Wolfgang Kubin

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Wolfgang Kubin 2010

Wolfgang Kubin (Chinese: 顾彬; pinyin: Gù Bīn; born December 17, 1945 in Celle) is a German poet, essayist, sinologist and translator of literary works. He is the former director of the Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany.[1] Kubin has frequently been a guest professor at universities in China, for instance at Beijing Foreign Studies University, but also in Madison, Wisconsin and in Jerusalem.[2] Since 1989, Kubin has been the editor of the journals ORIENTIERUNGEN: Zeitschrift zur Kultur Asiens and Minima sinica: Zeitschrift zum chinesischen Geist.[3]


Having graduated from the Gymnasium Dionysianum in Rheine in 1965 (which provided him with a solid foundation in Classical Latin and Greek), Wolfgang Kubin studied Protestant theology at the University of Münster from 1966 until 1968. In 1968, he studied Japanology and Classical Chinese at the University of Vienna and from 1969 until 1973, sinology, philosophy, and German literature at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. He also engaged again in Japanese studies during these years. His doctoral dissertation focused on the lyrical works of the Tang dynasty poet Du Mu (803–852).[4]

Kubin lectured at the Institute of East Asian Studies of the Free University of Berlin since 1977.[5] He taught 20th century Chinese literature and art, and completed his postdoctoral thesis on the evolution of the concept of nature in Classical Chinese literature.[6]

On October 1, 1985 Kubin became Professor of Chinese (Professor für Chinesisch (C3)) at the Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn; in 1989 he became Professor of Modern Sinology and in August 1995 he succeeded Rolf Trauzettel as Professor of Classical Sinology in Bonn.[7]

Wolfgang Kubin became widely known among the general public as a translator of modern Chinese poetry and prose. His best known work is the translation of short stories and essays by Lu Xun.[8] His History of Chinese Literature in the 20th Century (published in German as Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur im 20. Jahrhundert) is considered as indispensable and a Classic.

2006 Deutsche Welle interview[edit]

In November 2006, Wolfgang Kubin made headlines when he commented on fairly recently published Chinese literature during an interview he gave to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He denounced several works in harsh terms, referring to Wei Hui's Shanghai Baby as "garbage" and Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem as "fascist".[9][10] Kubin has expressed his admiration for Lu Xun, and he has said that no contemporary author could compare to him.[11][12]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Monographs and translations[edit]

  • Nachrichten von der Hauptstadt der Sonne: moderne chinesische Lyrik 1919–1984. Frankfurt am Main (Suhrkamp) 1985, ISBN 3-518-11322-4.
  • Aus dem Garten der Wildnis: Studien zu Lu Xun (1881–1936). Bonn (Bouvier Verlag) 1989. – ISBN 3-416-04009-0.
  • Das neue Lied von der alten Verzweiflung. Bonn (Weidle) 2000, ISBN 3-931135-44-6. – Poems.
  • Narrentürme: Gedichte. Bonn (Weidle) 2002, ISBN 3-931135-62-4. – Poems.
  • Schattentänzer: Gedichte. Bonn (Weidle) 2004, ISBN 3-931135-83-7. – Poems.
  • Halbzeit einer Liebe: eine Erzählung. With an epilogue by Heinz Ludwig Arnold. Vienna (Edition Milo Band 4. Lehner) 2006, ISBN 3-901749-55-1. – Prose fiction.
  • Alles vesteht sich auf Verrat: Gedichte. Bonn (Weidle) 2009, ISBN 978-3-938803-16-5. – Poems.
  • Unterm Schnurbaum. Bonn (Weidle) 2009, ISBN 978-3-938803-15-8. – Poems.
  • Wolfgang Kubin (ed.): Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur (History of Chinese Literature)
  • Bei Dao: Das Buch der Niederlagen – Gedichte. translated and with a postscript by W. Kubin. Munich (Carl Hanser Verlag) 2009, ISBN 978-3-446-23283-9.
  • Marc Hermann, Wolfgang Kubin, Thomas Zimmer, Zhang Jie, Lena Henningsen, Shelley W. Chan, Anne Xu-Cobb: Chinesische Gegenwartsliteratur: Zwischen Plagiat und Markt? Munich (edition global) 2009, ISBN 3922667120.

Articles and interviews[edit]


Kubin received Friendship Award (China) in 2016.[13] He also received the Pamir International Poetry Prize (帕米尔国际诗歌奖 Pàmǐěr Guójì Shīgē Jiǎng) which is taken to be the top literary prize awarded in the Chinese-speaking world.[14][15] In 2013, the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (German Academy for Language and Literature) awarded him the Johann Heinrich Voß Prize in Translation in recognition of his achievement as a literary translator.[16]


  1. ^ ”Wolfgang Kubin is one of the best known Sinologists in Germany, especially on the presentation and study of contemporary Chinese literature.” See entry re “Wolfgang Kubin” in: http://www.ou.edu/uschina/newman/juries.html. Accessed Dec.29, 2013.
  2. ^ See: Wolfgang Kubin, “Living with the Holocaust” in: At Home in Many Worlds: Reading, Writing and Translating from Chinese and Jewish Cultures. Essays in Honour of Irene Eber. (Veröffentlichungen des Ostasien-Instituts der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 56), edited by Raoul David Findeisen, Gad C. Isay, Amira Katz-Goehr, Yuri Pines and Lihi Yariv-Laor. Wiesbaden (Harrassowitz Verlag) 2009, pp.19–27. – ISBN 978-3-447-06135-3. Kubin refers here to his stay (as a guest professor) in Jerusalem. See also: “Wolfgang Kubin,” in: http://www.literaturport.de/Wolfgang.Kubin/.
  3. ^ See: “Wolfgang Kubin,” in: http://www.ou.edu/uschina/newman/juries.html. Accessed Dec.29, 2013.
  4. ^ Wolfgang Kubin, Das lyrische Werk des Du Mu (803–852), Versuch einer Deutung, Ph.D. thesis.
  5. ^ See the portrait of Kubin, “Ein Star in China” (A star in China), in: Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), October 15, 2009. Also online: http://www.buchmesse.taz.de/!42318/
  6. ^ In 1985, Irene Eber noted the conspicuous absence of interest of German sinologists in modern Chinese literature during the 1950s, '60s, and much of the '70s whereas “[i]n recent years, there has been a growing interest in both translation and critical analysis, for which Wolfgang Kubin must take the major credit.” Irene Eber, “The Reception of Lu Xun in Europe and America: The Politics of Popularization and Scholarship,” in: Leo Ou-fan Lee (ed.), Lu Xun and His Legacy. Berkeley (University of California Press) 1985, p.246f.- ISBN 0-520-05158-0.
  7. ^ See: http://www.ostasien-verlag.de/autoren/kubin.html.
  8. ^ See: Lu Xun. Die Methode, wilde Tiere abzurichten. Erzählungen, Essays, Gedichte. Selected, translated and with an introduction by Wolfgang Kubin. Berlin (Oberbaumverlag) 1979; 2nd edition 1981. ISBN 3-87628-159-8. – Concentrating briefly on the story 'Remembrance of the Past' while reporting on the reception of Lu Xun by Western and East Bloc scholars, Irene Eber writes that two Western sinologists, “William Lyell and Wolfgang Kubin [...] paid attention to this story.” She says that “Lyell considers the content more important than the form” whereas “Kubin” chooses an approach comparable to that of Průšek when he is “directing attention to traditional subjective and lyrical elements” in the story and emphasizes “the relative unimportance of plot.” Still, Kubin does not fail to “point out Lu Xun's method of juxtaposing contrasting elements: master and servant, the plantain tree and the study” etc., thus drawing the attention of the reader to a (binary?) structure that reflects contradictions in Chinese society. Irene Eber, “The Reception of Lu Xun in Europe and America: The Politics of Popularization and Scholarship,” in: Leo Ou-fan Lee (ed.), Lu Xun and His Legacy. Berkeley (University of California Press) 1985, p.267.- ISBN 0-520-05158-0.
  9. ^ "德国汉学权威另一只眼看现当代中国文学 (Authoritative German sinologist looks at contemporary Chinese literature with a different eye)". Deutsche Welle. 2006-11-26. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
  10. ^ "德汉学家称中国当代文学是垃圾 《狼图腾》丢脸 (German sinologist says contemporary Chinese literature is garbage, Wolf Totem a loss of face)". Xinhua News Agency. 2006-12-11. Archived from the original on January 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
  11. ^ "德國漢學家顧彬稱中國當代作家不懂語言 (German sinologist Kubin states that contemporary Chinese authors don't understand the language)". Sina News (Taiwan). 2007-04-05. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 2007-04-21.
  12. ^ S. Veg wrote that “recently discussion of the value of Chinese literature was rekindled by an interview with German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin for the Chinese-language service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in the fall of 2006, in which Kubin criticised – in no uncertain terms – excessive Western interest in contemporary Chinese fiction (in particular what he described as commercial fiction such as works by Wei Hui and Mian Mian), to the detriment of other genres such as contemporary poetry and Republican fiction.” Veg noted “[t]he huge impact that this rather brief interview [...] sparked in China […].” Sebastian Veg, “Editorial,” in: China Perspectives, No.2/2010, pp.3ff. – Also online: http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/5265?file=1.
  13. ^ “Wolfgang Kubin was awarded the Friendship Award (China) 2016.” See: “Wolfgang Kubin,” in: http://news.bfsu.edu.cn/archives/256512.
  14. ^ CDHK Chinese German Academic Center at Tongji University, Shanghai (中德论坛之 “学者在中国扮演的角色——昨日与今朝” Zhōng-Dé Lùntán zhī “Xuézhě zài Zhōngguó Bànyǎn de Juésè——Zuórì yǔ Jīnzhāo”), in:http://cdhk.tongji.edu.cn/cn/veranstaltung_archivdetail.php?year=2011&eventId=19 May 5, 2011, accessed Dec. 29, 2013.
  15. ^ See also: "Unionsverlag Pamir International Poetry Price für Wolfgang Kubin". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2017-11-12..
  16. ^ See the press release of the academy: "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2017-11-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).

External links[edit]