北方妇女儿童出版社, 1988 (Frédéric Dard, Mausolée pour une garce, originally published as Les Derniers mystères de Paris, Fleuve Noir, 1958)
With thanks to Didier Poiret, Thierry Gautier & Yue Ma,
Her wickedness is shown to have alienated her both from her friends and from herself; her debasement, the text warns, is a mere reflection of the alienating values of the society in which she lives. Thus, explains the Chinese foreword, “because Agnes committed too many crimes, she lost all her standing and reputation”. The questionable seductions of her life of crime are dispelled by the end of the novel. In doing so, claims the Chinese publisher, the novel “exposes and criticizes the emptiness and moral bankruptcy of the bourgeois ladies of whom Agnes is an example, and attacks the inherently evil social relationships in a capitalist society”. Such guidance is deemed sufficient to direct the reader’s interpretation of the text. Thus the book, although unquestionably a product of western mass-market publishing industries, can still be recommended to Chinese readers. Especially as its literary quality serves to reinforce its salubrious critical outlook: “the plot of the novel is surprising, the language fluent, settings and characters are delicately painted, and the novel is meaningful and thought-provoking”.
This rather different interpretation in the Chinese introduction brings to mind I. A. Richards’ reflections on teaching Tess of the d’Urbervilles in Beijing in the 1920s where, when he read of Tess’s hanging, the students burst into applause because, according to his Chinese students, she had been disrespectful to her father.
Thanks Stewart for the sobering consideration on International communication and its challenges…