Egyptian university hosts symposium on similarities between Egyptian, Chinese noted writers

2021-12-07 22:05:17 GMT2021-12-08 06:05:17(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

CAIRO, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Helwan University held a symposium on Tuesday to mark the birth anniversaries of Egypt's late Nobel laureate novelist Naguib Mahfouz and China's noted writer Ba Jin, focusing on the similarities between the lives and works of the two literary giants.

Held at the university's faculty of arts, the symposium was attended by professors, experts and students from the departments of Arabic and Chinese languages in Helwan and Cairo universities.

The discussions shed light on the biographies and trilogies of Mahfouz and Ba as well as how they influenced the contemporary literature in their own countries.

Yousra Kamel, director of Helwan University's Chinese-Egyptian Research Center and a professor at the Chinese department, said that the seminar was proposed by the center "as a cultural bridge connecting the Egyptian and the Chinese cultures."

"The literary works of Mahfouz and Ba have a lot of similarities, as their trilogies tell about the feudal communities in Egypt and China in the past, as well as the customs and traditions of the Egyptian and Chinese societies," Kamel told Xinhua.

He added that the seminar aimed to let the students know about the similarities between both novelists and their societies in the early 1900s.

Mahfouz was born in 1911 and died in 2006, while Ba was born in 1904 and died in 2005.

The speakers at the seminar included professors of Arabic literature from Helwan and Cairo universities, who spoke of how the works of both renowned authors were studied and analyzed in each other's cultures.

"Naguib Mahfouz himself was interested in the Chinese literature," said Hussein Hammouda, professor of Arabic literary criticism at the Faculty of Arts of the Cairo University, pointing out that most of Naguib Mahfouz's works were translated into Chinese.

"In addition to the translations of some of Ba's works into Arabic, there are articles and studies about him in Arabic, including some comparing him with Mahfouz and others analyzing some of his works," Hammouda added.

The popularity of Mahfouz in China has led to the increase of Arabic departments and researches in Chinese universities, according to Ahmed al-Saeed, CEO of Bayt Al-Hekma Cultural Group, a publishing house mainly devoted to the Arabic translation of Chinese books.

Al-Saeed added that there are at least 100 Chinese studies and researches on Mahfouz and more than 40 universities in China have Arabic departments.

He cited that a new Chinese version of Mahfouz's popular trilogy has recently been published by a major Chinese publishing house.

Lubna Sherif, a senior student of Chinese language at the Faculty of Arts of the Helwan University, told Xinhua that the symposium was very useful for her because she also studies literature, novel and history besides the language.

"The discussion shows us how the Egyptian and Chinese cultures are similar and even the feudal communities in both Egypt and China had a lot of things in common in the past, as portrayed in the works of Naguib Mahfouz and Ba Jin," the Egyptian student said. Enditem