Ramblings: To make up for the wait, here are two chapters 🙂 Lol, I actually had always intended to translate these two chapter together to shorten the wait before their meeting, and also because ch.16 is quite short. So enjoy everyone!
T/N: Any notes at the end of relevant paragraphs that are indicated with an asterisk * are usually my own translation notes, unless I say otherwise in square brackets. Words in square brackets [ ] in sentences are also words I added for clearer meaning.
Chapter 15: I cross again
Casting my hands around, I feel something soft and fine. My eyes open, then quickly close after getting assaulted by the sunlight. My landing this time is on a desert once again. I seem to have an affinity with deserts, though I do not know if it is the same era and place. I stand up, inspect all the equipment inside my bag, and then check my upgraded time-travel watch. Fortunately, the signal light is green, meaning everything is okay, and that the scientists’ efforts over the past 5 months have not gone to waste. Having learned their lessons last time, the scientists stopped using the unstable solar energy to power the device, and instead switched to using sophisticated Lithium batteries. I heard that the batteries were BYD’s newest product, much better than Sony’s.
Of course, my successful time-travel last time has caused a huge uproar, on the same par as Yang Li Wei’s first travel into space. I disappeared for more than five months. The research team was unable to confirm whether I was successful or dead. During that time, my boss was worried sick, having no clue how to explain to my parents [what was going on]. Until one afternoon, when I fell out of the sky and onto the willow tree outside the experiment room, breaking many of its green branches.
During the past 5 months in the 21st century, I was very busy. I had to go through a physical examination, submit reports, and also embark on a trip to Xinjiang with my boss for a month. The ruins of the Kuchan capital are located at the center of the old and new Kuqa City, which the locals called the Ancient City Pilang. I followed the archeologists around to study and examine the ruins of the capital, the citadel, the “strange” temple, and the main square. Then I helped the linguists decipher the Tocharian language in the museum.
Finally I wandered around on my own amongst the ruins. Looking at the rows of houses, the farmlands in the surrounding areas, I could see the foundation that was laid over a thousand years ago, but not a trace is left of any other features. I was overcome with a feeling that couldn’t be described. For me, everything was whole and animated a few months ago, yet now it was merely a site of ruins 1650 years old. Those people full of vigor from a few months ago, in a flash had become a few words on paper. Standing on the hills where a magnificent citadel once stood, my ears rang as if a gentle voice was still speaking to them.
“Ai Qing, tomorrow I will give you a tour around Kucha.”
“To have such great snowfall, the Kuchan people are really blessed.”
“Don’t be scared. Keep your eyes closed, they’ll be fine in a moment.”
Every time that happened, I would frantically look at all directions, and only when I realized that the brown kasaya robe I saw was merely an illusion, did I come around. Rajiva, are we perhaps in the same space, only 1650 years apart? Are you doing well? I smiled sadly, what a foolish question that was. His destiny, how could I not know?
When we went to study the Kizil Caves, I stood in a daze for a long while before the statue of Kumarajiva laid in front of the caves. The statue depicted Kumarajiva around 30 to 40 years of age. One leg is folded and his right hand is placed on the knee of that leg. Wearing the kasaya robe that exposes one shoulder on his tall and thin body, together with that high forehead and long brows, the statue gives off an image of great intelligence, a big heart and an otherworldly aura. Although not as animated as the real person, I felt the sculptor had at least captured his aura accurately. I had not seen Rajiva’s appearance as an adult, but looking at the statue, I fell into a trance. I took a photo of me standing in the statue’s shadow. At night while writing my reports, every time I got tired I would pull out the photo to look at. I wished I could see Rajiva again, the Rajiva in adulthood.
[T/N: next paragraph omitted, it’s just about a mummy in the museum that has flattened forehead like that of Jiva’s and other Kuchan royalty].
The original plan was that after my research trip at Kuqa, I would have a meeting with Buddhism experts on Kumarajiva. Even though I only knew Rajiva for a short time, it was still first-hand experience—any information that could be gleamed was invaluable. But all of a sudden, my boss received a phone call from the research team [at the university], so the two of us hurried back to the experiment room to prepare for the second crossing, ah no, the fourth time to be exact.
This time, all the equipment was upgraded. I no longer had that uncomfortable feeling when flying in space like last time. However, they could not control where and when I would land, only estimated it to be around two thousand years ago. The room for error was about 500 years, give or take, meaning I could be anywhere between the last years of the Warring States and the Northern Southern Dynasties. From last time’s experience, I decided to wear the loose Han outfit once again. This outfit was quite common and was also in use for the longest time in history.
I look at the scenery before me. The similarities between the two times I time-travelled give me a strong feeling that I have indeed returned to that place! As such, my heart no longer panics. I try to figure out how to escape this desert and find a place with people. After looking around, I realize that I have landed at the edge of the desert, near a small forest of poplar and red willow trees. The poplar trees far ahead seem quite dense and green. I decide to head in that direction.
Right now is the end of May, so noon on the desert is extremely oppressive. I need to find water. The poplar forest seems so dense, so the water source must not be far. When a big lake appears in front of my eyes, I get so excited that I fly to it.
It is hard to imagine that in this vast desert, such a big lake would exist. More importantly, there are people near the lake. Happy that I am able find my own kind amongst this wilderness, I hurry over. But when I almost reach their side, I reel to a sudden halt. My first instinct is to turn around and run in the opposite direction. But I have not yet run a few steps before an arrow thuds into the spot next to my foot. Terrified, I stop and put my hands up:
“Don’t shoot! I surrender!”
I then get taken to the group of people I saw earlier, around twenty in total. Looking at the way they dress and carry themselves, faces all crooked and scary, it is obvious that they are bandits. There are around ten more people who are kneeling on the ground, their hands and feet tied, trembling in fear and glancing at me in sympathy. They look like Persians. Next to them are a number of horses and camels, grazing without a care. I guess that they must be a group of merchants that got robbed on the way.
Well, I did land near the Silk Road, where robbery often happened on a regular basis. This is the first time I have gotten involved in this kind of occurrence; will I have to resort to weapons? There is a small stun gun in the pocket of my anti-radiation jacket. My boss warned that only in emergencies, am I allowed to use it, because it is a modern invention and its presence will alter history. My boss always tells me to not do anything that will alter history, but did he not think that my time-travelling itself is one such action?
The bandits are discussing with each other in Tocharian that I can understand, though there is a dialect, not the Kuchan accent I knew.
I wrack my brains trying to figure out how to escape. I am not as resourceful as Xuanzang, who was able to use words to disarm the bandits he met on his way to India, making them surrender and follow the Buddhist way. So after some observation on the situation between the two sides, I decide: to defeat enemies, one must first capture the leader.
I quietly put one hand into my pocket and touch the gun. Fortunate for me, the bandits see me as a weak girl so did not bother tying me up like the Persians. I smile sweetly at the bearded man on the carpet, who is eating his grilled meat in a carefree manner. I inch closer to him and coyly speak in Tocharian: “Great Lord…”
I bite down my lips in an attempt to shake off the tremble that is taking over me.
The brute smiles and extends his greasy hand towards me. I take another step forward and make it seems I am about to fall into his lap, but at the last second, I suddenly pull out my gun and shoot him. This stun gun is quite impressive. The brute has not time to react before falling down in a heap. Using the moment of confusion, I take out five more bandits nearest to me. Using my most authoritative voice, I tell the rest of them: “Lay down your weapons and I will not kill you!”
To scare them further, I shout: “This is a poison that acts very fast, if you are not afraid, come here and try!”
Perhaps my weapon from the 21st century gave them quite a scare. The remaining dozen bandits can only look at their unmoving brothers on the ground. Of course I was only bluffing. My stun gun is very small, can only shoot an opponent within five metres distance. So when the thieves lay down all their sabres, bows and swords, I let out a quiet breath [of relief]; my clothes are soaked with sweat at the back. I hurry over to where the Persians are to undo their bindings. But the knots are too tight so I end up pulling out my Swiss Army Knife to finish the task.
[T/N: Ai Qing is quite a badass, eh? Courage is not fearlessness, but the ability to take action even in fear.]
I do not have to worry about the rest. The remaining bandits are scared of the weapon I have in my hand, and faced with a group of armed Persians chasing them, they quickly run away. The Persians use their most solemn ceremony to thank me. In their group, there are a couple of people who can speak Han, and one person who knows Tocharian. Even though they are not fluent, but with both languages filling in each other’s gaps and the use of body language, we can understand each other for the most part.
I pull out a map collection from my backpack and ask them to locate where we are. This map collection is very special. It was drawn according to known geography 500 years before and after the Han dynasty. I turn to the page on the Western Regions. Because it is written in Han, it takes a long while before they can point out a location relative to where we are, which is near Luntai (Bügür). I examine the map carefully and realize I have landed near the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. To have a field of grass in the extremely arid Taklamakan Desert, it must be the famous Lop Nor Lake* ! This place was inhabited by the ancient Lop Nor people who survived by fishing in this lake. But I do not see any houses around here. Perhaps they reside at another edge of the lake. Whether those bandits were the Lop Nor people, it’s hard to say. Luntai is located about 80km from Kucha. Using the camel’s speed (on average 20-30km/day), I estimate that it would take at most 4 days to get to Kucha.
*a former salt lake in China, now largely dried-up, located between the Taklamakan and Kumtag deserts in the southeastern portion of Xinjiang, China; also known as the “mysterious moving lake”.
Kucha, every time I think of that place, my heart would beat fast and that thin, lanky figure would appear before eyes. I wonder how old he is now. I ask the Persians what year it is. They can only supply me with some information:
- The Central Plains is still in the Former Qin state of Fu Jian (though they are not clear the year of reign).
- The Kuchan king is still Bai Chun (they only know he is around 40 years of age).
- Only heard that Kumarajiva is a famous monk (the Persians follow Zoroastrianism, an old religion, so they do not know much about Kumarajiva, a Buddhist monk), and about 20-30 years of age.
- They just passed Kucha and are on their way to Chang’an. But because I just saved their lives, they are willing to accompany me back to Kucha before resuming their journey.
It’s not that I do not want to go to Chang’an. If my boss is here, he would have told me to depart for Chang’an immediately, and thus achieved another aim—researching the famous Silk Road since the Northern and Southern Dynasties. But another voice keeps ringing inside me, urging me to go to that place, to meet him again. After reaching adulthood, how will Kumarajiva look like? If I can meet him again, my research will become more meaningful. Furthermore, I did promise Pusyseda that I would definitely return. I have to keep my promise, no?
We quickly gather water and begin our journey, afraid the bandits will return. Those that are lying unconscious will recover after 24 hours. It’s very likely that they will exact revenge. Everyone is afraid and wants to leave this place as far behind as possible.
I adjust the time on my watch back two hours, to match Xinjiang’s local time.
By the time we arrive at a camping location, the sky has become full of stars. It is a site of ruins, no longer habited by people. According to the Persians’ pronunciation, this place is called Tahanqi. The site seems very old, the walls have survived years without maintenance, most of them have collapsed, and under the moonlit night, the ruins appear even more desolate. There are farmlands around so we must have gotten out of the Taklakaman Desert.
We set camp near the walls. The Persians generously set up one for me as well. The man who could speak Han tries to tell me that this place is connected to the Han dynasty. But because that person’s Han is not fluent, it is only after many body gestures, do I somewhat get what he is saying. He tells me, this citadel was built by a Han person, a great general, whose strategic skills are like that of a god. A Han person? Great general?
Can it be the Tagan City that was built by Ban Chao? Tahanqi and Tagan sound similar. It might be the Persians pronounced it wrong.
My heart beats fast. The Tagan City was part of Kucha, and was where Ban Chao set his military base when he received the title of Protector General of the Western Regions. In the modern times, the exact location of this city is still unknown.
Then does it mean that mystery is finally solved?
[T/N: The next 6 paragraphs are omitted. They basically recount a brief history of Ban Chao’s military conquest of the Xiongnu people and how he helped establish Han control over the Tarim Basin/Western Regions, from 73 CE to 122 CE. Ban Chao was indeed a famous Han (as in Eastern Han Dynasty) general. His family had a line of famous historians—father Ban Biao, elder brother Ban Gu, younger sister Ban Zhao—who wrote the historical text Book of Han, which recorded the history of the Western Han Dynasty.]
I stare at the broken walls underneath the moonlight, the ruins of a glorious past that are silently recounting the military prowess of the father and son generals [Ban Chao and his son] from over 250 years ago. The Western Regions’ Frontier Command, now merely a desolate site of rubbles. By the 21st century, not even a trace of the ruins will even remain. In the night, listening to the Persians praying to their scriptures beside the fire, which I do not understand, their religious zeal adds a sacredness to the air, making the atmosphere even more desolate than it already is.
I am in the Sixteen Kingdoms period, a chaotic period for the Central Plains, where different states war with each over for control, so nobody pays attention to the Western Regions. That’s why, since a long time ago, Kucha no longer had to obey the decrees of the Central Plains. Bai Chun [Kuchan king] allied with the Hu people in Central Asia and planned to dominate the Western Regions, causing unrest in the surrounding areas. Fu Jian’s main goal was unification, and with the support from Shanshan King and Cheshi King, he ordered his general Lu Guang to conquer Kucha. Baichun was backed up by the Hu army, totalling about seven hundred thousand, but it was still not enough to defeat Lu Guang’s one-hundred-thousand army. Bai Chun escaped. His younger brother, Bai Zhen, ascended the throne. Kucha would then become a territory on the map of the Former Qin. And Rajiva’s fate will also take a drastic turn from then on…
I don’t know why, but my heart constricts in pain at the thought…
Chapter 16: Reuniting with someone familiar
The next morning, we set off. God knows how much I want to stay and research this ancient city that cannot be found in the 21st century. However, after thinking twice, I decided to follow the Persians. There are two reasons: One, the merchants chose to return to Kucha because of me, how could I delay their [original] journey any further. Secondly, I have to leave for my own safety because who knows if a second group of bandits might come along. Anyhow, let’s just head to Kucha first then come back here later. After all, this place is not very far from Kucha. Having made my decision, I woke up early and conducted a quick survey around the place, then marked the location on the map so that it’ll be easier to locate later on.
After we set off, reluctant to part with the ancient city, I keep looking back until it becomes a small dot in the sky and finally disappears from sight. On a positive note, along the way, I get to see many surprising landmarks. I discover the ruins of a military base from the Han Dynasty that still has remnants of war left behind. When noon break comes, I use the time to quickly measure and examine the site. I find many pottery fragments and even some Han copper coins. According to the map, this is probably the Wu Lei Gate during the Han Dynasty. Later on, during the Tang Dynasty, a beacon tower and garrison fort will be built next to this site. There will be a large battalion and army camps set up around as well. This construction will remain even in the 21st century.
I keep conducting research along the way just like that. Three days later, we arrive at Kucha.
Seeing the familiar walls, my heart beats fast. A strange feeling arises in me, as if I have ‘returned home’. I wonder if Rajiva is still Kucha. How old is he now? Does he still remember me?
We enter the citadel from the eastern gate. My eyes widen when the guard asks for documents. While I ponder whether I should tell him that I ‘know’ the State Preceptor, the Persian who knew Tocharian has already slipped a small pouch into the gate guard, who then waves his hand and allows us in.
This is the ancient city of Kucha that I once knew? From the main streets to back lanes, every nook and crane has been swept and cleaned. Everyone is dressed in their best clothes and drifting towards the western gate, their faces full of eagerness. I look at the Persians. They shrug, not knowing what is going on either. I have to grab a passerby for answers. The person sees that I’m wearing Han clothes and explains that today is the procession of Buddha festival. Later there will be handcarts carrying Buddha statues into the city from the western gate, processing on the streets for everyone to see.
Procession of Buddha festival? Faxian and Xuanzang wrote that this was the largest Buddhist festival held in India and in the Western Regions.
Seeing me in a daze, that passerby thinks I’m a Han person and thus do not know about this festival, so he begins to explain it to me eagerly. After the Buddha reached Nirvana, Buddhist disciples who wanted to see him again decided to start this festival on the Buddha’s birthday, so everyone can ‘see’ him and pray. Prayers on this day are rumoured to more effective than usual. But this kind of festival never gets to the Central Plains.
I am quite fortunate, to have arrived here at such a right time, how could I miss such an important Buddhist festival like this. I bid the Persians good bye. Since they carry so many goods with them, surely they cannot accompany me any further. The leader of the merchants wants to give me some money but I refuse vehemently. He then decides to give me a string of transparent agate beads and puts it in my hand. I reluctantly accept it.
After parting with the Persians, I merge with the crowd and move along to the western gate. A temporary dais is set up on top of the gate, covered by yellow and red canvasses and decorated with countless fresh flowers. The people sitting on the dais are dressed in fancy clothes. Even though I cannot see clearly, I guess that they must be the Kuchan royalty and nobles. People squeeze by me and eventually force me to take a dozen steps back. Finally I find a small spot enough for my two feet, but I must stand on my tiptoes to look.
A red carpet around hundred meters in length spreads from the gate. At this moment, the sea of people suddenly moves. My eyes follow the movement and look towards the gate. Still on my tiptoes, I see two identical carts with large wheels, around 4-5 meters tall, decorated grandly like a mini palace, covered by a yellow canvas. I have seen this Buddha procession at the large square before, where next to the Buddha were two smaller Bodhisattva statues. The Buddha statue is made of gold, wears a golden kasaya robe with complex patterns and numerous precious jewellery.
The carts slowly enter the western gate and pull to a stop on the red carpet. Bai Chun [the Kuchan king] steps down from the dais and removes his crown and shoes. Feet bare, he walks on the red carpet, both hands holding a long incense stick over his head, and faces the Buddha statue in a reverent manner. The king is displaying signs of age, his body heavier than before. Suddenly, I’m pulled into a trance. The person standing in an upright posture behind Bai Chun, the one wearing golden kasaya robe and exuding otherworldly aura, it’s Rajiva! It is indeed him!
Like a movie, everything around me blurs into shadows and all the noises vanish. In my eyes, only the image of Rajiva is clear.
He has grown up, seems to be over twenty years of age. [He looks] just like a Greek statue with that high nose, big bright eyes, long thick eyebrows, and those light gray eyes of his that seem to be able to see through everything in this world. His thin lips are pursed together, a vivid line that captures people’s attention. He looks very tall, must be over 1m80 [5’11’’]. His physique is firmer than when he was thirteen, and though still thin, it is proportionate. That narrow face, pointed chin, and elegant as a swan neck, every line of it is graceful. Not to mention his dignified aura and calm demeanor, which becomes even more prominent in the crowd, against the muddy background [metaphor], bringing shame to others around him.
Rajiva, Rajiva, how could you become this handsome, this bright? If I keep looking at you, once I return to the 21st century, how would I be able to look at any other man?
Bai Chun kneels down before the Buddha statue. A female servant brings forward a pot of bright flowers. The king puts the incense in the burner before the Buddha, then scatters the flowers on top of the statue. The crowd erupts in cheers. At this time, the queen and the noble ladies are also standing up and scattering flowers down from the gate. Drums begin to sound. The carts slowly move along on the carpet and enter the city. Baichun and a few other people lead the procession. Rajiva is also with them. Anxious, I yell out: “Rajiva, Rajiva, I’m here. I have returned!”
The crowd swarms to the gate. I get pushed around so much that I feel as if my feet are no longer touching the ground. Rajiva suddenly turns back in my direction. I want to call him, but people from behind suddenly push forward and make me fall to the ground. I rush to stand up, but he has gone away. Looking at that tall figure slowly disappearing into the city, I smile sadly. He probably cannot hear me. Amidst all this noise, how could he? Only now do I feel a burning pain from scrapes in my palm and on my elbow. These summer clothes that I wear are really no good!
I follow the procession in a daze. Every time the carts pass by the entrance of a temple or palace, they will stop. After that a number of men and women dressed in beautiful silk will rotate the wooden trays in their hands and dance. The sashes on their clothes fly along the wind. In the cheerful music, with their practiced moves, they would scatter the flowers from their trays as they dance. The crowd around them clap their hands in applause. Next is a beautiful girl dressed in soft tulle dress, two hands holding a golden bowl, dancing on bare feet, her moves light and happy. From time to time, she would lift her left foot and her hands would bring the bowl over her head. This dance was captured vividly on the paintings in Dunhuang and Kizil.
I ask an old man standing beside me. He tells me that these two dances are called tray dance and bowl dance. Tray dance is a dance where one scatters flowers on Buddha statues and on the people, representing admiration and praise towards the Buddha. Bowl dance is a dance that originated from the story of the Buddha, who in his six years of penance, in order to restrain himself, had used every austere method possible in eating and living. But even when he fainted from fatigue, he still could not attain enlightenment. Finally, when he meditated under the Bodhi tree, he was able to reach enlightenment and founded Buddhism. Later, he went to wash up in the river after many years, and after that received from a young woman a bowl of porridge. This bowl dance is thus based on the story of that young woman who gave the Buddha porridge.
The dances and music are very impressive, especially for someone from the 21st century like me, but they are unable to extinguish the heavy feelings like a wall in my heart. Unknowingly, my eyes keep passing through the dances, through the statues, through the noisy crowd, searching for that tall silhouette…
And every time I think I see that figure, I would rush up to look and then pull to a stop, realizing that it is merely an illusion. Only an illusion? I suddenly recall a poem:
“Startled I look back
Catching that person’s silhouette
Next to embers full of sparks.”
I take a deep breath and turn around once more. There is nobody. I rub my eyes and look around, still nobody.
The sky darkens. The streets are still filled with music and dancing. It’s time for me to look for lodgings. I escape the crowd and ask around several inns, who all tell me they are full. Should I go to the State Preceptor’s residence? But with me looking like this, I will only scare them. It’s not because I look like a villain. My looks are actually pretty okay, certain not to disappoint the audience [Ha!]. I once held the beauty queen title of the history research department. Of course, my class had more males than females. But that aside, if you suddenly see someone whose appearance after nearly or over ten years (I still haven’t confirmed how many years have passed since) has not changed a bit, how would you react?
I am still wondering what to do when luckily, my saviours arrive—they are the Persian merchants I met before. They bring me to their Zoroastrian temple, which has a few rooms at the back for travelling Persians to spend the night. This reminds me of merchant halls in Shaanxi, Wenzhou. That is how I spend my first night after returning to Kucha.
Ramblings: Yes, yes, I kind of lied. They didn’t quite “meet” yet. That happens in the next chapter, which will be coming very soon, I promise. Don’t throw rocks at me yet XD
On a more serious note, I recently found English version of the “Great Tang Records on the Western Regions” and the “Records of the Grand Historian” (Sima Qian) in a university library. So I’ll be editing some descriptive passages about places in these chapters as well as previous ones, if needed. Since poems of Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama, are referenced a few times in the novel (the novel’s title came from one of them after all), I’ve been trying to locate English translations of his poems in the same library. Gotten a few books on hold, hopefully they will contain the poems I need.I’m quite lucky to live in a place with access to high-quality public libraries.
I could translate from the Viet version of the poems, but I’d rather not for two reasons. One, I think using a translation that is direct Tibetan to English would preserve the essence of the poems better, rather than having me translate from a Viet translation of a Chinese translation (kind of like Rajiva’s efforts of translating Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Chinese). Two, the Viet translator tends to use Sino-Vietnamese (Viet pronunciation of Chinese words) to translate these poems, and though I can sort of understand it, it’s hard to for me to find equivalent English words. Think of it like reading Shakespeare’s plays.
Some of you may think, why do I even bother going that extra mile in my translation? It’s not like I even get paid for doing this. But that is actually the crux of it. If this translation project was an assignment (whether school or work), and it’s something I don’t like (or I don’t like the teacher), then I would only do the bare minimum to satisfy the requirement to pass. But see, translating FBFY is purely voluntary on my part, and it started because of a desire to introduce this novel to more people. But most importantly, it started because of love, love for the novel, and respect, respect towards the author’s efforts. She went great lengths to make this novel a true historical fiction, and that is the novel’s major charm (aside from the romance of course). That is also why I was hesitant to attempt a translation. But I found the courage to start it, and I realized I could not do a half-hearted attempt. Because how could I? How could I possibly do justice to the novel and to the author, if I was not prepared to give 120% of my effort?
Though to be honest, I didn’t foresee that I would go this far. If you have read my Translation Approach post, you’d know I was not aiming for high accuracy in translation. I was translating from a translation after all. At first it was just trying to use raw convert of the Chinese ebook to help aid the translation. Then it was some additional research to explain finer historical details, hence the paragraphs’ foonotes. But that gave me a new dilemma, because going through the novel once more this way, I was appreciative of it in a new light. I truly found the historical/Buddhist philosophical parts very captivating, especially as I research a bit more. Then on a whim, I wonder if the public libraries in my city, even university libraries, would have English translations of the Great Tang Records. Xiao Chun relied on this book heavily for many historical descriptions. Surprise, I found the English translation. So I tried searching for translation of other books, and also of the poems. It just kind of spiraled on and on without me knowing.
However, if you recall, I have mentioned before that this project is now a symbiotic exchange between the translator and the readers. I may love all the history and philosophy, but not all of you will. And to be honest, the novel often does get a bit too bogged down in the finer historical details. So I won’t actually translate everything. You can already see me cutting things here and there for reading’s sake. Plus, there is also the issue of time. This project is still just a side hobby and can’t be prioritized over other things in my life. If I want to get through 100 chapters in a reasonable timeframe, I have to learn to be selective.
Sorry for the long thoughts. But then again, this blog is called a Translator’s Ramblings after all XD