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Translation of Confucius' book enhances China-Malta exchange

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-12-14 07:01

VALLETTA — Lunyu, or the Analects of Confucius, is a fine example of world literature and the publication of the Maltese version of the ancient Chinese book would further enhance cultural exchanges between China and Malta, says Maltese Sinologist and translator of the book Salvatore Giuffre.

It is the first time that the book, which is a collection of ideas and sayings from the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC), has been translated into Maltese.

Giuffre spent around two years making the anthology accessible to Maltese readers, especially to young students, by translating it. Currently, the Maltese version is available for local readers. The translated version is complete with an introduction to the life of Confucius, the era he lived in, his teachings and the key concepts, terms, names and figures mentioned in the book.

"The Analects of Confucius is among my favorite works of Chinese literature," Giuffre says. "It also counts among the most valuable literary and philosophical works worldwide. Confucius teaches the fundamental virtues of humanity and places man in a system of continuous refinement."

The idea of translating the book came about when China's Shandong Friendship Publishing House invited Malta's SKS Publishers to attend a seminar on Confucius in 2017 in East China's Shandong province, the birthplace of Confucius. The event featured various publications of the book in different languages, and SKS Publishers was asked to enrich the collection with a Maltese version.

SKS asked Giuffre to translate the book. Giuffre is fluent in Chinese, has visited China several times and worked as the Maltese director of Confucius Institute at the University of Malta. The publication was partially financed by the Malta Book Fund, an initiative launched by the National Book Council, and the China Cultural Centre in Malta.

Giuffre has been studying Chinese since his teenage years. He got acquainted with classical Chinese during his studies as a Chinese major student at the University of Bologna in Italy.

"I needed to learn classical Chinese to understand the core of Chinese literary culture and philosophy," he says.

Giuffre says he translated the book directly from the original version.

"The Analects of Confucius was written in a dense and terse style, which makes understanding it rather challenging," he says.

Giuffre occasionally consulted versions of the book written in modern Chinese to clarify certain terms that he found ambiguous, obscure or hard to understand. He also added comments and explanations to make the text easier for Maltese readers to understand.

"I tried to keep my Maltese version as understandable as possible to enable a larger circle of readers to benefit from it," Giuffre says. "I hope my translation will contribute to the spread of Chinese culture and knowledge of Chinese philosophy in Malta."

Giuffre notes that Confucius not only teaches people how to become good rulers but also how to govern a country. The Chinese initiative of building a community with a shared future clearly expresses the vision of today's China to promote a peaceful system of good global governance.

"Confucius' idea of good governance would then be taken as a model for world harmony, cooperation and governance," he says.

Looking forward, he says he hopes that cooperation between China and Malta in the field of publishing would create opportunities for more translation projects of literary works.

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