The first works by Henryk Sienkiewicz were translated into Chinese over a hundred years ago at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, over a century later, The Knights of the Cross (Polish title: Krzyżacy) has been published in Chinese as an audiobook, thanks to Audioteka and the Polish Book Institute.
Krzysztof Czeczot, director and producer of the Polish audiobook Krzyżacy and co-producer and one of the creators of its Chinese version, said that the initiative was inspired by the Polish audio version which premiered in April earlier this year.
This is not by chance –2016 is the year Poland celebrates the Year of Henryk Sienkiewicz and the country is a guest of honour at the Beijing International Book Fair. Czeczot explained:
Arguably, everyone knows that Henryk Sienkiewicz was a Nobel Prize winner. No wonder that it is through the works of this prominent writer – works which are so important for Poles – that the Polish Book Institute and Audioteka want to promote Polish culture. This justifies choosing Krzyżacy. What is interesting is that the book is familiar to the Chinese readership.
The Polish version of the audiobook was recorded by accomplished actors such as Marian Dziędziel, Józef Pawłowski, Magdalena Cielecka, Robert Więckiewicz, Andrzej Chyra, Jerzy Trela, and Magdalena Walach.
The Chinese version also features the country’s most prominent names: actors who specialise in dubbing, such as Qi Kejian, Zhang Yunlong, Chen Hong, and the very experienced Zhan Ze. The audiobook was directed by acclaimed Chinese artist Guo Zhengjian. Czeczot added:
This project was carried out over several months. The recordings were organised by Audioteka with the support of the Chinese publisher, and they later came into our hands. It was a fairly laborious process. First, the Chinese actors familiarised themselves with the Polish adaptation – this is important, to identify a correct way of interpreting and acting it. Next, recordings in Chinese were made. Finally the whole material went through post-production and was complemented with sound effects and music.
On 21st August 2016, several days before the Chinese audiobook's premiere, Krzysztof Czeczot, four musicians, sound producers and Audioteka representatives will travel to China to give two performances under the title of Krzyżacy China Live with music and the participation of Chinese actors. Czeczot continued:
We will perform the first episode of our production. The Chinese actors will read fragments of the translated text which will be accompanied by live music and special effects.
The artist also admitted that such an event is a great challenge for the director:
There are certain language barriers. Frankly, I have memorised the whole first episode, but even so, directing an event whose content I know but whose performing language I do not understand is a big challenge. Fortunately, we can count on help from translators. I'm hoping for the best. We have given several dozen such concerts in Poland, so we are sure we will do this right. I hope that Krzyżacy will blaze a trail for similar enterprises in future.
It will be possible to hear the first results of the Polish-Chinese collaboration from 24th August 2016. The complete Chinese Krzyżacy translation will be available at Osorno.pl and Audioteka.com.
Sources: PAP; ed.: AZ, transl.: EP, August 2016