Lin Shu, Inc.: Translation and the Making of Modern Chinese Culture (Global Asias)

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9780190278281: Lin Shu, Inc.: Translation and the Making of Modern Chinese Culture (Global Asias)
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How could a writer who knew no foreign languages call himself a translator? How, too, did he become a major commercial success, churning out nearly two hundred translations over twenty years?

Lin Shu, Inc. crosses the fields of literary studies, intellectual history, and print culture, offering new ways to understand the stakes of translation in China and beyond. With rich detail and lively prose, Michael Gibbs Hill shows how Lin Shu (1852-1924) rose from obscurity to become China's leading translator of Western fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Well before Ezra Pound's and Bertolt Brecht's "inventions" of China revolutionized poetry and theater, Lin Shu and his assistants--who did, in fact, know languages like English and French--had already given many Chinese readers their first taste of fiction from the United States, France, and England. After passing through Lin Shu's "factory of writing," classic novels like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Oliver Twist spoke with new meaning for audiences concerned with the tumultuous social and political change facing China.

Leveraging his success as a translator of foreign books, Lin Shu quickly became an authority on traditional Chinese culture who upheld the classical language as a cornerstone of Chinese national identity. Eventually, younger intellectuals--who had grown up reading his translations--turned on Lin Shu and tarred him as a symbol of backward conservatism. Ultimately, Lin's defeat and downfall became just as significant as his rise to fame in defining the work of the intellectual in modern China.

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About the Author:


Michael Gibbs Hill is Assistant Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina.

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"Readers will be impressed by the books original viewpoints and its meticulous ex-amination of many original texts. Hills serious scholarship and multidimensional perspective set an example for similar translator-oriented research. Lin Shu Inc, will be the standard reference for scholars and students interested in the fascinating figure and this unique phenomenon for a very long time to come." Duoxiu Qian, Department of Translation and Interpretation, School for Foreign Languages, Beihang Universtiy.


"This detailed study is a long overdue biographical treatment of one of the most important translators in late nineteenth and early twentieth century China. Rather than adhering to the traditional mode of biography, Michael Hill provides a multifaceted perspective on Lin Shu's career as a barometer of the cultural and political change of early modern China. As such, Lin Shu, Inc. offers a great service to the field of modern Chinese literature, where treatments of Lin Shu and his cohort remain sporadic or outdated." --Jing Tsu, author of Failure, Nationalism, and Literature: The Making of Modern Chinese Identity, 1895-1937


"As Michael Hill convincingly demonstrates in this magisterial study, Lin Shu was much more than 'just' a translator: he was a cultural icon. By looking not only at the facts of Lin's life and the ideas expounded in his writings about literature, but also by focusing on close readings of the translations themselves, Hill does full justice to Lin's status as an author, educator, and cultural entrepreneur. Lin Shu, Inc. will be the standard reference for scholars and students interested in this fascinating figure for a very long time to come." --Michel Hockx, author of Questions of Style: Literary Societies and Literary Journals in Modern China, 1911-1937


"In the course of tracing the career of Lin Shu, Michael Hill deals with a number of issues that have of late become extremely important in modern Chinese literary and intellectual history. Any one of these topics would have been enough to sustain an important book, but the author's ability to combine them into a single discourse, carefully argued with a sufficiency of documentary support, renders the work a tour de force." --Theodore Huters, author of Bringing the World Home: Appropriating the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China


"Marked by superb close readings, Lin Shu, Inc. is an original piece of high-quality scholarship. By examining the work of Lin Shu and his collaborators, Michael Hill provides an invaluable cultural history of modern China that will interest anyone who cares about Chinese literature, postcolonial theory, or translation studies." --Jon Eugene von Kowallis, author of The Lyrical Lu Xun: A Study of His Classical-Style Verse


"A masterful reevaluation of Lin Shu's life...Hill's original and lucid analysis details how 1920s cultural revolutionaries could so quickly depose Lin and deprecate his language, still hallowed in 1910, as outdated and, ironically, a medium for sentimental, light reading--a cultural dead end later associated with a meretricious 'Shanghai type' sensibility... Essential." --CHOICE


"An inspiring and illuminating book full of thorough analyses that offer us new ways to understand the role Lin Shu played in China's modernization. I can imagine that Michael Hill must have encountered tremendous difficulties in searching for first-hand materials and reading the classical Chinese texts, but, without a doubt, this book is testament to his worthwhile efforts and evinces his profound scholarship and substantial contributions both to modern Chinese literature and to translation studies." --Translation Studies


"More than a conventional biography, this extensively researched, well-written book provides fresh perspectives on important debates about the role of the intellectual in modern China... [A] valuable contribution to the fields of literary and cultural history, print culture, Chinese literature and translation studies." --China Journal


"Strikes an elegant balance between different perspectives and approaches, pushing Asian studies in new, exciting directions." --Chinese Literature Today


"An indispensable companion not only to scholars and students interested in Lin Shu but also to those seeking to broaden their knowledge of modern Chinese literary and intellectual history in general." --World Literature Today


"Hill brilliantly shows...is the centrality of translation to the formation of cultural modernity in China and to the continuous process of reinventing the figure of the intellectual as the cultural vanguard." --Journal of Asian Studies


"Hill's book ultimately gives us one of the most thorough and richly textured accounts of how classic realist anglophone narratives are transformed rather than diluted when, to adopt Lin Shu's own phrasing at the opening of this review, the translator's 'ears hear' and the 'hand keeps pace'." --Translation and Literature


"Tracking the rise and fall of Lin's 'factory of writing' in the first two decades of the twentieth century, Michael Gibbs Hill paints a fascinating picture of intellectuals in the changing field of a modern Chinese print culture caught between the contradictory impulses of accomodation to the West and desire for loyalty toward native cultural tradition. Balancing the close reading of translated texts with a keen attention to the larger cultural contexts of late Qing China, Lin Shu, Inc. gives a lucid and penetrating account of the key issues concerning modern Chinese intellectual history: the repositioning of the intellectual, the need for a national language, and the meaning of tradition and modernity." --Hu Ying, Translation Review


"A timely, deeply researched, impressively argued, and in many ways pioneering account of one of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century China's most important intellectuals and the cultural milieu in which he was embroiled. Hill's study will appeal to scholars and students of Chinese cultural studies, comparative literature, and translation." --Comparative Literature


"...[A]n impressive consolidation of the major themes that preoccupied and defined the lives of China's intelligentsia in the early decades of the twentieth century: a biography of an era." --China Review


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