Top Chinese literary couple's letters on auction

  • AFP, Beijing
  • |
  • Updated: May 23, 2013 10:57 IST

Around 100 letters and manuscripts by one of China's top literary couples are to go under the hammer next month, a Chinese auction house said Wednesday, amid reports of a row over privacy.

Qian Zhongshu died in 1997 but remains a household name in China for his novel "Fortress Besieged", about late-1930s middle-class Chinese society. It was first published in 1947 and made into a popular television drama in 1990.

The title is part of its most quoted line: "Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out."

Qian's widow Yang Jiang, 102, is an author in her own right and also translated the Spanish epic Don Quixote into Chinese.

Many of the letters are between the two writers and a publisher in Hong Kong in the 1980s, and include private criticism of well-known contemporary academics, the Wenhui Daily newspaper said.

"Correspondence is a private matter. Why should it be made public?" it quoted Yang as saying.

An executive of Sungari International Auction, who declined to be named, confirmed the sale to AFP but refused to disclose the vendor's identity.

"We will take into account the concerns," she said, without elaborating, adding that the items would first be exhibited in Beijing and Wuxi in the eastern province of Jiangsu, the home city of the couple's families.

The company declined to reveal the letters' reserve price.


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