Video: Nobel Laureate Mo Yan Explains How 'Good Writers' Language Has Personality'

In an engaging talk taped for Asia Society's 2014 National Chinese Language Conference in Los Angeles, where it was publicly screened earlier today, Chinese novelist Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, shares his considered views on what makes for successful literary translation.

"Some people would say that translation is supposed to be faithful to the original, and that it is just a tool," the author says, adding, "I do not agree with this 'instrumental theory.'"

Citing his own work and that of fellow writer Wang Shuo, Mo Yan continues, "It is a matter of finding analogous qualities in the target language. ...from this angle I feel that translation is indeed a creative act."

The Nobel Laureate goes on to say that learning Chinese strikes him as the "best, most convenient way" for non-Chinese people to become knowledgeable about China, with the added benefit that "a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided."

Video: Mo Yan on literary translation (5 min., 1 sec.)