Intellectual intervention and English anthologies of Chinese literature of the 1980s


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This article portrays contemporary Chinese literature in English through the lens of literary anthologies. It outlines how the corpus of about 60 English anthologies of contemporary Chinese literary works can be understood collectively in a context of social change, whereas the yardstick of literary assessment follows very much a traditionalist approach that literature should reflect social truths. By addressing particular anthologists’ discourse of their compilation, this paper argues that the first badge of Chinese–English translation was produced more for ideological ends than aesthetic purposes. Translation was used more as a functional tool that propagates the anthologist’s or the publisher’s ideological agenda. It was rather unusual to see that non-literary experts were actively producing literary translations as a gateway to understand China. Whilst the wholesale presentation of Chinese authors in the post-Mao era through anthologies does create a quantitative presence in English, it is unclear whether such anthologies have made a significant impact on extending the Anglophone readers’ interest in (contemporary) Chinese literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
JournalAsia Pacific Translation and Intercultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • translation anthology
  • realism
  • realist literature
  • contemporary Chinese literature in English


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