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Found in Translation: “New People” in Twentieth-Century Chinese Science Fiction (Jing Jiang)

AAS Asia Shorts book series. 9780924304941. 144 Pages.

What will the world look like in the future? How do people think and act in that future world? What constitutes the allures or hidden dangers of being modern? These are questions science fiction is uniquely equipped to entertain as a genre, a genre that took on a seriousness and significance in twentieth-century China rarely seen in other parts of the world. While marginalized in standard literary history, science fiction was the privileged literary form originally, and repeatedly, entrusted with the modernization of the Chinese mind for the sake of nation-building. Since its introduction into China via translation at the beginning of the twentieth century as a type of new fiction bearing the badge of universal modernity, science fiction in China had always been associated with aspirations for membership in the modern world first and foremost, and in world literature secondarily. Found in Translation investigates Chinese science fiction as a phenomenon of world literature or a product of transculturation. Through exploring the multiple “textual pathways” as well as “conceptual and thematic networks” that exist between translations and creations during the two boom periods and beyond, the book highlights the ways in which science fiction intervened in critical debates on nationalism, realism, humanism, and environmentalism in twentieth-century China.

Found in Translation locates Chinese science fiction on the map of world literature. A brilliant combination of theoretical inquiries and cultural analysis, it traces the genre’s origin and development throughout the twentieth century, offering definitive interpretations of its key motifs and movements, and bringing together well-informed discussions on translation and nation, science and literature, humanism and realism.”  — Mingwei Song, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Wellesley College, author of Young China: National Rejuvenation and the Bildungsroman, 1900-1959 and co-editor of The Reincarnated Giant: An Anthology of Twenty-First-Century Chinese Science Fiction

“Jing Jiang’s Found in Translation is a welcome contribution to the fields of modern Chinese literature, translation, and science fiction studies, refuting popular assumptions of the genre’s cultural marginality. With science fiction—and its engagement with the discourse of science—situated at the nexus of popular culture, hard science, and high art, Jiang elucidates how SF writers, translators and critics engaged as active agents in the global circulation of scientific discourse. SF served as an intellectual map conceptualizing and helping plot the course for Chinese modernity, and intervening in the debate regarding the role of science and technology in the fate of humankind.” — Nathaniel Isaacson, Associate Professor, North Carolina State University, author of Celestial Empire: the Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction

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