Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Lusin: Part One

Author: David Poulson
Published on: February 9, 2001

I ended my last article in this series with a description of how Eroshenko quickly established himself as an active and productive figure in the Esperanto movement in Shanghai. However, even before he got to the 'cradle of the Chinese Esperanto movement,' his arrest in Japan and the deportation which followed had not gone unnoticed in China.

One very influential individual who knew all about it was the writer, Lusin. Not very long after Eroshenko was forced to leave Japan, (which, as you may recall, was in May 1921), Lusin sent a copy of one of Eroshenko's books - a collection of fables written in the Japanese language - to his brother. In a letter which accompanied the book, Lusin wrote:

'Today (ie August 30th) I received a book by the persecuted blind poet and I am sending it to you to read...I don't think it is dangerous enough to warrant the deportation of the author with such a great commotion. I will probably translate it into Chinese.'

In fact, even before Lusin sent off that book to his brother, he had begun to translate Eroshenko?s fables into Chinese, as he continued to due for some time after. (It is interesting that he refers to Eroshenko as a 'poet.') I have mentioned Lusin several times before in this series of articles and, although he himself was not an Esperanto-speaker, his strong support for the Chinese Esperanto movement, and his friendships with other Esperantists was so important that I want to tell you a bit more about this interesting and renowned writer whose reputation in China reached great heights, even during his relatively short life-time.

Outside of the Esperanto movement, Lusin (some of whose work appeared in English translation) is better known as Lu Sin, and his real name was Chou Shu-jen. He has been described as 'the founder of modern Chinese Literature and enjoyed enormous prestige in Chinese literary circles for three-quarters of a century. Wang Hanping, writing in 1992, claimed that Lusin's works have been translated into fifty national languages and have been published in thirty different countries. ('Karmemore al Lusin,' El Popola Cxinio 3:1992 pp 14-15)

Lusin was born in 1881 in Shaohing in the province of Chekiang, now known as Zhejiang or, in Esperanto, as Gxegxjang. (Parenthetically, let me remark, with sincere apologies to my readers, that the task of achieving consistent transliteration of Chinese proper names is probably beyond my competence. I will do my best and welcome any corrections from those more skilful than myself).

In 1902, Lusin, who was evidently an exceptionally talented individual, was selected to go to Japan to study medicine. But even before he left China he had demonstrated his literary talents. His first articles were written when he was only 17 years old and still studying at the Naval Academy in Nanking.

He had only been in Japan for a year before he began to translate into Chinese works from European writers, mainly from Russia. However, he also translated two of the novels of Jules Verne (Journey to the Centre of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon - a happy coincidence now that we have recently discovered Jules Verne's own strong support for and involvement in the Esperanto movement. (See my earlier articles about Jules Verne in this series for more details).

Just how Lusin managed to translate a considerable amount of fiction from several European languages while studying medicine in Japanese is quite beyond the comprehension of an idle loafer like me. It was something of a relief to learn that the task finally proved too much for Lusin too and, in 1906, he ceased his medical studies, giving up the idea of becoming a doctor so that he could spend more time writing and earn, at least part of his living, by his pen - or brush.

(This summary of Lusin's life and works will be concluded in my next article, scheduled to appear on Friday, February 23rd.)

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