XI'NA PEIHUA UNIVERSITY
   Home»News & Events
  Chinese Business Review: 86 –year old Sinologist Burton Watson Invited to Revisit Xi’an
                 

He translated “Historical Records” and Chuang Tzu is his favorite.
A 86-year-old American gentleman came all the way to Xi’an because he had come here 28 years ago and said: "Xi’an is fantastic and I hope I could visit here again."
This gentleman come to Xi’an again after 28 years because his Japanese friend Yamaguchi Hiro had promised him to be here if they have chance. They walked in the streets near the Taibai flyover, then got into a noodle shop and ordered some noodle & tufu to eat. The customers was all surprised by a la carte with a Chinese menu.
He is Burton Watson, a household name in US Sinology. He translated many classical Chinese history, philosophy, and poetry, like Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, "Book of Songs, Analects of Confucius," “Historical Records "," selected poems of Du Fu " Selected Poems of Su Tung Po., Cold Mountain 100 Poems ,Selected Poems of Li Bai, etc. He has made great contributions to the Chinese literatures for introducing Chinese classics to the English-speaking countries.


Dr. Watson walked in the streets of Xi’an and tried to recall what he had remembered in 1983 on this autumn day. It was so many people who invented him for discussions and lectures that he couldn’t squeeze any time for walking around Xi’an city in less than a week, of which he complained a bit.
Dr. Watson was born in 1925 and served in the U.S. Navy. In 1943, he was stationed in the South pacific during World War II. After being discharged from the U.S. Navy, he went to Columbia University in 1946 and earned a Ph.D. in 1956. He has received many awards including the Gold Medal Award of the Translation Center at Columbia University in 1979, the PEN Translation Prize in 1981. He worked as an English teacher at Doshisha University in Kyoto and as a research assistant at Kyoto University. He has also taught Chinese at Stanford and Columbia. He moved to Japan in 1973, where he remains to this day for more than 30 years.
He was invited to be in Xi’an again by Xi’an Peihua University, because the Director of International Exchange Center of this university, Qin Quan’an has translated one of his works which he had written after leaving China in 1983. The book was named “China At Last” and translated into “A journey of the heart in China” in Japanese.
Qin Quan’an said to reporters:” It is a pity that most Chinese people have slightest idea of Dr. Watson and his work”. His translation, which is not published yet, is to make Chinese people know of China in 1983 in the eyes of an American sinologist.
With the help of Qin Quan’an, the journalist of Chinese Business Review interviewed with Burton Watson. Although he had difficulties in communicating with Chinese, what he answered was concise and full of humors.
Here is the dialogue.
※ Being discharged from the army, he started to learn Chinese after World War II.
Journalist: In 1946, World War II has just ended and at that special era, you chose to study Chinese. I think there must be a very special story in it.
Burton Watson: When I served in the US army, I was stationed in the South Pacific in 1946, close of the Japan continent .So I became very interested in learning Japanese culture. Later, I found most of Japanese culture was originated from Chinese culture. So I turned to Chinese culture .Moreover, Japan was a defeated country while China was the victor. So I think Chinese culture is more worth studying. After World War II, I was discharged on the Navy and obtained a sum of money. As an ex-serviceman, I could choose a good university to attend. From then on, I started to learn Chinese.
Journalist: