By Alejandro Vaccaro
“The peace-loving people of China and Argentina have rendered each other mutual understanding and support, the geographical distance between us notwithstanding.” Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote in a signed article published on Argentine newspaper Clarin several days ago, in which he also mentioned Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.
“The literary legend Jorge Luis Borges used Chinese allusions such as the butterfly dream of the philosopher Chuang Tzu and the Great Wall in his works, including The Paint Cane. And he indeed had a cherished Chinese paint cane in his possession.” read Xi’s article.
Traversing the geographical distance between the two countries, Borges and his works left shared memory for both peoples, and constituted the bond of friendship drawing them closer.
“Something, however, binds us. It is not impossible that someone has premeditated this link. It is not impossible that the universe needs this link.” he wrote in the poem The Paint Cane.
Over the 40-plus years, I collected more than 25,000 books, manuscripts and letters related to Borges for studies, and found that he had been crazy for the distant Chinese culture for a long time.
I visited China in 2013 and 2017. To my surprise, I saw in a Chinese bookstore that a lot of Borges works were translated into Chinese. A friend told me that Borges is the Latin American writer who has the most translation works in China.
The two trips to China also allowed me to see for myself the progress made by this great country in various fields, especially in the cultural sector of my interest.
Today’s China is active in book publication and literary communication. The two trips made me aware more about the importance of enhancing our friendship by strengthening cultural connections, to which end we should never stint our efforts.
It’s encouraging for us that President Xi quoted Borges and his works in the signed article. Both Argentina and China have splendid culture. Argentina has Borges, Julio Cortázar and many other preeminent writers, while a lot of philosophers and poets also emerged in China over its centuries-long history course.
They and their works build a bridge for bilateral people-to-people and cultural exchanges, enabling the two peoples to deepen understanding and appreciate the beauties of different cultures.
We are eager to an intensified people-to-people and cultural exchanges between Argentina and China, and have already proposed to list Beijing as a guest city of the Buenos Aires International Book Fair in 2021. We hope more Chinese writers can come to Argentina to share the Chinese stories with Argentine readers.
(By Alejandro Vaccaro, the head of the Argentine Society of Writers and author of a Spanish-edition biography for Jorge Luis Borges)
Source: People’s Daily
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