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For Chinese PhD student, it's not just a fairy tale

Inspired by a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, PhD student Wenjie Li is in Copenhagen looking at different Chinese translations of fairy tales

There was no particular reason why Chinese PhD student Wenjie Li ended up focussing three years of her life on Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.

Growing up in Yichang City, just downstream from what has since become the massive Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, she read Andersen’s tales in school, just like 20 million other Chinese primary school pupils do every year.

But when her career as a lecturer in Comparative Literature at the China University of Petroleum in Beijing took off, the finer points of interest in theories of translation took off.

Read article: ‘Fairy tale is bigger than the bible’, here.

Do they mean the same thing?

When she followed her husband to Denmark in 2008, a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in the Danish provincial town of Odense was something of an epiphany.

»I was inspired when I first visited the museum. There were loads of translations from the Danish, and a question sprung to mind: Do the fairy tales seem the same to the Danish readers as they do to the Chinese readers? This is what I want to try and find out,« Wenjie Li says.

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