Gao in 2012
|Born||January 4, 1940|
Ganzhou, Jiangxi, China
|Occupation||novelist, playwright, critic, translator, screenwriter, director, painter|
|Citizenship|| Republic of China (1940–49)|
People's Republic of China (1949–98)
France (since 1998)
|Alma mater||Beijing Foreign Studies University|
|Notable works||The Other Shore , Soul Mountain , One Man's Bible|
|Notable awards|| Nobel Prize in Literature |
|Spouse||Wang Xuejun (王学筠); divorced|
Gao Xingjian (born January 4, 1940) is a Chineseémigré novelist, playwright, and critic who in 2000 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity." He is also a noted translator (particularly of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco), screenwriter, stage director, and a celebrated painter. In 1998, Gao was granted French citizenship.
An émigré is a person who has emigrated, often with a connotation of political or social self-exile. The word is the past participle of the French émigrer, "to emigrate".
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator who lived in Paris for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French.
Eugène Ionesco was a Romanian-French playwright who wrote mostly in French, and one of the foremost figures of the French Avant-garde theatre. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict the solitude and insignificance of human existence in a tangible way.
Gao's drama is considered to be fundamentally absurdist in nature and avant-garde in his native China. His prose works tend to be less celebrated in China but are highly regarded elsewhere in Europe and the West.
Born in Ganzhou, Jiangxi, during wartime China in 1940 (Gao's original paternal ancestral home town is in Taizhou, Jiangsu with his maternal roots from Zhejiang), his family returned to Nanjing with him following the aftermath of World War II. He has been a French citizen since 1998. In 1992 he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
Ganzhou, formerly romanized as Kanchow, is a prefecture-level city in southern Jiangxi, China, bordering Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, and Hunan to the west. Its administrative seat is at Zhanggong District. Its population was 8,361,447 at the 2010 census whom 1,977,253 in the built-up area made of Zhanggong and Nankang, and Ganxian largely being urbanized.
Jiangxi is a province in the People's Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze river in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest.
Taizhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu province in eastern China. Situated on the north bank of the Yangtze River, it borders Nantong to the east, Yancheng to the north and Yangzhou to the west.
Gao's father was a clerk in the Bank of China, and his mother was a member of the Young Men's Christian Association. His mother was once a playactress of Anti-Japanese Theatre during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Under his mother's influence, Gao enjoyed painting, writing and theatre very much when he was a little boy. During his middle school years, he read lots of literature translated from the West, and he studied sketching, ink and wash painting, oil painting and clay sculpture under the guidance of painter Yun Zongying (simplified Chinese :郓宗嬴; traditional Chinese :鄆宗嬴; pinyin :Yùn Zōngyíng).
Bank of China is one of the four biggest state-owned commercial banks in China. Bank of China is legally separate from its subsidiary Bank of China, although they maintain close relations in management and administration and co-operate in several areas including reselling BOC's insurance and securities services.
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle.
A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.
In 1950, his family moved to Nanjing. In 1952, Gao entered the Nanjing Number 10 Middle School (later renamed Jinling High School) which was the Middle School attached to Nanjing University.
Nanjing, formerly romanized as Nanking and Nankin, is the capital of Jiangsu province of the People's Republic of China and the second largest city in the East China region, with an administrative area of 6,600 km2 (2,500 sq mi) and a total population of 8,270,500 as of 2016. The inner area of Nanjing enclosed by the city wall is Nanjing City (南京城), with an area of 55 km2 (21 sq mi), while the Nanjing Metropolitan Region includes surrounding cities and areas, covering over 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi), with a population of over 30 million.
Nanjing University, known as Nanda, is a major public university, the oldest institution of higher learning in Nanjing, Jiangsu, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities.
In 1957 Gao graduated, and, following his mother's advice, chose Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) instead of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, although he was thought to be talented in art.
Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), popularly known as Běiwài in Mandarin and BFSU in English, is a university located in Beijing, China. BFSU boasts of the oldest language programs in China, offering the largest number of foreign language majors on different educational levels. Located in the Haidian District of Beijing, BFSU is divided into two campuses – the West Campus and the East Campus. BFSU is China's pre-eminent research university specializing in foreign studies according to recent collegiate rankings. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Double First Class Discipline University, with Double First Class status in certain disciplines.
The Central Academy of Fine Arts or CAFA is an art academy managed by the Ministry of Education of China. The Manila Bulletin calls the school "China’s most prestigious and renowned art academy". It is considered one of the most selective schools in the country and turns away more than 90% of its applicants each year.
In 1962 Gao graduated from the Department of French, BFSU, and then he worked for the Chinese International Bookstore (中國國際書店). During the 1970s, because of the Down to the Countryside Movement, he went to and stayed in the countryside and did farm labour in Anhui Province. He taught as a Chinese teacher in Gangkou Middle School, Ningguo county, Anhui Province for a short time. In 1975, he was allowed to go back to Beijing and became the group leader of French translation for the magazine China Reconstructs (《中國建設》).
In 1977 Gao worked for the Committee of Foreign Relationship, Chinese Association of Writers. In May 1979, he visited Paris with a group of Chinese writers including Ba Jin. In 1980, Gao became a screenwriter and playwright for the Beijing People's Art Theatre.
Gao is known as a pioneer of absurdist drama in China, where Signal Alarm (《絕對信號》, 1982) and Bus Stop (《車站》, 1983) were produced during his term as resident playwright at the Beijing People's Art Theatre from 1981 to 1987. Influenced by European theatrical models, it gained him a reputation as an avant-garde writer. His other plays, The Primitive (1985) and The Other Shore (《彼岸》, 1986), all openly criticised the government's state policies.
In 1986 Gao was misdiagnosed with lung cancer, and he began a 10-month trek along the Yangtze, which resulted in his novel Soul Mountain (《靈山》). The part-memoir, part-novel, first published in Taipei in 1990 and in English in 2000 by HarperCollins Australia, mixes literary genres and utilizes shifting narrative voices. It has been specially cited by the Swedish Nobel committee as "one of those singular literary creations that seem impossible to compare with anything but themselves." The book details his travels from Sichuan province to the coast, and life among Chinese minorities such as the Qiang, Miao, and Yi peoples on the fringes of Han Chinese civilization.
By the late 1980s, Gao had shifted to Bagnolet, a city adjacent to Paris, France. The political drama Fugitives(1989), which makes reference to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, resulted in all his works being banned from performance in China.
While being forced to work as a peasant – a form of 'education' under the Cultural Revolution – in the 1970s, Gao Xingjian produced many plays, short stories, poems and critical pieces that he had to eventually burn to avoid the consequences of his dissident literature being discovered. Of the work he produced subsequently, he published no collections of poetry, being known more widely for his drama, fiction and essays. However, one short poem exists that represents a distinctively modern style akin to his other writings:
Gao is a painter, known especially for his ink and wash painting. His exhibitions have included:
The Premier Zhu Rongji delivered a congratulatory message to Gao when interviewed by the Hong Kong newspaper East Daily (《东方日报》):
Gao's work has led to fierce discussion among Chinese writers, both positive and negative.
In his article on Gao in the June 2008 issue of Muse, a now-defunct Hong Kong magazine, Leo Ou-fan Lee praises the use of Chinese language in Soul Mountain: 'Whether it works or not, it is a rich fictional language filled with vernacular speeches and elegant 文言 (classical) formulations as well as dialects, thus constituting a "heteroglossic" tapestry of sounds and rhythms that can indeed be read aloud (as Gao himself has done in his public readings).'
Before 2000, a dozen Chinese writers and scholars already predicted Gao's winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, including Hu Yaoheng (Chinese: 胡耀恒)Pan Jun (潘军) as early as 1999.
Sir Charles Kuen Kao was a physicist and electrical engineer who pioneered the development and use of fibre optics in telecommunications. In the 1960s, Kao created various methods to combine glass fibres with lasers in order to transmit digital data, which laid the groundwork for the evolution of the Internet.
Mabel Lee is a translator of the works of Nobel Prize-winning author Gao Xingjian. She has taught Asian studies at the University of Sydney and is one of Australia's leading authorities on Chinese cultural affairs. Lee was a professor of South-East Asian Studies at Sydney University and had already begun translation of the poems of Chinese writer, Yang Lian when she met Gao Xingjian, in Paris in 1991. After that meeting, Lee offered to translate Soul Mountain, a project which took seven years, and an additional two to find a publisher for the book in Australia. Following publication, Gao Xingjian became the first Chinese to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
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Sayed Gouda is an Egyptian poet and novelist. He majored in the Chinese language. Dr Sayed Gouda was born in Cairo and moved to Hong Kong in 1992 where he currently resides. He did his undergraduate studies in Egypt and China, majoring in Chinese, and received his PhD in comparative literary studies from the City University of Hong Kong in 2014. His research interests include comparative literature, comparative cultural studies, and translation studies. Gouda is a published poet, novelist, and translator. His works and translations have appeared in Arabic, English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Macedonian, Uzbek, Romanian, and Mongolian. He is the editor of a literary website called Nadwah that features five languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, and German (www.arabicnadwah.com/index-english.htm). From 2004 to 2010, he organised a monthly literary salon in Hong Kong. He has also participated in many international poetry festivals and academic conferences around the world. In 1990, Gouda won first prize in poetry from the Faculty of Languages (al-Alsun), Ain Shams University. In addition, in 2012, he was awarded the Enchanting Poet Award by The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, and in 2014, an honorary prize for his poem ‘Night Train’ from Shijie huawen shibao 世界華文詩報.
The Other Shore is a play by the Chinese writer Gao Xingjian. It was first published into English in 1997 and translated again in 1999.
Kong Lin, also known as Kong Ling, is a mainland Chinese actress, television series and movie producer, art director, and semi-rock-pop singer. Born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang she now lives in Beijing, Jilin.
Shi Tiesheng (史铁生) was a Chinese novelist, known for his story which was the basis of the film Life on a String. The China Daily stated regarding his essay about the park near where he lived, "Many critics have considered I and the Temple of Earth (zh:我与地坛) as one of the best Chinese prose essays of the 20th century."
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The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2000 goes to the Chinese writer Gao Xingjian "for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama".
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