Translating Mulan

Some time ago, I decided to take my Chinese to the next level. I started visiting the compressed stacks at NTU’s library and worked my way through some Qing dynasty novels.

Then, I came across the first novel about Mulan that ever made it to the woodblock printing press. I really wanted to read the story… but was disappointed to discover that it was meant to be read by a storyteller. So, it’s more like a 750-page outline. As I understand it, the storyteller was to read the notes one chapter at a time, and then tell the story from memory, embellishing it as he pleased.

Over the past year, I took notes on the entire novel and am finally ready to begin transforming the notes into an actual story in English. (I’m currently on chapter 4)

Would anyone be be interested in reading it? I’m not charging. I’d welcome comments anyone has, especially comments from people whose knowledge of the Chinese language, history, and culture is better than mine :).

P.S. I have pics of every page of the original Chinese novel if anyone’s interested but NTU’s library is too far of a hike. It’s public domain.


I would be interested in a video. your explaination sounds very intriguing.

But hurry up so your viewer hits can piggyback on the live Disney version :joy:


Sorry, I don’t have the budget for a movie :(.
EDIT: Does anyone here know anything about making movies?

But my sister works for Audible and is currently on the top ten best selling narrators. Being that the author intended the story to be told by storytellers, I believe that an audiobook is what the original author would have wanted.

But before I sell the rights, I’m willing to send anyone a free copy of the chapters (as I complete them) in exchange for your honest feedback.

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@Rockefeller ?

What up?

I didn’t have an actual movie in mind. But rather a vlog sort of video. Where you’re discussing Mulan and educating people about the original text.

Most folks have the Disney version of the story as their frame of reference to it.

Ok, glad to know there’s interest in that sort of thing :).

There have been many renditions of the legend over the past 1,500 years (after all, a legend by its very nature grows and changes over time—a story which stays static is not a legend) describing how the legend grew from 500AD until the present might make an interesting presentation

Just curious… do you think that it’s important to have video vs. just audio? I’ve never done something like that, but I’m game :slight_smile:

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It’s storytelling.
One should let their mind create the characters and scenarios.
I think audiobook is a more suitable form for your project.


What RickRoll suggested. I reread your OP and thought maybe it could be a good podcast. Maybe you can get someone to interview your for their show or something.

This might be complicating things but I think you have something of value. I had no idea about Mulan being told in this manner.

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This is super cool. You should be commended for doing this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t money (ie funding) that you could get for this - but it would likely have to be under the banner of some University or something of the sort.


Thanks to everyone for the encouragement :slight_smile:

I tried cooperating with a university a long time ago. No luck. The book “Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend” provides translations of the four shortest versions (~10 pages or less each) of the legend (They say “five versions” but #5 is the 1939 movie). The appendices include plot summaries of dozens of much longer retellings (i.e., full-length plays, novels, etc.) and they say that they’ve translated these into English but have never released them to the general public.

Sadly, they aren’t willing to share their translations. Not exactly sure why they’re keeping them under wraps. Or, maybe they just want them to stay in the ivory tower and think that releasing these translations into the hands of the common folk would be a disgrace. Not exactly sure what their reasoning was… but for whatever reason they said “no.”

So, I had to go through all the hard work myself. Digging through stacks and stacks of archives until I found photocopies of old texts at NTU’s library, taking pics, and going home every night to work through the text to translate it. Now, I have English translations of two original novels… and have read over a dozen other manuscripts. (My Chinese has improved a ton as a result of this project!)

Now that I have finished with all the research… the only question is what to do with it :thinking: . Now, if I was a millionaire, I’d have a lot of options. But as @Noel said, funding will be an issue.

One one thing I want to do is to educate the general public about what the real legend of Mulan is about. (And no, she’s not a Disney princess!)


Don’t let funding be an obstacle. There’s money out there you have to find it or create it.

Keep at it. Your tenancy and perseverance to do what you did will eventually attract the $$$ you need to make this project come alive.

Perhaps you need to kick ideas around more until you have a clear focus as to how you want to get this out there. Once that’s done you’ll have the direction you need.

Good luck.


What’s your goal, @Caspian?
Do you want this to reach the largest audience as possible? Make a podcast
Do you want to make money out of it? Try selling your rights to a publisher.

Or you can try the middle path, and make the podcast as a way to attract interest to a bigger project.
The good thing about a podcast is that you don’t need much investment. It’s more about creating an unique and interesting style.

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Something about your posts is making me have ideas. LoL.

S/he could self publish on Amazon. @Poagao, do you have any advice? (Well if you see this anytime soon :joy:)

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I wish I knew.

I’m not in this for the money… yet, I feel like I’m sitting on something too valuable to release a project which is underfunded and not professionally completed.

I’m completely OK with releasing this for free and letting it spread to the far corners of the Internet. If it went viral and I made nothing, I’d be ecstatic.

However, producing something of high quality takes funding. I’ve invested too much time into this to just release videos of myself reading a script shot with a cell phone. Also, my writing skills are somewhere between mediocre and above average.

In today’s world, people are so used to consuming high quality entertainment… I have no doubt that Disney’s new Mulan movie will make millions. Even though they probably didn’t allocate 1% of their budget to research, most people don’t care and will just be happy with a movie centering around a hot actress.

My target audience is people who actually care about learning something. But I’d like to entertain in the process. (Even though entertainment is important, I want to make sure the audience understand that this is priority #2)

The more I read your posts, the more I think a podcast is the best media to accommodate your project.
Perhaps @Mucha_Man would be interested to partnership with you on this? He was doing a great job with Travel Tape podcast and has some fine storytelling skills.
I haven’t being active on the board recently, tho…
I hope he still check up here from time to time.


I’m super excited! There’s something exciting happening with this project in private PM’s :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m not going to say too much. But it’s super awesome… it’s just a little too awesome and a little part of me is afraid that it’s going to fall through… but hang tight! Something cool is going to happen :sunglasses:

But thank you all so much for your ideas… I’ll definitely take them into consideration as this moves forward. Please let me know if you have any more ideas!


Naw man(or woman) you need to start doling out the paychecks for the ideas since the ball is rolling. :joy::joy::joy:

Seriously congrats.

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No clue, I haven’t self-published anything. I think there is a way to do it on amazon, but I’m not sure about the details.

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