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Gao Xingjian

Gao Xingian was born in 1940 in Jiangxi province in eastern China. He majored in French literature at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, graduating in 1962. The publication of his Preliminary Discussions on the Art of Modern Fiction (Huacheng, 1981; banned 1982) and the staging of his controversial plays Absolute Signal (1982), Bus Stop (1983; banned 1983) and Wild Man (1985) at the Beijing People’s Theatre displeased the authorities and he was subjected to various forms of harassment. In late 1987 he relocated to Paris where he has been able to devote himself to his writing and painting. Gao’s winning the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature meant that it was the first time the prize had been awarded for a body of Chinese-language writings. Among Gao’s works, the novel Soul Mountain (HarperCollins 2000) was singled out for special acclaim by the Swedish Academy. Gao’s other English-language fiction include the novel One Man’s Bible (HarperCollins 2002) and a collection of short stories, Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather (HarperCollins 2004). Mabel Lee was born in 1939 of Chinese parents in northern New South Wales, Australia. She majored in Chinese studies at the University of Sydney where she obtained her Ph.D. in 1966 and accepted an academic appointment in the same year. Her research publications focused on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Chinese intellectual history until the 1990s when she began translating the works of two contemporary writers, Yang Lian and Gao Xingjian. In 2001 Lee received the NSW Premier’s Prize for Translation and the PEN Medallion, and in 2003 she received a Centenary Medal “for service to Australian society and literature.”

Winter 2004

In the Park

By Gao Xingjian, translated by Mabel Lee

From Chinese.    I haven’t strolled about in a park for a long time. I never have the time to spare, or the inclination anymore.” “It’s the same with everyone. […]