Carles Prado-Fonts is Associate Professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. He works on Chinese literature, Sinophone cultures, translation and comparative studies. He is the author of Regresar a China (Trotta, forthcoming) and co-editor of Narrativas chinas: Ficciones y otras formas de no-literatura (Editorial UOC, 2014). He has translated Lu Xun and Mo Yan into Catalan. He is currently at work on a book on the representations of China in the West in the early twentieth century.
In 1931, Editorial Apolo released El enigma del despertar de China, an essay on contemporary China dealing with varied topics such as rituals, traditions, feminism, Christianity, pedagogy, Malthusianism, communism, and literature. The cover announced that it was authored by T. S. H. Thompson and translated by Fabián Casares. But both names were fake. The book, it turns out, had been written by Mario Verdaguer (1885–1963), a key figure in Hispanic modernism, based in Catalonia. Relying on foreign sources, Verdaguer had impersonated the voice of an English sinologist offering a panoramic view on contemporary China. He had, furthermore, even invented the agency of a translator who had rendered that into Spanish. Why would an avant-garde novelist, occasional poet and renowned translator of Goethe, Zweig and Mann such as Verdaguer try to pass himself off as an English essayist to write about China? Why would a translation have more value than an original work?