Bingshan Liu: A translator well-known at home and abroad

Bingshan Liu (1927-2010), born in Zhengzhou, Henan, is a member of the China Writers Association, a member of the International Shakespeare Association, a director of the Shakespeare Research Association of China, a member of the Translators Association of China, and a doctoral adviser. He has made great contributions to Henan University's joining in the first group of universities granted with doctoral program in English.

His book A Short History of English Literature is still popular so far; his masterpiece work A Shakespeare Dictionary for Chinese Students is the first large-scale Shakespeare dictionary (original) compiled by Chinese scholars, and it is also recognized as the first Shakespeare dictionary (original) in the world over the past 100 years.

Bingshan Liu had a keen interest in drama and literature since he was little. He received higher education in Chongqing University, where he majored in Department of Chinese Language and Literature and later in Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. He was then admitted to the Department of Western Languages of Peking University in 1950 before beginning his teaching career in Kaifeng Normal University (now Henan University) as a teacher in the School of Foreign Languages in 1957.

Bingshan Liu considered literary translation and teaching as cornerstones in his career. He was the first in China to compile A Short History of English Literature in English, which has been sold more than 300,000 copies and still popular to this day. This work was praised as the top "regional history of literature" in Summary of Chinese Literary Studies in 20th Century published by Peking University. It was also recognized as the must-read for Chinese students' learning about English literature by Rubenstein, a well-known scholar in America.

Bingshan Liu has had numerous outstanding translation works, such as A Selection of English Classic Essays, Essays of Elia, Books and Portraits, On the Cries of London, and Saint Joan. His work of Essays of Elia was published by SDX Joint Publishing Company in Beijing, which was highly praised by Professor David E. Pollard of the University of London in 1988.

He started his work on A Shakespeare Dictionary for Chinese Students in 1989, when he was 62. The English used in Shakespeare's plays was that of 400 years ago, known as the early modern English, is strikingly different from the contemporary English. It comprises of a great number of idioms and slang words from Elizabethan era (1558–1603), which burdens the comprehension of English language learners. Facing this, he decided to compile a dictionary to assist Chinese students in understanding the original text of Shakespeare plays. To realize the pursuit, he worked with Chu Guolei, his partner, to make annotations to 23 Shakespeare's plays, including Shakespeare's early comedies and tragedies, six comedies, four tragedies and eight historical plays. The annotation was finished in 1998, by then, a total of 41,200 annotation cards, which filled 24 cartons was composed. The dictionary is finally published in 2002. Its publication came as a surprise to the world, and was praised as a milestone in China's research about Shakespeare. The dictionary was granted the China National Book Award.

In the hope of improving the contents of the dictionary, he buried himself in researching other works of Shakespeare even though he is now in his seventies. The enormous complexity the task presents did a disservice to his health: he was even sent to hospital due to overwork. He kept working on translation in the last three years of his life.

Bingshan Liu died on December 22, 2010, with 6 annotations that were just finished beside him. His work, A Shakespeare Dictionary for Chinese Students, became the legacy he left to later generations.

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