Yang Jiang

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For the city in Guangdong Province, see Yangjiang.
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yang.
Jiang Yang
Yang Jiang 1941.jpg
Yang in 1941
Born 楊季康
Yang Jikang

(1911-07-17)17 July 1911
Flag of the Qing dynasty (1889-1912).svgPeking, Qing Empire
Died 25 May 2016(2016-05-25) (aged 104)
China Beijing, China
Nationality  Qing Dynasty
Republic of China (1912–49) Republic of China
 Republic of China
 People's Republic of China
Alma mater Soochow University
Tsinghua University
University of Oxford
University of Paris
Spouse(s) Qian Zhongshu
(m. 1935; d. 1998)
Children Qian Yuan
Parent(s) Yang Yinhang
(father, 1878–1945)
Relatives Yang Yinyu
(aunt, 1884–1938)

Yang Jiang (simplified Chinese: 杨绛; traditional Chinese: 楊絳; pinyin: Yáng Jiàng; 17 July 1911 – 25 May 2016), born Yang Jikang (simplified Chinese: 杨季康; traditional Chinese: 楊季康; pinyin: Yáng Jìkāng), was a Chinese playwright, author, and translator. She wrote several successful comedies, and was the first Chinese person to produce a complete Chinese version of Miguel de Cervantes' novel Don Quixote.[1]


Born in Beijing,[2] she grew up in the south of China. After graduating from Soochow University in 1932, Yang Jiang enrolled in the graduate school of Tsinghua University where she met her husband Qian Zhongshu. During 1935–1938, they went abroad to England for further study at Oxford University. In England, Yang gave birth to their daughter Qian Yuan (錢瑗). They later studied at Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris, France.[2]

They returned to China in 1938.[2] Living in Shanghai, she wrote four stage plays: two comedies of manners, Heart's Desire (1943) and Forging the Truth (1944), one farce, Sporting with the World (1947), and the tragedy Windswept Blossoms (1947). After 1949, she taught at the Tsinghua University and made a scholarly study of western literature at Peking University and the Academy of Science. She published this work in 1979 in a compendium: Spring Mud. As authors, literary researchers, and translators, Yang and Qian both made important contributions to the development of Chinese literary culture.[3]

Yang also translated into Chinese three major European works of picaresque fiction: Lazarillo de Tormes (1951), Gil Blas (1956) and Don Quixote (1978).[4] Her Chinese translation of Don Quixote is, as of 2016, still considered the definitive version.[5] She was also awarded the Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise for this by King Juan Carlos in October 1986.[6] Her sister Yang Bi (楊必) (1922–1968) was also a translator.

Her experience doing "reform through labor" in a "cadre school" in Henan from 1969 to 1972, where she was "sent down" with her husband during the Cultural Revolution, inspired her to write Six Chapters from My Life 'Downunder' (1981).[7] This is the book that made her name as a writer in the post-Mao period.[8][9] In connection with this memoir, she also wrote Soon to Have Tea (將飲茶) (aka Toward Oblivion), which was published in 1983.[10]

In 1988, she published her only novel Baptism (洗澡), which was always connected with Fortress Besieged (圍城), a masterpiece of her husband.[11] Her 2003 memoir We Three (我們仨), recalled memories of her husband and her daughter Qian Yuan, who died of cancer one year before her father's death in 1998. At the age of 96, she published Reaching the Brink of Life (走到人生邊上), a philosophic work whose title in Chinese clearly alludes to her late husband's collection of essays Marginalia to Life (寫在人生邊上).[2]

She turned 100 in July 2011.[12] The novella After the Baptism (洗澡之後), a coda to Baptism, appeared in 2014. On 25 May 2016, Yang died at the age of 104 at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing.[5]


  • Six Chapters from My Life 'Downunder' (幹校六記)
  • Soon to Have Tea (將飲茶)
  • Baptism (洗澡)
  • We Three (我們仨)
  • Reaching the Brink of Life (走到人生邊上)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A family besieged now beloved. China Daily, 17 November 2003. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Cary Huang and Oliver Chou (25 May 2016). Yang Jiang, bestselling author who wrote on the pain of living through persecution during Cultural Revolution, dies at 104. South China Morning Post. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  3. ^ 杨绛走完百岁人生 (in Chinese). People's Daily. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  4. ^ Rea, Christopher (June 2011). "Yang Jiang's 楊絳 Conspicuous Inconspicuousness A Centenary Writer in China's 'Prosperous Age'". China Heritage Quarterly (26). 
  5. ^ a b "Renowned Chinese writer Yang Jiang dies at age 104". Washington Post. 25 May 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Li, Naiqing (30 May 2011). "杨绛百年淑子映月泉清" (in Chinese). Sina. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Lévy, André (2000). Dictionnaire de littérature chinoise (in French) (1st ed.). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. pp. 364–365. ISBN 9782130504382. 
  8. ^ Li-hua Ying, Historical Dictionary of Modern Chinese Literature, The Scarecrow Press, 2010, p. 234.
  9. ^ Shapiro, Judith (25 November 1984). "The Re-Education Of A 'Stinking Intellectual'". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ Li, Hongrui (26 May 2016). "Yang Jiang: A woman's legacy through words". China Daily. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  11. ^ 杨绛与钱锺书 (in Chinese). China Writers Association. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  12. ^ Yang, Guang (21 July 2011). "At the margins of life". China Daily. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

Literary works by Yang Jiang in English translation:

  • Yang Jiang, tran. Howard Goldblatt (1988). Six Chapters from My Life "Downunder". University of Washington Press. ISBN 9780295966441. 
  • Yang Jiang, tran. Geremie Barme (1989). Lost in the Crowd: A Cultural Revolution Memoir. McPhee Gribble. ISBN 9780869140970. [1]
  • Yang Jiang, tran. Judith M. Amory and Yaohua Shi (2007). Baptism. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789622098312. [2]
  • Yang Jiang, ed. Christopher Rea (2011). Renditions Magazine: Special issue on Yang Jiang. Hong Kong University Press. ISSN 0377-3515.  [3]

Studies of Yang Jiang's life and works:

External links[edit]

  1. ^ http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/702708
  2. ^ http://ebooks.hkupress.org/product/baptism-by-yang-jiang
  3. ^ http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/rct/toc/toc_b76.html
  4. ^ http://www.brill.com/products/book/chinas-literary-cosmopolitans