Constructing the Modern Self in Translation (I): Hu Shi

  • Limin Chi
Part of the New Frontiers in Translation Studies book series (NFTS)


In the previous chapter, we examined how a “commonality of attitude” (Davies 2007) or taidu tongyixing (Wang 2004) grew out of the activities of literary journals and literary societies, of which translation was an integral part. In the 1890s and 1900s, translators, of whom Yan Fu and Liang Qichao were leading figures, espoused the translation of social science and fiction as instrumental to the construction of modern identity. The mid to late 1910s saw Chen Duxiu, Hu Shi, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren and others emerging as influential practitioners and patrons of translation. The idea of translation as a vehicle for China’s cultural modernization was presented through a sharpened distinction between “old” and “new.” In their repudiation of what they denounced as old morality (jiu daode) and old thinking (jiu sixiang), New Culture leaders declared their faith in individual autonomy (geren duli) and healthy development of individuality (gexing de jiankang fazhan), as well as the universal value of justice (gongli) as a shared ideal. Self-transformation to aid China’s modernization occupied a central place in stories and translations published in leading magazines such as New Youth, Short Story Monthly and New Tide. By the early to mid-1920s, the goal of self-transformation had become less unified. The shared purpose of New Youth contributors and founding members had fractured into opposite political goals by 1923.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Limin Chi
    • 1
  1. 1.Kiangsu-Chekiang CollegeHong KongHong Kong SAR

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