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Exhibition | Fu Lei: Years of Youth in France

DEC . 23 2020
Peking University, December 23, 2020:The opening ceremony of the exhibition “Fu Lei: Years of Youth in France” was held in the School of Foreign Languages at Peking University on December 18. The exhibition, which will last until January 10, 2021, put on display historical materials about Fu Lei, China’s renowned author, translator and art critic.


Split into five sections: Ⅰ. Poitiers: Hello France, Ⅱ. Young People’s Palace: Plunging into the French Intellectual World, Ⅲ. Latin Quarter: The Art Circle, Ⅳ. From Paris to Rome, and Ⅴ. Chenonceaux Ship: Sino-French Friendship, the exhibition retraces the footsteps of a young Fu Lei between 1928 and 1931, including his time in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, as well as his experiences on a ship back to his homeland. It included letters, pictures and published articles, many of which have never been put on public display before.

Professor Dong Qiang, head of the French Department in the PKU School of Foreign Languages and a corresponding member of L'Institut de France (The French Institute), is the scientific counselor of the exhibition. At the opening ceremony, Professor Dong explained the turn of events that brought the exhibition to life. While poring over Historical Studies of Modern Literature, Professor Dong came across an article referencing material relating to Fu Lei’s studies in France. Immediately, Professor Dong reached out to authors of the article Liu Zhixia and Lu Lan. Coincidently, the couple were previous students of Liang Zongdai, who was once head of the French Department in the PKU School of Foreign Languages. As the couple were initially collecting materials on Liang’s life in France, they also uncovered precious materials about Fu Lei. Professor Dong then decided to invite them as curators of the exhibition. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu and Lu were unable to make it to Peking University. As such, Professor Dong took it upon himself to organize the exhibition, with support from L’Institut de France, French Embassy in China, and the government of Shanghai’s Zhoupu Town (Fu Lei’s hometown).

Dong Qiang
Fu Lei (1908-1966) translated many French works of literature and philosophy, such as those by Honore de Balzac, Roman Rolland and Francois Voltaire, into Chinese, exerting great influence on generations of Chinese readers and writers. Home Letters by Fu Lei, a collection of family letters between Fu Lei and his wife Zhu Meifu, and their eldest son Fu Cong during the 1950s and early 1960s, is regarded as a classic read, excerpts of which are included in middle school textbooks.

Fu Lei

Group photo at the opening ceremony 

In 2009, the Fu Lei Prize, also known as the Fu Lei Translation and Publishing Award, was set up by the French Embassy in China to reward the works of Chinese translators and publishers translated from French publications. Professor Dong serves as the president of the prize's organizing committee.

Written by: Xu Yuanrui, Zhou Siyan
Edited by: Jacob Tomkins, Huang Weijian
Photo credit to: PKU Media Center
Source: PKU School of Foreign Languages, China Daily