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The Imprint of the Imprints: Sojourners, Xiaoshuo Translations, and the Transcultural Canon of Early Chinese Fiction in Europe, 1697-18261

In: East Asian Publishing and Society
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  • 1 Department of East Asian Languages and LiteraturesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OhioUSAsieber.6@osu.edu
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Abstract

This paper posits that the circulation of the earliest items of Chinese fiction in early modern Europe was indebted to the popularity of certain titles within the Qing-dynasty book market on the one hand and to the participation of educated Chinese in the process of purchase, selection, and translation on the other. It further argues that European translations deployed specific features of Chinese imprints in order to differentiate translations from the hugely popular pseudo-Chinese transcreations, thereby seeking to establish textual authority for a philologically grounded Chinese voice. The paper terms this convergence of conceptual, material, and social factors in producing transculturally mediated texts “biblioglossia,” in order to capture aspects of textuality neglected or obscured in standard discussions of “orientalism.”

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