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Translation of 'Finnegans Wake' sells in China

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January 29, 2013 11:33 PM EST | AP

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BEIJING — The Chinese version is no easier to read than the original, the loyal-minded translator assures, but James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" has still sold out its initial run in China.

Wang Weisong, chief editor of the Shanghai company that published the first Chinese translation of the Joyce classic, says he didn't expect success, but the first 8,000 copies have sold out since Dec. 25.

Dai Congrong, who spent eight years translating it, said at a forum in Shanghai that she didn't fully grasp the novel but that it wasn't intended for easy comprehension. She says she kept the Chinese version that way.

The book was promoted by a rare billboard campaign in Shanghai and other cities. Critics say it panders to a superficial demand among some Chinese for high-brow imports.