, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, pp 47-64
Date: 19 Jun 2014

World literature, global culture and contemporary Chinese literature in translation


The starting point of this article is the concern shown by Chinese writers, academics, and cultural officials in regard to the status and reception of contemporary Chinese literature. One factor often overlooked is the necessity, at this moment in history, for Chinese literature to be translated for the global market. The relative success of contemporary Chinese literature in French, German, and Japanese markets is evidence that the Anglophone market is resistant to foreign literature in general; the relative success of traditional Chinese literature, from Confucius to the 19th century, even in the Anglophone markets is evidence that English-language readers are not prejudiced against Chinese-language literature in general. From these premises, the article looks at ways in which the translation of Chinese literature and its publication for readers outside China can be improved.
This paper was originally presented at the workshop on The uses of culture in China, University of Western Australia, September 2012. I am most grateful to the workshop organiser, Professor Gary Sigley, for his many valuable editorial comments, as well the other participants for their contributions during the workshop discussions. An abbreviated version in Chinese is to be published in the journal Shijie Hanxue [World Sinology] in 2014.