Diplomat promotes German literature in Vietnam

(VOVWORLD) - For the first time, the entire 67-poem Lyrical Intermezzo of renowned German author Heinrich Heine's collection Book of Songs has been translated into Vietnamese by translator Chu Thu Phuong, a diplomat who spent years living in Germany. Some Heine poems were translated by Vietnamese poets half a century ago, but most of the translations were based on French and Russian versions. 
Diplomat promotes German literature in Vietnam - ảnh 1Chu Thu Phuong (Photo nhandan.com.vn ) 

Chu Thu Phuong decided to translate Heine’s poems after a debate with her friends in a literature forum while she was working at the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany in 2013. At that time, Phuong was struck by the question: “How do you understand Heine?" It took her more than a year to find the answer because there are only a few translations of his works. Phuong started with Heine’s most popular collection: Book of Songs. At first, she translated only a few poems. But they were not sufficient for full understanding, so she translated more and more, all from the Lyrical Intermezzo section. Chu Thu Phuong said: “Heine’s poems use very simple words that are easy even for ordinary people to understand. Some argue that’s not poetic enough but I think it’s their simplicity that makes Heine’s poems stand out”.

It took Phuong more than a year to translate 67 poems.

In order to learn more about Heine, Phuong went to Marburg, Germany to meet Guenter Giesenfeld, a professor of German Literature and chairman of the Viet Nam - Germany Friendship Association, and translator Marian Ngo.

She also visited Heine's homeland, Duesseldorf, to find out more. Phuong again: “Heine’s use of language has rhythms and musical characteristics. Music researcher Nguyen Van Nam showed me the beauty in Heine’s poems. With his advice, I managed to translate the rhythms of the poems”.

A concert combining traditional music and the romantic poems of Heinrich Heine from his Lyrical Intermezzo collection was organized at the Goethe Institute in August. Poet Nguyen Duy said: “Chu Thu Phuong studied in Germany and knows a lot about German culture. Some poets had previously translated Heine’s poems from a French version. Phuong translated directly from the original version. I was so surprised to hear Heine’s poems set to traditional Vietnamese music”.

Before Lyrical Intermezzo, Phuong translated some verses by well-known German authors like Goethe and Brecht into Vietnamese.