This book has been in the making since the beginning of my doctoral studies. It absorbed most of my energy and has been the cause of much distress and gratification—the former transient, the latter hopefully enduring. Still, its publication would not have been possible without the support, along the road, of a number of mentors, colleagues, friends, and important persons, to whom I dedicate it.
I want to thank Marco Ceresa, who encouraged me to pursue my passion for the study of Chinese literature when I was still an undergraduate in Venice, and Nicoletta Pesaro, who followed this project as it started to coalesce in the vaguely-coherent mind of a graduate student. I am equally grateful to Gregory B. Lee and Florent Villard, who accepted me in Lyon despite my atrocious French, and provided much needed guidance when I most needed it. I will remember my dissertation’s defense in Venice as one of the most constructive conversations I had on the issues tackled in these pages.
I am particularly grateful to Professors Lawrence Wong and James St. André at the Department of Translation of the Chinese University of Hong Kong for having supported me in the early steps of my postdoctoral career. The stimulating environment of the Department proved absolutely essential to the transformation of my dissertation into something worthy of a larger public.
Upon surviving peer-review, this book acquired its final shape at Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context,” benefiting greatly from my joining the collaborative research project “East Asian Uses of the European Past” supported by the HERA network and led by Professor Joachim Kurtz. I consider it a privilege to be part of such a fantastic group of scholars.
But gratitude is not only a function of institutional ties. A special note of thanks goes to Carine Defoort, whose kind words of support made a crucial difference at a time in which feelings of professional directionlessness and uncertainty were overwhelming. Furthermore, I also want to thank Nathaniel Isaacson, Peter Zarrow, David Wang, Catherine Yeh, and Song Mingwei: though we may have met and talked sporadically, your feedback on my work was always useful and appreciated.
Finally, I want to thank my family and friends: the former—my father Giancarlo, my mother Luisa, and my brother Giacomo—for having put up with my scholarly ambitions against reasonable common sense; the latter for having provided during all these years an invaluable support network. Lists are always tricky, in that they put on record both memory and forgetfulness, but if I were to name the core elements of this network, these would be: Giulia, Alessandro, Andrea, and Margherita; Paolo, Tobia, Sara, and Sara; Vanessa, Davide, and Biagio; Daniel, Germain, Michal, Tim, and Crystal; Mert and Peter; Markus, Emily, and Chun. And Teresa, who gave me perspective and kept me grounded to what is important.