23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Wolfgang Kubin
© Hartwig Klappert

Wolfgang Kubin

The sinologist, poet and essayist Wolfgang Kubin was born in Celle/Germany in 1945. He passed his Abitur grammar school leaving certificate at the Dionysianum in Rheine in 1966, and studied Protestant theology, and later Japanology, German language and literature, philosophy, and sinology in Münster, Vienna and Bochum. He wrote his doctor’s thesis about the Chinese poet Tu Mu. In 1974 and 1975 he studied standard Chinese at the language institute in Beijing, followed by his first lecturing post at the East Asia Faculty of Berlin Free University. From 1977 to 1985 he was an assistant for modern Chinese language and literature at Berlin Free University. In 1981, he wrote his postdoctoral thesis about the development of the vision of nature in classical Chinese literature. From 1985 on Kubin taught Chinese at the Seminar for Oriental Languages of the University of Bonn, where he has been a professor for sinology since 1995.
Kubin has become a well-known translator of modern Chinese poetry and prose and translated short stories and essays by Lu Xun for a six-volume edition. The »Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur im 20. Jahrhundert« (tr. A History of the Chinese Literature in the 20th Century) will eventually include ten volumes. Kubin is an editor and author of the series, which is considered to be the scientific standard work in sinology. His own poems were published for the first time in 2000, with the title »Das neue Lied von der alten Verzweiflung« (tr. The New Song About Old Despair). »Narrentürme« (tr. Fools’ Towers) was published in 2002, and the third anthology »Schattentänzer« (tr. Shadow Dancer) in 2004. These are philosophical and political poems about the places, where Kubin used to live and lives still today. Kubin’s poetry is a poetry of the journey, since the writer travelled through Madrid and Salamanca, along the US East coast, and in China, which was the most extensive part of the trip. In 2006 he published a collection of short stories »Halbzeit einer Liebe« (tr. Half-time of a Love). Different cities and places become the backdrop of the story, here too: a small town in Germany in the 1950s, Vienna in 1968, Bejing at the time of the Cultural Revolution, Hongkong and Macao at the turn of the century. Kubin’s essays »Unterm Schnurbaum. Deutsch-chinesische Wahlverwandtschaften« (tr. Under the Twine Tree. German-Chinese Elective Affinities) (2009) is once again dedicated to China. These texts are enigmatic tales, with impressive images that describe the transformation in the country in the 1990s. The geographical focus of Kubin’s trips are Bejing, Hongkong, and Macao. And his essays show why people love to travel: »Would a Chinese go to Bonn, only to see a twine tree? Do we seek the German oak tree in Bejing? We want to discover the alien in alien places. Otherwise we might as well stay at home.«
Since 1989, Kubin has been the editor of the scientific journals »ORIENTIERUNGEN: Zeitschrift zur Kultur Asiens« and »minima sinica: Zeitschrift zum chinesischen Geist«. For his merits for the benefit of Chinese literature, Wolfgang Kubin was awarded the National Prize of the People’s Republic of China in 2007. The »Pamir International Poetry Price« for his translations of Chinese poetry was bestowed upon him in Bejing in the same year. Wolfgang Kubin lives in Bonn and Vienna.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin


Lu Xun, Werkausgabe in 6 Bänden
[Hrsg. Wolfgang Kubin]
Zürich, 1994
[Ü: Raoul David Findeisen]

Geschichte der chinesischen Literatur
bisher 7 Bd.
[Hrsg. Wolfgang Kubin]
München, 2002 ff.

Schattentänzer. Gedichte
Bonn, 2004

Halbzeit einer Liebe. Eine Erzählung
Edition Milo, Bd. 4
Wien, 2006

Unterm Schnurbaum. Essays
Bonn, 2009