Agents of May Fourth. Jing Yinyu, Xu Zhongnian, and the Early Introduction of Modern Chinese Literature in France
Jing Yinyu (1901-1931?) and Xu Zhongnian (1904-1981) played a pivotal role in the dissemination of modern Chinese literature in France at the turn of the 1930s. Best known as Lu Xun’s first translator into a Western language and a friend of Romain Rolland’s, Jing compiled the Anthologie des conteurs chinois modernes in 1929. In his Anthologie de la littérature chinoise. Des origines à nos jours, published in 1932, Xu also devoted a section to recent literary developments. By analyzing the nature of the two projects, the translated corpora, and their paratexts, I will describe the features of Jing’s and Xu’s dissemination of May Fourth literature in France and scrutinize their artistic and ideological stance vis-à-vis the new literary scene. Ultimately, I will attempt to pinpoint in what terms the two scholars-cum-translators’ agency contributed to foreign readers’ awareness of the cultural, social and political experience of the May Fourth Movement.