Li Ya’nan, a volunteer member of the narration team at Fudan University, interprets exhibits for visitors in November 2019. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Just over a century ago, in 1920, Chen Wangdao, the late Chinese scholar and educator, completed China’s first translation of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Today, 101 years later, a team of 29 members from the Communist Party of China are following in his footsteps to share Marxist theories with the public through an exhibition centered on The Communist Manifesto.
This team was established in May 2018, when the exhibition first opened to the public at the house where Chen, who was the president of Fudan University from 1952 to 1977, used to live.
According to the university, the exhibition was set up to help cultivate talent which can promote the spirit of the manifesto through narration as well as conduct research on the subject. Nearly 60,000 people have visited the exhibition to date.
Volunteers at the exhibition have read books related to The Communist Manifesto, studied the analysis of the manifesto by scholars and experts and passed three rounds of assessments－written tests on the history of the CPC, oral exams and a test in which they provide educational services at the exhibition－before they are deemed qualified for the job.
“I’ve developed a deeper understanding of Marxist theory through educating the visitors and learning their feedback. This is especially so when experts and scholars in the field come to visit,” says Xu Yayun, one of the team leaders and the tutor of a class of 2019 postgraduates from the Chinese language and literature school at Fudan.
In a reply to a letter from the team which was unveiled in June last year, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, encouraged CPC members to build firm ideals and convictions and strive to fulfill the Party’s original aspiration and mission.
Xu says the team has since strengthened its service in many aspects.
“We’ve expanded our knowledge of the Party’s history and conducted interpretation in other venues related to the Party’s history across the city,” she says.
“To take the visitor experience to a higher level, we are working on online exhibit guidance which will be available for visitors when they scan the QR codes on brochures or flyers. Exhibition interpretation in multiple languages may also be offered in the future.”
Chen Zhenxin, son of Chen Wangdao, has shared the story of his father translating the masterpiece with team members as well.
“My father started the translation in a wood storage room at the west side of his home in Yiwu, Zhejiang province,” he says.
“There he worked attentively without distraction, although the room was in disrepair, suffering from drafts and leaks,” he adds.
According to Chen Zhenxin, references his father kept for translation were the English and Japanese versions of The Communist Manifesto, along with an English-Chinese dictionary and a Japanese-Chinese dictionary.
Chen Wangdao, aided by language skills sharpened during four years of international study experience in disciplines including physics, mathematics and philosophy－as well as Marxism－at universities in Japan from 1915 to 1919, completed his translation in April 1920.
“I hope the team will continue to tell my father’s story and uphold ideals and convictions,” said Chen Zhenxin when he attended an activity held by Fudan University to celebrate the 99th anniversary of the Party’s foundation in July.