious and some languages have undergone some changes in their own development. Most languages are of an age, and poets can use their works to convey the language spirit of the times they live in. When she is writing, she focuses on inspiration, writing in a short time normally without many modifications.

The third issue is how writers solve the conflict between form and content when they are writing. Noemi Laszlo mentioned the form and content of poetry as a two-sided issue. On the one hand, pursuing the rhythm of poetry may minimize its significance. On the other hand, one cares too much about the meaning and logic of poetry may undermine its transparency and gracefulness. So it is important to strike a balance between form and content. Zouzou cares more about the content of the work. The many years of editorial experience enables her to easily identify those works that use fancy forms to cover up the lack of content. She believes that the form is difficult to withstand the heavy content. For Svet Di Nahum, he thinks that the conflict between form and content plays the most important role in writing. He also mentioned the issue of fast literature and strongly disagreed with this popular form. While from Zhou Jianing’s perspective, there will be no dilemma between form and content totally if writing is a real activity.

At last, four writers started to answer audience’s questions, involving the relationship between the structuralism and the format of the works, the differences between the form of the novel and the film, the relationship between the literary criticism and the creation. I believe the statement of the four writers and their wonderful answers today will inspire every audience participating in the event.