Exhibiting Knowledge, Extending Network:
Translation Bricolage Columns of the Magazines
of the China Book Company, 1913–1916

By Michelle Jia Ye

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 32, no.2  (Fall 2020), pp. 277-322

The essay examines translation bricolage (yicong) columns in four magazines published by China Book Company (Zhonghua tushu guan, 1911-1933) in Shanghai. Chronicling the lifetime of China Book Company, the paper uses the magazines as a representative sample of the early Republican commercial literary journals, and notes the strong presence of translation in the publisher’s repertoire and in the magazine content. With a close reading of translation bricolage in the inaugural issues published in period 1913-1916, the paper observes that while the collaging of foreign sources was done in an eclectic manner not far from similar translation sections in late-Qing literary journals, translation bricolage occupied much more visible textual space in the magazines and exhibited a wider range of materials, signaling a new taste among the editors, translators and readers for the knowledge about the specifics. Tracing the works of some key translators, the paper sees the extension of the new taste in non-fiction topical translation columns for hygiene, magic and fine art, and the signs of a collaborative network of magazine translators. Synthesizing the observations, and considering the ordinariness of the four magazines, the paper put forward the view of translation bricolage as a mechanism for knowledge making and intellectual networking that may be of wide application in early-twentieth-century Chinese commercial literary press.