Found in translation

By Mei Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-04 08:52

Found in translation

Chinese scholar Dong Qiang is selected as a tenured correspondent in the general section of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in Paris. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Meeting celebrated writer Milan Kundera and becoming one of his students in Paris in the 1990s was a turning point for Dong Qiang, who may have otherwise stayed in France and become a "China expert" there.

Dong returned home and is a professor of French language and literature at Peking University. He has translated dozens of important works between the two languages and has remained dedicated to promoting exchanges between the two countries, particularly in the sphere of culture.

In recognition of his achievements, he was elected as a tenured correspondent in the general section of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, one of the five academies of the prestigious French Institute.

The 49-year-old is the first Chinese person to have been selected for the post since the academy's establishment in 1795. Britain's Prince Charles has been one of the foreign associates there since 1992.

"The tenure is lifelong. I'm taking the vacancy passed from French historian Jean-Louis Cremieux-Brilhac with great honor because he was the one who fought with General Charles de Gaulle and directed Free French radio broadcasts during World War II," Dong tells China Daily at his office in Peking University.

He has just returned from the French Institute's annual meeting in mid-November, where he was officially introduced as the new correspondent.

"I was welcomed by the honor guard with their swords up," Dong says.

This, to him, rivaled the memorable hours he spent with Kundera-author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being-at Paris' School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in the early 1990s.

"Kundera led me into a small room where several students already were. He hung an 'in recording' sign on the door and closed it, then started his lecture on music and novels," Dong recalls of his first lesson.

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