This article analyses perceptions of China in Russia and of Russia in China by focusing on exchange through material culture, including the tea trade and the borrowing of architectural styles. It demonstrates that some things Chinese became domesticated in Russia, having first arrived there in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, whereas others continued to represent an exotic “China.” Fewer things Russian were familiar in imperial China. In twentieth-century China, Russia became closely associated with Communism, while the idea of “Russia” was also fashioned via cultural and material exchange. Other areas of historical contact between Russia and European countries and China and Asian countries have been mapped out by extensive research. This article argues that the field of contact between Russia and China has been neglected because historians have grown too used to conceptualizing relations between Europeans and Asians in terms of a confrontation of West and East.
The important place of Russian literature in China is widely acknowledged. To better understand the processes of its translation, transmission and interpretation during the first half of the 20th century, this book draws on an array of Chinese and Russian sources, providing insight into the interplay of political ideologies, cultural trends, commercial forces, and the self-definition of Chinese culture in the period under consideration. By focusing on the translation and translators of three writers, Boris Savinkov, Mikhail Artsybashev and Leonid Andreev, it analyzes the critical fortune in China of the modernist literature written in Russia during the two decades preceding the Great War and Revolution. Offering a thorough study of Lu Xun, the most important Chinese author of the 20th century, as a reader, translator and interpreter of Russian literature, this book also displays the variety of the groups and persons involved in the introduction of foreign literature, going beyond shopworn generalizations about “East” and “West” to make meaningful statements about a complex period in Chinese history.