4

The final book in Cixin Liu's Three Body series was titled in Chinese, 死神永生. The first 2 characters translated literally mean "death spirit", a personification of death. In English an equivalent might be the Angel of Death, or the God of Death. The next character means "forever", and the last one "life" or "live". An idiomatic translation would be something like "Death is eternal", or maybe "Death lives forever".

It would seem that the Chinese title has the opposite meaning to the actual translated title used, Death's End, which implies a point in time when death becomes meaningless or is reversed.

Is this the intended meaning, and if so why is it different to the original?

1 Answer 1

3

Copied from a Reddit post. I can’t speak to veracity; I don’t speak Chinese.

No need to guess, Liu had already given his answer right in the book.... In Chinese of course.

Chapter Broadcast Era, Year 7, Yun Tianming's Fairy Tales:

"Death is the only lighthouse that is always lit. No matter where you sail, ultimately, you must turn toward it. Everything fades in the world, but Death endures."

In Chinese it reads:

死亡是唯一一座永远亮着的灯塔, 不管你向哪里航行, 最终都得转向它指引的方向. 一切都会逝去, 只有死神永生.

Note the last 4 words in that Chinese sentence "死神永生" is the exact title of the book.

So yea, "Death's End" is a loose translation. By context the title should have been "Death Endures". The literal translation would be "God of Death forever lives", but since the word "永生" usually refers to mythological/religious immortal entities, the better translation would be "God of Death forever reigns"

That's probably too long for a book title, but Liu's idea was that "Everything has an end, but Death reigns forever"

1
  • 1
    That's interesting, and gives the source of the original title: "Everything fades in the world, but Death endures." So the question remains, what was Ken Liu's intended meaning when translating it as Death's End?
    – Batperson
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 9:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.