Papers on Modern Literature VII

Late Qing to Republic
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room D

  • Chaired by Shaw-Yu Pan
  • Shuowin Chen, “The Extraordinary Adventure of Arsène Lupin in China”
  • Yangyang Lan, “Poetic Records of the Local: Bamboo-Branch Songs of Berlin (1887–1925)”
  • Shaw-Yu Pan, “Appropriating the West: On Mandarin Duck and Butterfly Writers’ ‘Western’ Stories”
  • Yanping Gao, “Can Nationalism Save China? Constructing Nationalism in the Discourse about ‘Yellow Peril’ and ‘Chinese National Character’ in Lao She’s Novel Mr. Ma & Son: A Sojourn in London

Shuowin Chen, “The Extraordinary Adventure of Arsène Lupin in China”

During the late Qing and early Republican period, translated western detective novels are popular in China, especially Conan Doyle’s famous stories of Sherlock Holmes. In 1886, Zhang Kunde firstly translated the stories of Sherlock Holmes into Chinese. In the next decade, Chinese translation of this famous British detective stories increased continuously, and to a certain extent, inspired Chinese writers to create their own detective novels. The translation and transculturation of Sherlock Holmes’s stories had already attracted a lot of scholars’ interests. However, compared to the attention that Sherlock Holmes obtained, little research has been done on the famous “gentleman-cambrioleur” (gentleman thief), Arsène Lupin’s adventures. This paper focuses on the examination of Chinese translation of Arsène Lupin’s stories during the 20th century in China. Through comparing the translation and the original French works, English versions, this paper attempts to explore the characteristics of the Chinese translation and interpretation of these novels of Maurice Leblanc. This paper points out, at the beginning of 1910s, as a “gentleman-cambrioleur,” the image of Arsène Lupin in the Chinese translation is quite semi-villainous. However, when the times came to the late 1920s, Chinese translators, such as Zhuo Shuojuan, started to name this mercurial character as ancient Chinese warrior fold hero Xia. With that, Sun Liaohong, a famous popular novelist in Shanghai, created his own novels about the legendary life of a Chinese hero Lu Ping, he called it “Arsène Lupin in the East,” and achieved a huge success. What happened behind the transformation of the image of Arsène Lupin, from thief to folk hero? Is there any difference between Lupin and Lu Ping? By comparing and close reading, this paper not only discusses how Chinese translators and readers presented their cultural imagination by translating but also demonstrates how their translation represent the dialogue between the Chinese and Western literary tradition and cultural values, that means, to illustrate the cultural connotation that this extraordinary adventure of Arsène Lupin in modern china reflected.

Yangyang Lan, “Poetic Records of the Local: Bamboo-branch Songs of Berlin (1887–1925)”

Among the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from China traveled or sojourned in Germany for different reasons, and with different genres, they recorded their oversea experiences. Bamboo-branch songs (zhuzhici 竹枝詞), a genre of classical Chinese poetry, because of its long tradition of describing local lives and folkways, was adopted also to write foreign scenes. I collected totally 97 bamboo-branch songs of by 7 authors from 1887, the year the earliest author of them, Pan Feisheng 潘飛聲 (1858–1934), arrived Berlin, to 1925, when the latest group of zhuzhici were published. They display the local life of Berlin, record daily tours of the authors and reveal the thinking of the authors about historical events in Germany. First, I introduce the identities of the authors and the publication of the poems. Secondly, I examine one group of 24 poems by Pan Feisheng, which display the local lives of Berlin by focusing on women’s daily lives. Thirdly, zhuzhici also focuses on the daily trip of the sojourners in Berlin. Zhang Ruobai 張若柏 (?–1941)’s twenty poems, which were written soon after he came back to China, restore a route of a trip in Berlin with a timeline of one day. Finally, I analyze observations about events in Germany in zhuzhici, taking Yang Qi 楊圻 (1875–1941)’s one group of poems titled The Resentment of Berlin (Bolin yuan 柏林怨) as an example.

Shaw-Yu Pan, “Appropriating the West: On Mandarin Duck and Butterfly Writers’ ‘Western’ Stories”

During the early Republican period, the so-called “Mandarin Duck and Butterfly writers” (yuanyang hudie pai) published over a hundred pieces of peculiar stories that embodied their “Occidentalism.” The major contributors of these stories include Zhou Shoujuan (1895–1968) and Yao Yuanchu (1892–1954), two Butterfly writers who were familiar with the late Qing translations of Western literature. They forged the names of their “Western authors” as if those were translations of Western literature, or simply had their European characters act against European backdrop. In this paper, I will focus on these “seemingly Western stories” and examine their literary values and social significance. I will investigate Zhou’s and Yao’s reference of late Qing translations and see how these texts helped with constructing specific imaginations of the West. Secondly, I will analyse how Zhou and Yao imitated the literary techniques, thoughts and subjects of Western literature. Also, I will study how they adapted the features of classical Chinese literature and combined them with Western resource. If the importance of translating foreign literature is to expand and enrich the horizon and source of native literature, to what end, then, is the composition of a pseudotranslation? How do we explain the existence of these appeared-to-be-Western stories from the perspective of modern Chinese literary history? Furthermore, what sort of assumption or imagination of the Western culture did they reveal and what was their impact on modern Chinese literature? This paper intends to provide thoughts to these questions.

Yanping Gao, “Can Nationalism Save China? Constructing Nationalism in the Discourse about ‘Yellow Peril’ and ‘Chinese National Character’ in Lao She’s Novel Mr. Ma & Son: A Sojourn in London

Writing in Chinese in 1929 in London, Chinese writer Lao She (1899–1966) appealed through a literary character Ma Wei in Mr. Ma & Son, that “only nationalism can save China!” The idea of nationalism, on the one hand, related to China’s political and cultural turmoil at the time, and on the other hand, was stimulated by the racial discrimination encountered by Mr Ma and his son Ma Wei. The idea of nationalism is also established through Lao’s criticism to Chinese national character. Lao’s writing of national character is influenced by the new writing tradition of criticising national character established since Lu Xun’s A Story of Ah Q (1921). This article seeks to point out that Lao’s novel is a response to both the discourse about “Yellow Peril” in Western Countries and the criticism of the national character in modern Chinese literary writings. In this context, the idea of nationalism was seen as a way out for China. However, the similarity between progressive Chinese intellectuals and the old generation on the issues towards women in the novel seems to imply that the criticism of national character is incomplete and that nationalism is still a problematical male-dominated discourse. Ma’s “escape” from London, seems to put a question mark on whether nationalism can save China. Analogically, Lao’s novel can be regarded as a metaphor of modern Chinese intellectuals seeking a way out of China through nationalism.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room D
Late Qing to Republic