Putting the Baidu Tieba Comments In Context

So when I first translated those comments, it was strictly for amusement, but I’ve seen that some of you have been rather uncertain as to how to take them.  Some have interpreted it as Chinese people being racist, while others are wondering if the Chinese know of some super-awesome novels that we don’t about.  In this post, I’d hopefully address some of these things to help you guys get a more complete picture and better understand the Chinese reaction.

Fusing Profound Mysteries – Classy English vs Bad Prose

For many Chinese, asking them to understand why these novels are being translated into English is as hard as fusing two types of profound mysteries together.  This is because in China, generally speaking, English (and the ability to speak/read in it well) is considered a mark of class, success, fine education, etc.; it’s almost like how some of us in the West view Latin, if Latin weren’t a dead language.  At the same time, many people in China ‘love to hate’ some of these webnovels for the same reasons like how many Westerners like to hate on Michael Bay movies, Dan Brown novels, or heck, Twilight; they aren’t exactly ‘fine art’, the prose can be indisputably awful, and the very fact that they are extremely successful despite that just increases the level of saltiness!

So for many Chinese, their ‘balls hurt’ when they see this; they ‘know’ English is classy, but they also ‘know’ that some of these webnovels are hacky in terms of prose and sometimes plot/characterization.  How to reconcile these two truths which are seemingly opposite?!  As fusing profound mysteries to find a profound truth is hard, for the most part, the easiest answer is just to say….these foreigners are just crazy/don’t have any idea what good Chinese literature is!

Location, Location, Location – Different Places, Different Reactions

The thread where I referenced many of the comments I translated was a very critical one, but the specific subforum (much like a ‘subreddit’) was the ‘Bilibili’ subforum, which focuses on anime and manga, and not on light novels.  As with any enormous community, the subcommunities within are often playfully dismissive of other ones (geeks vs nerds, comics vs manga, Naruto vs Bleach, etc.), and that was one of the reason for why the thread was strongly negative.  In some of the other subforums, especially the ones devoted to 奇幻 fantasy webnovels, the reaction was MUCH more positive, and some people even started a game of ‘guess the webnovel’, where they would post the name in English and have people try and guess what the original Chinese name was!  There is also quite a good deal of praise for the translations, so don’t think that it’s all negative!

My Grass vs Your Treasure – Market Saturation

The novels that you have been reading, especially Stellar and CD, are tremendously, tremendously popular in China; these stories have made their authors multimillionaires, and have tens of millions of PAID pageviews (each), and have been spun off into manga (ugh), successful MMORPG’s, and more.  But at the same time, China has a bad ‘copycat’ culture, and so in the past 8-10+ years, there has been a veritable deluge of similar types of Xianxia/fantasy webnovels.  8-10 years of anything is enough to make someone sick to death of something!  And of course, just like in the West, the more popular something is, the more ‘cool’ it is to hate on it (to be frank, IET’s prose makes that easy!), which is why you are saw so many comments suggesting other things to translate (many of the suggestions were in completely different genres).

I’ve flipped through quite a few of the suggestions, and quite frankly, most of them aren’t nearly as well known or as successful in China as some of the works we are doing here, even though the prose might be better.  So when you see them say, “XXXX sucks, why don’t they work on YYYY instead?”  Just imagine it being like a ‘true’ otaku dismissively saying, “Why do you read Naruto?  That’s junk.  Go read some real manga like [manga no one has heard of].”  Or maybe, “Dragon Ball Z was so repetitive and boring and blahblahblah!  You should check out some real anime like [anime no one has seen].”  Otaku-pride!  That’s really pretty much it!

Oh Please God Don’t Let Them Think This Of Us

Here’s the last reason for some of their reactions; Chinese people are very proud of their culture and literature.  One of the undertones from the comments, I could tell, was, “Oh please God, don’t let the foreigners think this stuff is representative of Chinese culture” and “oh god, how embarrassing!”.  And I kinda understand this!  My own mother, when reading some of these novels, recently expressed the concern of, “I’m worried that these foreigners are going to think that Chinese are all violent and will kill people at the drop of a hat for ‘not giving face’!” [LOL!!!]  I’ve seen quite a few comments like, “oh that’s just how Chinese literature is” or “that’s how it was in ancient China” with regards to all the violence, the recent graphic scene in MGA, slavery, and more.  And, well…no it isn’t xD.  These stories that we are working on in Xianxia/Qihuan/Xuanhuan are a small subset under the online ‘fantasy’ genre, and they are basically a ‘power fantasy’ type genre; very popular, but they can’t be considered ‘representative’ of ‘Chinese literature’.

So anyhow, there you go!  That’s some of the reasons underlying the negative reaction you saw in the previous post.  I hope this helps everyone get a better understanding of why there were the reactions they were!

Okay, lost an hour typing this.  Time to go to work, both real work and chapter work!  🙂

125 thoughts on “Putting the Baidu Tieba Comments In Context” - NO SPOILERS

  1. Lol, it’s interesting to see these reactions, quite a lot of them seems surprised that things they consider as ‘domestic’ matters such as these webnovels garner such an international audience.

    With all that increased attention to wuxiapedia, I’m wondering whether we’ll see new rounds of DDOS attacks ! Haha

  2. Honestly, Ren it was actually pretty funny, and interesting to see their reactions. Sure, sure might taken a bit of offensive, but I knew they mean no harm. So I do hope you share things like this in the future.

  3. RWX应该能看懂中文,我就不 ball hurt 的用英文了,其实大家听说有人做这种大工程的时候,都是很震撼的,只是你们选择的不能说是最好的(虽然最合适),大家会觉得它们也许会让外国人觉得中国的网文水平不够好
    但认真想想这几本是很合适的,因为它们最适合初次接触网文的人(中国网文读者中80%是从IET和三少开始自己的网文之路的)看书也是一个慢慢提升的过程,如果一开始就把所谓的”好作品“介绍给外国读者们,他们并不能真正的理解到其中优秀的地方
    另外想说一点的是你xianxia栏目里,ISSTH 是 xianxia,其他的算奇幻(fantasy),这一点应该让读者们明白,中国最出名的仙侠是西游记(你们应该都知道它吧) 然后 诛仙 仙剑神曲 青城剑仙 都种是仙侠里不错的,不过确实很难翻译的,作者文笔很好,翻译起来很吃力

    1. Don’t worry, personally I think that most of us understand that there are many Profound Truths in the art of writing, regardless of language and culture. IET’s and San shao’s works are only a small slice of the pie, and we wouldn’t succumb to generalizing them as the sole representation of Chinese literature. We are appreciating these works as entertainment; I mean seriously who, in their right mind, sitting on their porcelain throne, wouldn’t giggle deviously, while reading about Bebe’s mischievious deeds? Maybe after these works are fully translated, more “advanced” works are on the menu, who knows?

      Aaaaaand if your balls hurt after reading this, I recommend a bottle of Bai Hua You. You’ll feel refreshed in every way. Enjoy! : )

      P.S. Well, the “Xianxia & more” title may be a bit misleading, but I think Ren has made that clear in previous posts, no?

      P.P.S Bebe-camp all the way!!

  4. Hey, I just went through your whole post and I’d like to say that it was really well-thought out and it answers a lot of questions from the comments that were posted. Personally, it didn’t annoy me since the internet is filled with people posting the first thing that comes to mind without a care of how it might affect another person’s views. To be precise, people are crude and no one really cares about anyone else’s feelings. Which is fine! I’ve learned to walk past this and just focus on what I’m interested in.. on the other hand, I can also sympathize, since I could see how the chinese (or any culture) would you know? Want to present themselves at their best and take pride in it. I’m sure that they are all very happy that we are enjoying reading something that has come from the authors of their country and I must say that they have the right to be so because its true! So, thanks for posting this and I’d like to say that your mom is really sweet. The line, “I’m worried that these foreigners are going to think that Chinese are all violent and will kill people at the drop of a hat for ‘not giving face’!” — really made my day! Cause you know, I had been thinking that the Chinese are probably very careful about ‘wanting face’ and its a fine line you walk if you don’t give them any.. but this bit about it made me realize that maybe its not -that- dangerous to not ‘give them face’.. lol

  5. To each his or her own lol, one mans trash is another mans treasure. Everyone is bound to have a diff opinion, we do our thing they do theirs. Don’t see what the big deal is about. Time to get catch up on CD lol

  6. It’s pretty sad that people have to be worried that what’s written in a novel will make others think the entire race is the same. Another thing is that people are too biased about other races just because of how the media portrays them. I mean come-on the media only puts on what will get the most attention which is mostly bad news and it’s mostly over-exaggerated especially foreign matters. Well every race has it’s share of stupid people and stupid can’t be fixed.

  7. made my day. what laugh, thanks RWX. we should not get angry u know, we should technically be smirking at the pathetic sight of such unrestrained vulgarity

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