Between Asianism and Nationalism The Story of Liang Qichao's Translation of Strange Encounters with Beautiful Women

Start - End 
2021 - 2025 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures



In Hundred Days' Reform (1898), Liang Qichao梁启超came acquainted with the concept of Asianism, and his motivation was to reform the Chinese political system. This article tells the story of Liang Qichao's translation of Strange Encounters with Beautiful Women (Jiaren qiyuji,佳人奇遇記) , a Japanese political novel Kajin no Kigū(佳人之奇遇)by Shiba Shiro. When translating the two parts of the novel, Liang Qichao displayed different attitudes, revealing how he accepted and reflected on Asianism from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. The first half of the novel describes that revolutionaries from the invaded country become friends in Philadelphia, USA, and have an Asianist tendency of advocating Asian unity and China and Japan jointly resisting Western aggression. The emergence of Fan Qing, the old adherent of the past dynasty, and his plan to revitalize Asia showed that Asianism was not entirely just, and it might also be used against the Qing Dynasty. The second half of the novel details Japan's campaign against Korea, as well as the protagonist's involvement in the assassination of Korea's Empress Myeongseong. Liang Qichao made numerous deletions and adaptations to this section, demonstrating his awareness of Asianism's imperialist core. The translation history of the novel reflects the efforts of Chinese and Japanese intellectuals to seek a modern road, and Asianism has become an important ideological resource in this period and inspired the birth of nation-states.