Yi Lijun (1934–2022)
On 7 February 2022, Professor Yi Lijun passed away in Beijing. She was the most outstanding Chinese Polish scholar, and was known as the ambassador of Polish literature in China. She was closely linked with the University of Gdańsk. In 2007, she received an honorary doctorate from the University, and she was a member of the Academic Council of the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Gdańskand of the scholarly bi-annual journal Gdańsk East Asian Studies.
Yi Lijun was born on 4 December 1934 in the Huang Gang administrative district of Hu Bei Province. She studied in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Wuhan University, and studied Polish at the University of Warsaw from 1954 to 1960. After returning to China, Yi Lijun worked for two years as a journalist for Radio Beijing. In 1962, she started work at Beijing Foreign Studies University, where she remained to the end of her academic career.
For many years, she was director of the Department of Polish Language in the Faculty of European Languages of BFSU. She taught several generations of Chinese Polish scholars, who today work at universities, in foreign trade, in culture, in the tourist industry, and in diplomacy. She contributed hugely to the cause of Polish culture in China as a translator, scholar, and promoter of Polish literature. She translated into Chinese the writings of over forty Polish authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her list of publications includes more than seventy works in prose and verse, including: Adam Mickiewicz’s Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve), parts III and IV; Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Krzyżacy (The Knights of the Cross), Ogniem i mieczem (With Fire and Sword ), and Potop (The Deluge); Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke; Olga Tokarczuk’s Prawiek i inne czasy (Primeval and Other Times) and Dom dzienny, dom nocny (House of Day, House of Night); and Wybór klechd i baśni polskich. She also brought to Chinese readers poems by Polish winners of the Nobel Prize, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska, and also those of many other poets. Her publications include scores of articles on Polish writers. She edited more than 300 entries on Polish writers and Polish literature for Chinese encyclopedias. Professor Yi Lijun received many Polish state awards in recognition of her achievements, including the Medal for Services to Polish Culture – Gloria Artis, the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, and the Medal of the Commission for National Education.