The reception of Jane Austen in China

Sun, Shuo (2016) The reception of Jane Austen in China. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In China, Jane Austen is today widely acknowledged as one of the greatest English writers. Yet her literary reputation has altered greatly since her works were first introduced to Chinese readers in the early decades of the twentieth century. This thesis will examine and explain the major changes in the Chinese reception of Austen in light of the political, social, and cultural upheavals experienced by the country over the last century. The introduction will provide a historical overview of Chinese translation and criticism of Austen’s novels. During the first half of the twentieth century, Austen was generally disapproved of by Chinese critics for restricting her writing to a limited social sphere and her fame therefore grew slowly. I will discuss the influence of Chinese political history on critical assessments regarding Austen’s conservatism and realism. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Marxism came to dominate the literary and cultural scenes. As a consequence, some Chinese translators attempted to incorporate Austen’s works into a Marxist canon, but failed. I will investigate the profound impact of the Communist Party’s political campaigns on the translation and reception of Western literature in China from the 1950s to the 1970s.

However, since the 1980s Austen has enjoyed a rapid rise in critical reputation and popularity in China, with her six major novels all appearing in Chinese. However, there are presently significant differences in the reception of each of these novels. The six main chapters of this thesis will examine the reasons behind the popularity of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma and the relative obscurity of Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. In doing so, I will explore Chinese critics’ views of Austen’s connection to feminism, conservatism, and romanticism as well as areas of literary debate in her time. I will demonstrate the radical changes in Chinese approaches to Austen’s works in recent decades. This thesis also aims to compare the reception of Austen in China to that in Britain, and contains questionnaire and interview surveys that were conducted among undergraduate students at the University of Nottingham’s China and UK campuses.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Guy, Josephine
Pratt, Lynda
Keywords: Jane Austin, China, English literature
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 38499
Depositing User: Sun, Shuo
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 12:53

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