KUALA LUMPUR: Local non-Chinese readers will be able to appreciate the essence of the famed Dream of the Red Chamber when the Malay version of the classic novel hits the shelves.
Commending the translation efforts, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said it would spark deep discussions among people of all racial and cultural backgrounds, which could forge closer ties.
“This will allow the Chinese literary masterpiece to enter the Malay circle,” he said.
Liow, who is MCA president, was delivering a speech to the reporters at the opening of the Dream of the Red Chamber resource centre at the main library of Universiti Malaya yesterday.
The collection was donated by former Transport Minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy.
The translation of the acclaimed novel was the idea of Chan and former Yayasan Karyawan chief executive officer, the late Datuk Dr Hassan Ahmad.
The translation was now in its final stage and would be completed in September, Liow said.
Redology – the academic study of Dream of the Red Chamber – dissects a myriad of aspects in the novel, ranging from costumes, food and beverages, garden design, medicine, wellness, character image, arts and poetry to music.
With Dream of the Red Chamber available in Malay, more local scholars could delve into the research of its aesthetic values and contribute to the global conversation on Redology.
“I look forward to seeing the first set of Malay commentaries on one of China’s finest literary masterpieces in the near future,” Liow said during the press conference.
He added that the collection would put UM on the world map as a significant Redology hub, and invited the audience to honour Chan with a standing ovation for his generous contribution.
China’s Embassy in Malaysia cultural office director Zhang Jiexin said the Malay version marked an important milestone in the promotion and circulation of the masterpiece in Malaysia.
To date, the novel has already been translated into 23 different languages.
Zhang credited Chinese education for laying a strong foundation for the popularity of Chinese literature here, including Dream of the Red Chamber.
Expressing his gratitude to Chan, UM acting vice-chancellor Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said the contribution would make a very well-known collection in the university for students, staff members and the public.
“It is Chan’s passion in Redology that prompted him to donate this wonderful collection to his alma mater,” he said.