Chinese Fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Chinese Fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Essays by Patrick Hanan

Essays by Patrick Hanan
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/hana13324
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
    Book Description:

    It has often been said that the nineteenth century was a relatively stagnant period for Chinese fiction, but preeminent scholar Patrick Hanan shows that the opposite is true: the finest novels of the nineteenth century show a constant experimentation and evolution. In this collection of detailed and insightful essays, Hanan examines Chinese fiction before and during the period in which Chinese writers first came into contact with western fiction.

    Hanan explores the uses made of fiction by westerners in China; the adaptation and integration of western methods in Chinese fiction; and the continued vitality of the Chinese fictional tradition. Some western missionaries, for example, wrote religious novels in Chinese, almost always with the aid of native assistants who tended to change aspects of the work to "fit" Chinese taste. Later, such works as Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle," Jonathan Swift's "A Voyage to Lilliput," the novels of Jules Verne, and French detective stories were translated into Chinese. These interventions and their effects are explored here for virtually the first time.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50914-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The eleven research essays in this volume, although written as independent pieces, share a common subject, Chinese fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,¹ particularly its relationship to the Chinese and western traditions. (The western tradition gradually became accessible to Chinese writers during the period.) This approach embraces influence as well as intertextuality, imitation as well as originality, and also intercultural transmission—a cluster of notions for which I would like to borrow the old term “literary relations,” but with a new meaning. My purpose is to describe, so far as I can, some of the movements in Chinese...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The Narrator’s Voice Before the “Fiction Revolution”
    (pp. 9-32)

    Nineteenth-century fiction is very far from the stagnant genre it is sometimes said to be.¹ The finest nineteenth-century authors were both creative and experimental; their novels show significant changes well before the date (1902) at which Liang Qichao issued his call for a “New Fiction.”² In this chapter I propose to examine these authors’ artistic experimentation in terms of one key element, the narrator.

    The narrator in fiction is usually defined in terms of his degree of knowledge (omniscient, restricted, external, etc.) and his reliability. Viewed from that angle alone, the pre-modern Chinese novel is bound to appear somewhat static....

  5. CHAPTER 2 Illusion of Romance and the Courtesan Novel
    (pp. 33-57)

    In his account of the Chinese courtesan or brothel novels, for which he employed the term xiaxie xiaoshuo,¹ Lu Xun distinguished three types, based on the level at which the novels’ main characters, particularly their courtesans, were depicted:² idealized representation, in Pin hua baojian, Hua yue hen, and Qinglou meng; realistic representation, in Haishang hua liezhuan; and demeaning or derogatory representation, in Zhang Chunfan’s Jiuwei gui(Nine-tailed tortoise) and other works. He described the three types as succeeding one another in time, as different stages in the fiction writers’ perception of the courtesan.

    Although the courtesan novels share other characteristics besides...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Missionary Novels of Nineteenth-Century China
    (pp. 58-84)

    By “missionary novels” I mean narratives (in the form of novels) that were written in Chinese by Christian missionaries and their assistants. A score of such works, either composed or translated by missionaries, exist; they outnumber the few works of secular fiction that were translated into Chinese in the course of the nineteenth century. Scholarly attention has deservedly been paid to the latter in terms of their influence on the modern Chinese novel, but the missionary novels have been entirely overlooked. In this essay I shall introduce the missionary novel, trace the course of its development, and speculate about what...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The First Novel Translated Into Chinese
    (pp. 85-109)

    Strictly speaking, Xinxi xiantan (Idle talk morning to evening), which appeared in 26 installments in the Shanghai monthly journal Yinghuan suoji (Trifling notes on the world at large) from 1873 to 1875, was not the first novel in Chinese translation—religious novels translated by foreign missionaries and their Chinese assistants date from as early as 1852—but it does seem to have been the earliest translation of a novel of general interest.¹ The name of the original “English novel” is not given, and the translator is identified only by a pseudonym, as Lishao Jushi (Layman of the ladle). My aim...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Translated Fiction in the Early Shen Bao
    (pp. 110-123)

    In the period from May 21 to June 15, 1872, the Shanghai newspaper Shen bao, which had been in existence only a few months at the time, published Chinese versions of three English-language works of fiction. These were not set out in the newspaper under the heading of fiction, let alone of translated fiction; they were simply included among other items of interest.

    A Chinese version of a “A Voyage to Lilliput” from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels appeared in four installments under the title of “Tan ying xiaolu” (Notes on countries overseas) from the fifteenth to the eighteenth of the...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The New Novel Before the New Novel—John Fryer’s Fiction Contest
    (pp. 124-143)

    The story of the modern Chinese novel, as it is often told by literary historians, begins with Liang Qichao, more specifically with his founding of the journal Xin xiaoshuo (New fiction) in Yokohama in 1902. In his advertisement for the journal Liang set forth the categories of subject matter he recommended, ranging from the historical and the political to the detective, romantic, and supernatural. Liang’s own Xin Zhongguo weilai ji (The future of new China), published in installments in New Fiction in 1902 and 1903, is generally considered the earliest of the “new novels,” and most of the famous novels...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Second Stage of Vernacular Translation
    (pp. 144-161)

    For many years after the publication of the vernacular Chinese translation of Bulwer Lytton’s Night and Morning¹ no other renderings of fiction appeared in Chinese, except for the handful of religious stories translated by missionaries and their assistants. Not until the 1890s did other secular translations begin to appear, and then they were all in literary Chinese, not the vernacular. The earliest was a summary account—it can scarcely be called a translation—of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, done by Timothy Richard with the aid of a Chinese collaborator. It was followed by several Sherlock Holmes stories translated by Zhang...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Wu Jianren and the Narrator
    (pp. 162-182)

    Wu Jianren is probably the best example of the change to the modern in Chinese literature, if we understand “modern” as requiring two conditions: a concern on the part of the writer with the national and, more particularly, the cultural crisis that faced China; and an attempt to express that concern by nontraditional literary methods. He is the best example, at least among fiction writers, for two reasons. Of the famous late-Qing novelists, he is the only one whose fiction spans the last decade of the nineteenth century—his first novel was published in 1898¹—and the first decade of...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Specific Literary Relations of Sea of Regret
    (pp. 183-198)

    Just a few months after the publication of his novel Hen hai (Sea of regret) in October 1906, Wu Jianren tried to describe for the readers of his journal Yueyue xiaoshuo the process of the book’s composition:

    It took me just ten days to finish my Sea of Regret, and then, without checking it, I sent it straight off to the publisher, the Guangzhi shuju. After it was published, I did chance to take it up and read it, but although the sad parts reduced me to tears, I still couldn’t fathom why I had written it.¹

    This is all...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Autobiographical Romance of Chen Diexian
    (pp. 199-216)

    During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Chen Diexian (1879–1940), better known by his pen name Tian Xu Wo Sheng (Heaven Bore Me in Vain),¹ was one of the most celebrated Chinese writers. However, like all but a few of those who were active just before the May Fourth movement, he has long since fallen out of favor, so far out that I shall need to introduce him and his works before broaching my subject, which is his successive attempts to write his own romantic autobiography.

    Chen Diexian has several claims upon our attention. He was a...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Technique of Lu Xun’s Fiction
    (pp. 217-250)

    For a man driven by ideas of the social purpose and efficacy of literature, Lu Xun (1881–1936) was uncommonly concerned with technique. The concern appears hardly at all in his essays; he never cared for analyzing his own work, and he passed off all questions on the subject with self-deprecating humor. It is his fiction that forces the conclusion upon us. More than with other writers, each story is a venture in technique, a fresh try at the perfect matching of subject and form. The high demands Lu Xun placed on technique may account for some of the difficulty...

  15. Works Cited
    (pp. 251-268)
  16. Glossary
    (pp. 269-276)
  17. Index
    (pp. 277-286)