October 25, 2004

The Lighter Side of Copyright Violation

by PG

From the New York Times, "Bill Clinton's Fake Chinese Life":

Who knew that back in Bill Clinton's early days in Arkansas, the future president and his Uncle Buddy sat around and chewed the fat, ham fat to be precise, and talked about how China was one of the world's most ancient cultures and had produced Four Great Inventions, one of which was gunpowder?

Yet there it is, all that love of China and things Chinese, right in the latest bootlegged version of Mr. Clinton's autobiography, "My Life," sold on the cheap in mainland China and now retranslated back into English, most recently by Alex Beels [Columbia University Ph.D. candidate with special interest in Early Twentieth Century Intellectual Property Law] in the latest issue of Harper's Magazine. The fake version reveals a Clinton family obsessed with China's strong points, with how Chinese science and technology "left us in the dust." Readers will learn that the future president, to impress Hillary's mother, had rhapsodized about such things as the Eight Trigrams, documented in "The Book of Changes" several thousand years ago. Another retranslation of the pirated translation last summer has Mr. Clinton explaining to Hillary that his nickname is "Big Watermelon."


The pirated translations of Mr. Clinton's book also delete any references to the lack of freedom in China. But these fake publishers have certainly managed to take plenty of liberties with the text. One of the best examples is the very long opening sentence of Mr. Clinton's version, which takes 48 words to detail his birth, even the stormy weather that preceded the big event. The first sentence in the pirated Chinese version says: "The town of Hope, where I was born, has very good feng shui."

Perhaps what was gained in translation will convince Christopher Hitchens that President Clinton was not nearly as trashy as Hitchens thought him to be.

October 25, 2004 01:39 PM | TrackBack
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