Winner of new Translation Medal announced

AAH News Academy, Media release

The Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) is delighted to announce the winner of the inaugural Medal for Excellence in Translation.

The winner is John Minford, Emeritus Professor of Chinese at the Australian National University, for I Ching (Yijing): The Book of Change, translated from the Chinese. The I Ching – regarded for two millennia as the essential guide to the universe – is a foundational text for Chinese culture.

The AAH Medal for Excellence in Translation is awarded for an outstanding translation into English of a work of any genre, from any language or period, by an Australian translator.

“Minford’s volume bids fair to become the definitive translation of this primary Chinese classic,” said Brian Nelson FAHA, Chair of the assessment panel. “An imposing example of the translator-scholar as cultural intermediary, it is both a tour de force of scholarship and a distinguished literary achievement.”

“The Academy offers its warmest congratulations to John Minford for this richly deserved award,” said Academy President, John Fitzgerald FAHA.

On receiving news of his win, Minford said: “I have always hoped that my new version of the ancient Chinese classic of divination the I Ching … might be a useful book for modern readers wishing to delve into its often startling depths, might enable them, in these troubled times, to benefit from the deep wisdom contained in its pages.”

“… as generations of Chinese commentators have insisted over the past two thousand years, it is not just a book, but a spirit. And most surely the medal belongs to the book and its living spirit, not to its translator,” said Minford. “Perhaps, to use the words of the oracle itself, at least some of our ‘aspirations have been fulfilled’.”

Minford will be presented with his Medal at an Academy ceremony in Melbourne on 18 November 2016.

Two other outstanding candidates were shortlisted for the prize – Stuart Robson for his translation of The Old Javanese Rāmāyana and Phoebe Weston-Evans for her translation of Patrick Modiano’s Paris Nocturne.

The Academy is grateful for the support given to establish the Award from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and three Australian universities – Monash University, The University of Melbourne and The University of Western Australia – each with a particular interest in translation.