By Mark Gamsa
Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 29, no.1 (Spring 2017), pp. 204-238
The essay traces the previously unstudied history of the publication in Shanghai in 1936 of an album of illustrations for Nikolai Gogol’s novel Dead Souls. Lu Xun, who was then in the last year of his life, was closely involved in this project while engaged in the translation of the Russian novel into Chinese via German and Japanese. The person who acquired the rare album and translated its introduction and the captions of the pictures directly from the Russian was Meng Shihuan, a young collaborator of Lu Xun: a forgotten agent in the dissemination of Russian literature in China. Through a close reading of Lu Xun’s speculations about the previous owner of the Russian book, which Meng had discovered and acquired, we arrive at an understanding of translation as part of the history of cross-cultural contact.