Meng Lang Passes Away/French Literature Fetches High Price – Poetry News Roundup December 18th

Today in our poetry news roundup, we bring you the sad news of the death of the poet Meng Lang. We also have a short article about a piece of French literature that has fetched the greatest price at auction.

Poet Who Promoted Dissident Chinese Writers Dies Aged 57

The poet Meng Lang, who was responsible for the promotion of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, together with other dissident writers from China, has passed away in the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong at the age of just 57.

The poet’s death was confirmed by the vice president of PEN Hong Kong. It is believed that the cause of Meng Lang’s death was lung cancer, which is had previously been reported in the media that he was being treated for.

Meng Lang was born in 1961 in Shanghai. He was interested in poetry from an early age, and during the 1980s he participated in a number of the unofficial poetry movements that existed in China. Later on, he assisted in the editing of “A Compendium of Modern Chinese Poetry”. He was also the Brown University writer in residence between 1995 and 1998. He spent time living in both the United States and also Taiwan.

Mr Meng was an accomplished poet with much of his work being translated into a number of different languages. He was also one of the co-founders of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. Formed in 2011, this is a non-profit organisation that was set up to promote freedom of both expression and publication.

A huge part of Mr Meng’s work involved the championing of the more unorthodox poetry of China, which at times was both experimental and free-spirited. He was also a long time supported of his fellow poet Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who took part in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Mr Liu was placed in prison shortly after, and it was during this time that he received his Nobel Prize. He passed away last year, still in prison, due to cancer.

One of the last projects that Mr Meng worked on was an anthology of poems dedicated to the memory of Liu Xiaobo. This anthology was published earlier this year in both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Despite the fact that Meng Lang spent a considerable time living abroad, he left China in 1995. He was very well respected and loved in the literary world. He also contributed significantly to the growth of a new type of Chinese poetry.

Since his death, there have been many tributes which have poured in from all over the world, from translators, writers and those who advocate free speech.

Book Gifted by Proust Breaks Record for French Literature Sold at Auction

A copy of “Swanns Way” by Marcel Proust has sold at auction for 1.51 million euros. The copy of the 1st volume of
which is extremely rare  was thought to possibly sell for between 600k to 800k euros. The book was dedicated to “My little darling”, and is believed to have been gifted by Proust to Lucien Daudet.

The previous record for a piece of French literature sold at auction was held by a copy of “Les Fleurs du mal” by Charles Baudelaire which fetched 775k euros nine years ago.

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