, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 529–549 | Cite as

Cosmopolitanism and the translation of children’s literature: Zheng Zhenduo as a case study

  • Chu Shen


Cosmopolitanism in early twentieth-century China was chiefly associated with political ideals. The author contends that as an intellectual discourse, cosmopolitanism also made a visible impact on the literary landscape. Literary translation was a field where the cosmopolitan spirit was most clearly discerned, and children’s literature is especially relevant to cosmopolitan thinking due to its association with humanist ideals in the Chinese enlightenment endeavor. After an attempt at defining cosmopolitanism in its specific historical and contextual background, this article moves on to a detailed look at Zheng Zhenduo’s (1898–1958) cosmopolitan consciousness and its link with his advocacy for translating children’s literature. The selection of genres and authors, and the strategies of translation are examined in detail. The case helps to reveal that the translation of children’s literature in early twentieth-century China, which first grew out of the Chinese nationalist movement, came to be increasingly tinged with deep cosmopolitan ramifications that sought continuously to disrupt mainstream nationalist discourse. The article also shows that the translator, caught in the vicissitudes of the early twentieth century, disrupted the frequently-assumed dichotomies between the cosmopolitan and the local, and between cosmopolitanism and patriotism, not through theory or discourse, but through the very act of translating. As such, the historical case of China might also provide some interesting insights into the role of children’s literature translation in constructing the world we inhabit.


Cosmopolitanism Translation Children’s literature Zheng Zhenduo Early twentieth-century China 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, School of HumanitiesTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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