China Institute seminar series - Interpreting Lu Xun’s early thought from the Japan years

Not long after he withdrew from medical studies at Sendai and returned to Tokyo in 1906, Lu Xun (1881-1936) began research on the history and philosophy of science, modern European thought, and comparative literature which produced five treatises of considerable length, which he eventually published in Henan, a Chinese expatriate journal of the Tongmeng Hui, in an archaistic classical prose style influenced by that of Zhang Taiyan. Central to, and the longest among these essays, is Moluo shi li shuo (On the Power of Māra Poetry), which focuses on literature, East and West and, in particular, the Byronic poets and their international legacy. In reading, translating, annotating and analyzing this essay, one meets with a number of quotations and terms derived originally from Western sources, sometimes through a secondary Japanese, German, or English translation. This talk will focus on issues that arise in the translation and interpretation of that essay, in particular on the question of determining the source text, what bearing that has or should have on scholarly translation and demonstrate how the study of textual issues in the “new sinology” can shed light not only on texts but also on literary and intellectual history during the late-Qing and early Republican eras.

About the Speaker

Jon Kowallis received his PhD in Chinese Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and have taught at UCLA, the University of Oregon, Williams College, Charles University (Prague), Melbourne University and the University of New South Wales. He has published two monographs: The Lyrical Lu Xun: a Study of his Classical-style Verse (University of Hawaii Press, 1996) and The Subtle Revolution: Poets of the ‘Old Schools’ during Late Qing and Early Republican China (University of California, Berkeley, IEAS Monographs 2006) and translations of pre-modern Chinese jokes, published and reprinted under various titles including Wit and Humour from Old Cathay (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1986). He also writes in Chinese and has published articles and reviews in Lu Xun Yanjiu Yuekan and other journals in China, the US and Taiwan.

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After the Seminar

To allow for informal discussion, the seminar will be followed by drinks at the Fellows Bar at University House and a dinner beginning at 6:30pm with the guest speaker at the Red Chilli Restaurant. All are welcome, though due to budget limitations, participants will need to pay for their own drinks and food.

As reservations must be made at the restaurant, please RSVP by noon on the day before the seminar to Jasmine jasmine.lin@anu.edu.au if you are interested in attending dinner. There is no need to RSVP for drinks.

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute