On the Role of Translation in the Reconfiguration of Chinese Literary Field in the May Fourth Era

Hong-man LI


The May Fourth era was a vigorous period in translation theory and practice in China, as well as a crucial period for the formation of Chinese discourse of modernity. Taking some of Bourdieu’s concepts as a starting point, this paper attempts to study the key role of translation in the reconfiguration of Chinese literary field during the May Fourth era. Modern Chinese intellectuals relied on translation for articulation of their cultural enlightenment project, and derived much of their cultural power from their translation of Western works at that time. It is indicated that translation in the May Fourth era, far from being considered a secondary, marginal activity, constituted one of the important elements participating in the struggle for cultural legitimation and supremacy, and provided easy access to “cultural capital” and “symbolic power” for modern Chinese intellectuals in the Chinese discourse of modernity during the early twentieth century. Key words: translation; modernity; literary field; cultural capital; symbolic power; May Fourth era Résumé: La période du 4 mai a été non seulement une période vigoureuse des théories et des pratiques de traduction en Chine, mais aussi une période cruciale pour la formation du discours chinois de la moderne. En empruntant certains concepts de Bourdieu comme le point de départ, ce document tente d'étudier le rôle clé de la traduction dans la reconfiguration du champ littéraire chinois au cours de la période du 4 mai. A cette époque, les intellectuels chinois modernes se sont appuyés sur la traduction pour former leur projet culturel, et ils ont obtenu une grande partie de leur puissance culturelle de la traduction des œuvres occidentales. Il est indiqué que la traduction de la période du 4 mai, loin d'être considérée comme une activité secondaire et marginale, constituait l'un des éléments importants dans la lutte pour la légitimation et la suprématie culturelles, et qu'elle a facilité l'accès au «capital culturel» et au «pouvoir symbolique» pour les intellectuels chinois modernes dans le discours chinois de la modernité au cours du début du XXe siècle.Mots-clés: traduction; modernité; champ littéraire, capital culturel, pouvoir symbolique; période du 4 mai

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.css.1923669720100605.008


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; css@cscanada.net; css@cscanada.org

 Articles published in Canadian Social Science are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address1020 Bouvier Street, Suite 400, Quebec City, Quebec, G2K 0K9, Canada.

Website: Http://www.cscanada.net Http://www.cscanada.org 
E-mailcss@cscanada.net, css@cscanada.org

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture