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Edited by Carla Risseeuw and Marlein van Raalte

The concept of friendship is more easily valued than it is described: this volume brings together reflections on its meaning and practice in a variety of social and cultural settings in history and in the present time, focusing on Asia and the Western, Euro-American world.
The extension of the group in which friendship is recognized, and degrees of intimacy (whether or not involving an erotic dimension) and genuine appreciation may vary widely. Friendship may simply include kinship bonds—solidarity being one of its more general characteristics. In various contexts of travelling, migration, and a dearth of offspring, friendship may take over roles of kinship, also in terms of care.


Ranjini Obeyesekere

This article discusses three stories from the Jātaka Collection, a compendium of Buddhist folk stories—some of which date back to the third century bce. The collection as it exists today was complied, scholars believe, between the first and fifth centuries ce. Since that time it has been translated back and forth into many languages and has become part of the popular culture of the Asian Buddhist world.

The three stories the author has selected are from a fourteenth-century ce Sinhala text and focus around the theme of ‘friendship.’ They deal with three different forms of friendship as experienced in medieval Indian and Sri Lankan societies.


Nita Kumar

In this article I try to establish the class, gendered and provincial nature of friendship practices and discourses of ordinary people, such as artisans and workers, as well as making a case for friendship as performative.

There is a real history that constitutes elite and non-elite classes in India and their relationships and values. One of these values is dharma or a reasoned intuition of ‘what is appropriate’; another is the idea of enactment or play. I look at my interactions with my informants and friends, as well as a variety of other data about them, to argue that their understanding of ‘friendship’ is striking, not in that it permits an individualistic freedom in relationships, but in its elastic assumption that roles are performances. Not only was I, in the field, enacting friendship for ulterior research motives, but my informants, too, were likewise ‘performing friendship.’ Performing friendship was all there was to do.


Albert Joosse

In the Athens of the fourth century bce we find a new conceptualization of friendship. This conceptualization has been made possible by a new understanding of wisdom. The most influential statement of the new view is found in the Platonic dialogue Alcibiades i.

The way for the central role of wisdom in this picture has been paved by larger cultural changes. In order to provide a suitable context for an intellectualist understanding of wisdom and for the emergence of the new model of friendship, the first section of this paper describes earlier ways of thinking about relationships, with special attention to the place of wisdom with regard to them.

The new model involves at least three items: two friends and one goal. The two friends are friends in moving towards the goal. Reversely, the goal is part of what constitutes the friendship. This means that the goal is not conceptualized as something extraneous to the friendship, something that serves as an instigating factor, for instance. Rather, it is the essence of the friendship. We shall see how this works in the original form in which the new conceptualization emerged; here the goal is wisdom, which is both the essence of the two friends’ relationship and something that is present or to be realized in each of the friends.


James St. André

This paper sets out to demonstrate that pseudo-translation is an integral part of the history of translation, playing a vital role at certain times and places. Specifically, I demonstrate that for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, pseudo-translation was actually an important player in the contested field of translations from oriental languages and the emergent discipline of Oriental studies. Such works were part of that field of knowledge, both at the specialist and the popular level, and helped shape contemporary European conceptions of the orient. Drawing on the work of Gideon Toury and Theo Hermans for theoretical justification, I use Bourdieu’s concept of the field of literary production to examine the interaction between genuine and pseudo-translations from Chinese into English from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, focusing in particular on Sir John Francis Davis’s genuine translation, The Sorrows of Han, and Frederick Marryat’s pseudo-translation, The Pacha of Many Tales, which incorporates and orientalizes Davis’s translation.

China and Its Others

Knowledge Transfer through Translation, 1829-2010


Edited by James St. André and Hsiao-yen PENG

This volume brings together some of the latest research by scholars from the UK, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to examine a variety of issues relating to the history of translation between China and Europe, aimed at increasing dialogue between Chinese studies and translation studies. Covering the nineteenth century to the present, the essays tackle a number of important issues, including the role of relay translation, hybridity and transculturation, methods for the incorporation of foreign words and concepts, the problems entailed by the importation of foreign paradigms and epistemes, the role of public institutions, the issue of agency, and the role of metaphors to conceptualize translation. By examining the dissemination of certain key terms from the West to the East, often through pivotal languages, and by laying bare the transformation of knowledge conveyed through these terms, the essays go well beyond the “difference and similarity” comparison model in the investigation of East-West relations, demonstrating that transcultural hybridity is a more meaningful topic to pursue. Moreover, they demonstrate how the translator, always working simultaneously under several domestic and foreign institutions, needs to resort to “selection, deletion and compromise”, in other words personal free choice, when negotiating among institutional powers.


Joyce C. H. Liu

Wang Guowei's translations of utilitarian ethics and education theory reveal clearly the role that he played at Education World and as a Chinese intellectual. His participation in the public discourse fit into the plans of Luo Zhenyu both at the journal and later at the Ministry of Education of the late Qing government. Those theories of ethics and education Wang and Luo introduced became the main axis of Chinese ethical thought throughout the twentieth century; they defined the terms in which the subject related to society or the state. This essay points out that, during his exploration of the limits of Western and classical Chinese ethics, Wang’s own philosophical writings at the time analyzed the limitations of dualism in the ethical discourse both in the West and in Chinese classical philosophy. Wang demonstrated a critique of utilitarianism and life-ism (生生主義) that was popular at the time. As well as a critique, he also developed an aesthetic and ethical view: no-life-ism (無生主義).


Peng Hsiao-yen

Tracing the traveling of neurasthenia, a modern disease, this paper starts with a 1933 Shanghai Neo-Sensation story in which a modern boy resorts to medical and psychological terms to engage in self-analysis. The story shows it is through translation that we learn to name our perceptions and mental illnesses. The paper then investigates the relationships between knowledge/power and the translator’s agency and creativity. During the process of cultural translation, facing the interactions of different institutional practices—Confucianism, Buddhism, traditional medicine and Western medical science—how does the translator practice the art of “selection, deletion, and compromise”? It is through “individual free choice” that the translator manages to cross the boundaries of institutional practices in order to create.