The Reading of Russian Literature in China: A Moral Example and Manual of Practice

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The first book comprises a set of case studies of the complex channels of translation and cultural exchange during the Republican period through which three modernist Russian writers—Boris Savinkov , Mikhail Artsybashev , and Leonid Andreev —reached Chinese readers. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN hard. The development of good scholarship on Sino-Russian literary relations has been obstructed, perhaps foremost, by the linguistic difficulty of the endeavor.

There are precious few scholars who are equally at home working in both Russian and Chinese sources, a task made more arduous when the scholar in question is neither Russian nor Chinese. Beyond issues of linguistic difficulty, however, is the problem of having a sufficient grasp of the national literatures of either Russia or China and the cultural, historical, and methodological problems that accompany the concept of the national.

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Linguistic expertise cannot gloss over a ham-fisted sense of literary terrain in either the Russian or Chinese context, especially considering how the latter are bound up with contentious ideological and political struggles. While I have some reservations about points of framing and interpretation particularly with regard to the second book , these two books chart the course for future studies and different perspectives.

My sense of what binds the two projects as a whole is a concern with the contest of two competing literary modernities. These modernists saw themselves as heirs to the Golden Age of Aleksandr Pushkin and at times thought themselves to be secondary incarnations of their early nineteenth-century forbears as well as a counterweight to the moral and aesthetic dominance of the later nineteenth-century realists.

Conflict scenarios with Russia and China

Their vision of cultural modernity correlated with a high degree of moral and aesthetic autonomy. The second current is one inspired by nineteenth-century realism, a view of literature as engaged in political agitation and evincing a high degree of social commitment. Much previous scholarship about Sino-Russian literary relations have pointed out the purported shared political dimension of their literary endeavors.

The Chinese reading of Russian literature post constituted, then, a pronounced relapse into superstition, as well as the snuffing out of more genuinely modern precedents. The bulk of the first book is comprised of three meticulous case studies involving some particular facet of literary translation: technique, ideology, and practice. Much of Russian literature, as is well known, was rendered into Chinese via intermediary translations in languages such as English, French, Japanese, and German.

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The introduction of an intermediary translation between source and target languages further complicated the task of making the Chinese rendering commensurate with the Russian text. If the intermediary translation was wrong, or misguided in some choice of rendering, this error risked being redoubled in the repeat translation.

As such, Gamsa argues that Lu Xun was only one of many international writers that similarly adopted a rosy-eyed view of the Soviet Union Gamsa pointedly notes the role of translation in keeping certain authors alive and read when they have disappeared in their original context Chapter 4 uses the work of Leonid Andreev as a channel through which to excavate the complex social networks among Chinese translators as they pursued translating work in a collective mode within which personal, and even familial, relationships were key in securing such work and getting it published Gamsa also illuminates a kind of liminal space in which translators often congregated between and within the literary and political societies and circles of the Chinese intelligentsia.

This chapter thus offers a wonderfully thick description of translation as an increasingly professionalized and institutionalized endeavor, one heavily dependent on reliable social connections. One cannot underestimate the invaluable contribution of this volume in establishing the significance of Russian modernism in the Republican Chinese attempt to understand and take stock of Russian literature.

The Silver Age was virtually ignored in Western Russian literary scholarship until researchers returned to it in recent decades. However, while modernists of the Russian Silver Age were being read and translated in s and s China, another Russian literary school, that of realism, was also making inroads into the Chinese literary scene. And although the Silver Age modernists had reacted against the dominance of nineteenth-century Russian realism, Gamsa shows us how the potent arguments of the realists would return to displace the modernists and become enshrined in CCP literary dogma.

The Reading of Russian Literature in China: A Moral Example and Manual of Practice by Mark Gamsa

The first thing that strikes the reader with the second volume, published two years after the first, is its relative brevity, being half the size of the previous study. It consists of an introduction, four relatively short chapters, and an afterword. The chapters touch upon such topics as the significance of classical Russian literature for radical Chinese intellectuals, Chinese writers who sought knowledge through pilgrimages to the Soviet Union, and the uses and abuses of literature under a socialist regime.

The reader will also notice a more acute, polemical tone. Moved by their ostensible belief in the moral power of literature, they nevertheless subscribed to a morally bankrupt ideology of socialism. The Communists certainly had no hesitation mixing a good dose of politics into their art. While the regime played a much too authoritarian role in the process, writers were not wholly without agency—they were expected to participate, reflect, and engage in a manner filled not only with passion but with critical spirit.

It further traces the formation over the last millennium of the imperial state of a critical communal self-consciousness. Tao Yuanming ? This study of the posthumous reputation of a central figure in Chinese literary history, the mechanisms at work in the reception of his works, and the canonization of Tao himself and of particular readings of his works sheds light on the transformation of literature and culture in premodern China.

Sociocultural Influences on Moral Judgments: East–West, Male–Female, and Young–Old

The book argues that as Neo-Confucians put their philosophy of learning into practice in local society, they justified a new social ideal in which society at the local level was led by the literati with state recognition and support. This volume focuses on tropes of visuality and gender to reflect on shifting understandings of the significance of Chineseness, modernity, and Chinese modernity. Through detailed readings of narrative works by eight authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the study identifies three distinct constellations of visual concerns corresponding to the late imperial, mid-twentieth century, and contemporary periods, respectively.

South Korea is home to some of the largest evangelical Protestant congregations in the world.

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This book investigates the meaning of—and the reasons behind—a particular aspect of contemporary South Korean evangelicalism: the intense involvement of middle-class women. The literary career of Uchida Hyakken — encompassed a wide variety of styles and genres. Chinese officials put considerable effort into managing the fiscal and legal affairs of their jurisdictions, but they also devoted significant time and energy to performing religious rituals on behalf of the state. This groundbreaking study explores this underappreciated aspect of Chinese political life by investigating rainmaking activities organized or conducted by local officials in the Qing dynasty.

The narrative is framed around the terms identity, community, and masculinity. As the author shows, the Uyghurs of Yining, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, express a set of individual and collective identities organized around place, gender, family relations, friendships, occupation, and religious practice. This book explores the Daoist encounter with modernity through the activities of Chen Yingning — , a famous lay Daoist master, and his group in early twentieth-century Shanghai. In contrast to the usual narrative of Daoist decay, with its focus on monastic decline, clerical corruption, and popular superstitions, this study tells a story of Daoist resilience, reinvigoration, and revival.

Eyferth charts the vicissitudes of a rural community of papermakers in Sichuan, tracing the changes in the distribution of knowledge that led to a massive transfer of technical control from villages to cities, from primary producers to managerial elites, and from women to men. This book describes the ritual world of a group of rural settlements in Shanxi province in pre North China.

The great festivals were their supreme collective achievements, carried out virtually without aid from local officials or educated elites. Newly discovered manuscripts allow Johnson to reconstruct the festivals in unprecedented detail.

Throughout Chinese history mountains have been integral components of the religious landscape. Early in Chinese history a set of five mountains were co-opted into the imperial cult and declared sacred peaks, yue , demarcating and protecting the boundaries of the Chinese imperium.

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Following the end of World War II in Asia, the Allied powers repatriated over six million Japanese nationals and deported more than a million colonial subjects from Japan. Watt analyzes how the human remnants of empire served as sites of negotiation in the process of jettisoning the colonial project and in the creation of new national identities. This study revolves around the career of Kobayashi Hideo — , one of the seminal figures in the history of modern Japanese literary criticism, whose interpretive vision was forged amidst the cultural and ideological crises that dominated intellectual discourse between the s and the s.

Bolton explores how this reconciliation of ideas and dialects is for Abe part of the process whereby texts and individuals form themselves—a search for identity that occurs at the level of the self and society at large. Urbanization was central to development in late imperial China. Yet scholars agree it triggered neither Weberian urban autonomy nor Habermasian civil society.

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Using Nanjing as a central case, the author shows that, prompted by this contradiction, the actions and creations of urban residents transformed the city on multiple levels. We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from public political, social, and economic realms.

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This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. The author shows that the predominant forms of protest were directed not against the landowning class but against agents of the state, and suggests that twentieth-century Chinese peasants were less different from seventeenth- or eighteenth-century French peasants than might be imagined and points to continuities between pre- and post rural protest.

Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness. How have conceptions and practices of sovereignty shaped how Chineseness is imagined?

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This ethnography addresses this question through the example of Macau, a southern Chinese city that was a Portuguese colony from the s until Micah S. Muscolino gives us a better understanding of the relationship between past ecological changes and present environmental challenges. Defining Engagement: Japan and Global Contexts, - Presenting fresh insights on the internal dynamics and global contexts that shaped foreign relations in early modern Japan, Robert I. Hellyer challenges the still largely accepted wisdom that the Tokugawa shogunate, guided by an ideology of seclusion, stifled intercourse with the outside world, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

For centuries, readers of Tao Qian have felt directly addressed by his poetic voice. This theme in the reception of Tao Qian, moreover, developed alongside an assumption that Tao was fundamentally misunderstood during his own age. How would Tao Qian have anticipated that his readers would understand him? He also places the story of modern childhood within a broader social context—the emergence of a middle class in early twentieth century Japan.


In , a Japanese diplomatic mission set out for Silla, on the Korean peninsula. The envoys met with adverse events and returned empty-handed. Featuring deft translations and incisive analysis, this study investigates the poetics and thematics of the Silla sequence, uncovering what is known about the actual historical event and the assumptions and concerns that guided its re-creation as a literary artifact and then helped shape its reception among contemporary readers.