Italy is among the nations capable of claiming the oldest continuous relations with China. The Chinese public’s serious admiration for our Country, which is considered one of the cradles of human civilisation, is witnessed by the success that the great figures of Italy’s cultural panorama have always had in China. This gives the perception that the two countries, cultural super-powers, are bound by a natural affinity.
This is another reason why Umberto Eco’s death created a particular emotion in China as he was considered one of the most famous intellectuals worldwide and capable, like only a handful more, to combine the wisdom arising from knowledge of the past and the incredible capacity to look to the future.
The strong impact that the Italian author had on the Chinese people laid the ground for the “Eco from China” Prize, an initiative promoted by the Italian Institute of Culture in Beijing to spread the knowledge of the Italian language and culture through the commemoration of the writer.
“Eco from China”
“Eco from China” will be established as an annual literary contest open to two categories of participants: young people between 15 and 25 years of age and adults. The youth category will be asked to write short stories aimed at enhancing trade and relations between contemporary Italy and China, while the adults will be invited to submit a critical study in the field of human, legal or social sciences, literary translations or short films. The winning works will be judged on the basis of their original contribution to the knowledge of Italian literature and/or of Italian culture and society.
The winners will be given a gift trip to Italy while the five finalists in the short story section of the youth category will have their short stories published in a collection of books for Italian Institutions, printed and edited by the Italian Institute of Culture in Beijing.
The Umberto Eco Prize will head the 2016 shortlist of best initiatives promoted by the Italian Institute of Culture in Beijing
Complementary to the conferences and events dedicated to his memory throughout the year, the Umberto Eco Prize will be at the head of the 2016 shortlist of the best initiatives promoted by the Italian Institute of Culture in Beijing.
“As we were with Eco’s Chinese readers on the day of his death, the idea spontaneously arose of organising a series of events in Beijing and to dedicate an annual prize to commemorate the great intellectual,” said Italian Ambassador, Ettore Sequi. He continued: “In this Country too he has always been studied and appreciated as a writer, thinker and essayist. This is yet more proof of the natural affinity that exists between two cultural super-powers like Italy and China.”
Eco is a writer widely loved and translated in China. “The Name of the Rose” vaunts two different translations; the first from English and the second – of excellent quality – from the original Italian version. Some of his other complex novels have been translated into Chinese, such as the “Foucault’s Pendulum”, which was published in the new 2014 version, revised and integrated by the author himself. The other books published in mainland China are “The Island of the Day Before” and “Baudolino" and “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” in Taiwan. Umberto Eco has long been studied in China also through the translation of some of his essays such as “A Theory of Semiotics”, “Diario minimo” and part of the “Secondo Diario Minimo”, “History of Beauty”, “On Ugliness”, “Sei passeggiate nei boschi narrativi" and “How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays".
As proof of China’s unrelenting interest for Eco, who had visited the Country on several occasions, the latest translation of his work concerns “The Prague Cemetery”, by Prof Wen Zheng, which is currently under revision.