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PASSINGS: Yang Xianyi, Ali Kordan, Alan Kim Kurumada

Yang Xianyi, Chinese poet and translator, dies at 94; Ali Kordan, Iranian interior minister dismissed in credentials flap, dies at 51; Alan Kim Kurumada, longtime assistant director, dies at 64

November 24, 2009
  • Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan speaks in his own defense before the parliamentary vote to dismiss him for deception after Oxford university denied that it had awarded him an honorary degree as he had claimed.
Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan speaks in his own defense before the… (Vahid Salemi / Associated…)

Yang Xianyi

Chinese poet and classics translator

Yang Xianyi, 94, a poet who translated numerous Chinese classics into English, died Monday in Beijing, state news reported.

The report on Shanghai's Xinmin Evening News website did not give a cause of death, but Yang had reportedly been suffering from cancer.

In September, he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Translators Assn. of China.

Yang was born in the eastern coastal city of Tianjin in January 1915 and studied English at Oxford in 1936, where he met and later married Gladys Taylor.

The two returned to China in 1940 and together formed a prolific translating team, mostly working at the Foreign Languages Press, a state-run publishing company based in Beijing.

Besides translating Chinese classics including "The Dream of the Red Mansions," "The Scholars" and the "Selected Works" of 20th century writer Lu Xun into English, the Yangs also translated Western works into Chinese.

Such translations included Homer's "Odyssey," Aristophanes' "The Birds" and "Peace" and Virgil's Eclogues." Yang was also a poet and fierce government critic.

Besides finding himself in political trouble during the "anti-rightist" movement of the late 1950s, Yang suffered during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and was a strident critic of the government's bloody crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.

Gladys Yang died in 1999.

Ali Kordan

Iranian official was dismissed

Ali Kordan, 51, a former Iranian Interior Minister who was dismissed after being accused of faking a law degree from the University of Oxford, died of heart failure Sunday after weeks of treatment for pulmonary and pancreatic problems, according to reports in Iranian newspapers and news agencies.

Iran's parliament dismissed Kordan in 2008 after questions arose over his credentials from Oxford. The university denied that it had awarded him an honorary doctorate of law.

Kordan claimed that his impeachment was a conspiracy by Iran's foreign enemies, including the U.S. and Israel.

His alleged Oxford diploma, dated June 2000, was imprinted with a purported Oxford seal but was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

Alan Kim Kurumada, a longtime unit production manager and assistant director who received the Frank Capra Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America earlier this year, died Thursday at his home in Northridge after battling esophageal cancer. He was 64.

-- times staff and wire reports news.obits@latimes.com

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