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BNU Professor Mo Yan attended a conversation on literature and drama creation at Oxford University

On May 31, Mo Yan, professor of BNU, participated in a conversation on literature and drama creation hosted by Regent's Park College, Oxford University. This is Mo Yan's first return to Oxford since he was awarded an honorary fellowship of Oxford University in 2019.

Malcolm Evans, president of Regent's Park College, Oxford University, spoke highly of Mo Yan's contribution to world literature in his speech. Mo Yan then had a conversation with Professor Bart van Es, a literary critic from the Department of English at Oxford University, discussing Mo Yan's transformation from a novelist to a playwriter, and deeply revealing the richness of the themes of his creations and works.

Van Es praised the sensory immersion in Mo Yan's work, noting how Goldblatt's English translation effectively used words such as "red," "sorghum," and "wine" to evoke vivid imagery. Mo Yan said he was inspired by the visual impact of Impressionist paintings, especially Monet, in his deliberate use of sensory details to create a visceral reading experience.

Speaking about the novel Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, in which the protagonist is reborn and reborn multiple times, Mo Yan explained how he used the structure to explore all aspects of human and animal life and to blend contemporary reality with historical memory. He talked about the influence of Western writers on him, including Cervantes, Faulkner and Hemingway. At the same time, Mo Yan also discussed how Chinese writers can deepen their understanding of global literary traditions by reading Western literature in translation.

Van Es said he hopes the audience will learn more about Mr. Mo Yan's transformation from novelist to playwright, and it’s also interesting to learn how he was influenced by Impressionist visual art, Cervantes and Shakespeare. “For audients, it is very lucky to learn so much from such an important world-class writer”, said Van Es.

When asked about his transformation into a playwright, Mo Yan revealed that his dream of becoming a playwright can be traced back to his childhood, when he was influenced by a small theater in the village. Mo Yan believes that drama creation has a unique charm, and the cooperation between directors and actors will bring great changes to the script.

"From novelist to playwriter, Mo Yan has demonstrated a masterful skill in immersing people in the real daily lives of ordinary people. There is a fascinating sense of nature and humanity in his works", said Wang Shidong, director of the Oxford Institute for Global Development and Prospects.

The event also included the award ceremony for the third "Beijing Normal University-Oxford 'Perfect World' Young Literary Star". The event was jointly organized by the International Writing Center of Beijing Normal University and the Mo Yan International Writing Center of Oxford University. Professor Patrick McGuinness, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature Paul Duncan, Dr. Lynne Robertson and Dr. Sanji Pereira formed the British jury. In the end, Jellyfish, the work of Iseult Demarais Burgess of Hertford College, Oxford University, won the award.

The event highlighted the enduring power of literature in connecting diverse global experiences and perspectives. The young writers and scholars who attended said they had a deeper appreciation for Mo Yan's literary achievements and contributions to world literature, and were encouraged to continue exploring the intersection of culture, history and literature.