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China literary couple's letters pulled from auction

books Updated: Jun 03, 2013 12:16 IST

AFP
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A sale of correspondence by one of China's top literary couples has been cancelled, a Chinese auction house said, after the widow voiced a strong protest over infringement of privacy.



Monday's planned sale of three letters by Qian Zhongshu, who died in 1997 but remains a household name in China for his novel "Fortress Besieged", and his widow Yang Jiang, 102, has been abandoned, Poly International Auction said in a statement.

Yang, who is an author and translator in her own right, had condemned the sale over the weekend, threatening to take legal action.

"There are numerous opportunities to make money, but you cannot... trade others' privacy," she said, according to the Yangtse Evening Post.

Poly's statement, dated Sunday, said: "The company decided immediately to withdraw the three items from the auction after we noticed Madam Yang Jiang's (statement) to defend her rights."

The row came after another Chinese company, Sungari International Auction, triggered controversy when it said it would sell around 100 letters and manuscripts by the couple.

It has called off a seminar about the auction, according to its website, but the items themselves are still listed to go under the hammer on June 21.

"Fortress Besieged" is 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."