Vietnam says farewell to legendary translator

By Ha Thu   March 1, 2023 | 02:28 am PT
Vietnam says farewell to legendary translator
Vietnamese translator and poet Duong Tuong walks the street in Hanoi in a file photo. Photo by Nguyen Dinh Toan
Colleagues and family members of legendary poet and translator Duong Tuong, who translated works like "Gone with the Wind" and "Kafka on the Shore" into Vietnamese, attended his funeral on Wednesday.

Tuong, who died on Feb. 24 at 91, had spent the last three months of his life at the Military Hospital 108 in Hanoi. He is survived by his wife, Nguyen Thi Trinh, and their three children: Hai Au, Tran Thi Huong and Tran Phuong Mai.

Tuong was a former reporter at the Vietnam News Agency and translator for a committee that investigates war crimes committed by the U.S. in Vietnam. He retired in 1979. With his love for languages, he self-studied French and English.

Throughout his life, he had translated over 50 literary works from numerous countries, including the U.S., Russia, Germany and Japan. Some notable works were "Lolita," "Gone with the Wind," "Wuthering Heights," and "Kafka on the Shore." He also translated "The Tale of Kieu" by poet Nguyen Du for the international audience.

Pham Xuan Nguyen, a critic and friend of Tuong, remembered him as a kind man.

"His kindness is shown through his personality and life attitude, but he is relentless when it comes to making art and studying languages. For over 60 years of his career, he squeezed out every last drop of his mind and body to translate classic works," he said.

Duong Thang, a translator, said Tuong was a self-studied talent. Tuong had a way to innovate things and forge his own path, while still being respectful to the innovations of his fellow colleagues, Thang said.

"His mind and work ethics are remarkable. Many people have planned to translate ‘The Tale of Kieu’, but all were unfinished. In his twilight years, as his time was running out, Tuong managed to finish it. It is something that future translators should learn from."

Xuan Ba, a writer, said Tuong was the embodiment of kindness.

"Besides his dedication to his career, Tuong also spent his time and efforts to support young writers and translators. His humility has earned him friends for life. Even in the final years of his life, many students still came to his house and helped him with typing and reading."

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