The Chaucer Encyclopedia  

Edited by Richard Newhauser. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2023, pp. 1085-1086.  ISBN: 9781119087991     DOI: 10.1002/9781119086130.ch12

Alexa Alice Joubin’s entry expands the global scope of The Chaucer Encyclopedia (4 vols). This entry, in Volume 3, examines the work by the Chinese translator Lin Shu’s (1852-1924). Lin translated and rewrote several key stories from the Canterbury Tales. Joubin argues that Lin’s works exemplify early twentieth-century Chinese imaginaries of medieval England. 

     Joubin conducted philological tracing to reveal that Lin based his rewritings on Charles Cowden Clarke’s 1833 Tales from Chaucer in Prose, a prose rendition of ten tales intended for young audiences. Lin categorized most of the tales as fairy tales. Lin was the most prolific and influential translator of foreign literature in early twentieth-century China, who, in addition to rewriting Chaucer and Shakespeare (see shakespeare, william), rendered more than 180 Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and English dramas and novels into classical Chinese.

     Joubin’s research shows that Lin’s short stories rendered Chaucer in the Ming- and Qing-dynasty narrative tradition of love, filial piety, and exotic adventures. He applied a Confucian moral framework to turn Clarke’s Victorian rewriting intended for women and children into stories for the predominantly male elites in China. Lin’s texts gave the impression that Chaucer concentrated on fairies and ghosts. Lin used this strategic rewriting to counter the rhetoric deployed by those of his contemporaries who were in favor of totalWesternization and had been influenced by the Enlightenment and rationalism.

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