Broken Tools

Michael Gibbs Hill

in Lin Shu, Inc.

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199892884
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980062 | DOI:

Series: Global Asias

Broken Tools

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By the turn of the twentieth century, both the methods of translation Lin Shu and his collaborators employed and the language they used to write their translations had come to be regarded by many as inadequate for the tasks they faced. They were, it seemed, broken tools of limited use in the mighty labors of acquiring modern knowledge and promoting political and cultural reform. By moving beyond the disavowal of these purportedly failed practices and engaging with their historical origins, this chapter lays the groundwork for understanding how Lin Shu and his collaborators built up institutional and cultural positions and how the literary writings they produced reflect back on the questionable means employed to make them. In the cases of both “tandem translation” (duiyi) and ancient-style prose (guwen), the chapter places the problem of their legitimacy as tools for transmitting and apprehending knowledge in a global context with links to other colonized and semicolonized spaces in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century world.

Keywords: translation; language reform; classical Chinese; vernacular Chinese; missionaries; Kang Youwei (surname listed first) Liang Qichao (surname listed first) Yan Fu (surname listed first)

Chapter.  11147 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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