O’Casey in China
That the Chinese should have been interested in Irish drama as far back as the 1920s sounds incredible, yet the fact remains that in 1926, a collection of six plays by J. M. Synge, including Riders to the Sea and The Playboy of the Western World, translated by the poet—historian Guo Mo-ruo, was published in Shanghai. Articles on Irish literature in general had appeared in the literary reviews in Shanghai and elsewhere even earlier. One notices, for instance, that Mao Dun, who was to become the best novelist of the ensuing decades, wrote an essay entitled “A Counter-current in Contemporary Literature — New Writing in Ireland” in the Eastern Miscellany (vol. XVII, no. 6, March 1920). Somewhat later, Lu Xun, the famous story writer and essayist, translated a Japanese article entitled “Irish Literature: A Survey” for the magazine Rushing Stream (vol. II, no. 2, June 1929). A curious fact: all three founding fathers of China’s New Literature took a hand in directing Chinese attention to Irish new writing.
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