Translation guru: Do what interests you

By Li Xiao and Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 4, 2017

Editor's note: He Zhaowu, a renowned historian and translator, was born in 1921 in Beijing. He attended the National Southwest Associated University (NSAU) in Kunming, southwest China from 1939 to 1946, and worked at the Institute of Historical Research of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for many years. In 1986, he became a professor at the Department of History in the School of Humanities, Tsinghua University, where he continued study on historical theories, cultural exchanges between Chinese and Western cultures, and the contemporary Western intellectual history.

On Dec. 22, 2016, He Zhaowu talked about his life and work during an exclusive interview with You can't expect this kind of meandering mood from a 95-year-old unless he's talking about past memories.


Mr. He got into translation during his college years. At the beginning, he simply wanted to "gain some pocket money." The first book he ever translated was Du Contrat Social (of the Social Contract or Principles of the Political Right) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which he referred to as the "bourgeoisie's bible of liberalism." Later he translated over 20 books partly as a means of livelihood, but also for the purpose of having fun. [Photo by Chen Boyuan/]

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