Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities

By Carla Nappi (NHC Fellow, 2012–13)

Translation Studies; Chinese Literature; Chinese History; Chinese Language; Ming Dynasty; Qing Dynasty; China

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2021

From the publisher’s description:

The history of China, as any history, is a story of and in translation. Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities tells the story of translation in China to and from non-European languages and Latin between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries, and primarily in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Each chapter finds a particular translator resurrected from the past to tell the story of a text that helped shape the history of translation in China. In Chinese, Mongolian, Manchu, Latin, and more, these texts helped to make the Chinese language what it was at different points in its history. Translating Early Modern China explores what the form of an academic history book might look like by playing with fictioning as part of the historian’s craft. The book’s many stories—of glossaries and official Ming translation bureaus, of bilingual Ming Chinese–Mongolian language primers, of the first Latin grammar of Manchu, of a Qing Manchu conversation manual, of a collection of Manchu poems by a Qing translator—serve as case studies that open out into questions of language and translation in China’s past, of the use of fiction as a historian’s tool, and of the ways that translation creates language.

Literature / History / Translation Studies / Chinese Literature / Chinese History / Chinese Language / Ming Dynasty / Qing Dynasty / China /

Nappi, Carla (NHC Fellow, 2012–13). Translating Early Modern China: Illegible Cities. Global Asias. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2021.