Garibaldi as a Xia (Chinese Knight-errant): On the Transformation of Heroic Narratives in Late Qing China

Dr.  Wendong Cui5

5City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

This article examines the transformation of the image of the Italian hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, in the late Qing China and its implication. Faced with a national crisis, Chinese intellectuals at the time launched an unprecedent enterprise of translating biographies of Western military heroes. Known for his tremendous achievement in the Risorgimento and his legendary experience, Garibaldi drew fervent attention from various Chinese writers, and the translated texts won great popularity among Chinese readers. Although based on the Japanese translations borrowed from English texts, these Chinese biographies developed a distinctive interpretation of the hero by labeling him as a xia (Chinese Knight-errant). By tracing the formation process of the discourse, the article will argue that the Chinese interpretation of Garibaldi not only drew on indigenous sources of narrative on xia, but also assimilated the Japanese portrayal of the hero during the early Meiji Period. In other word, the image of Garibaldi in Chinese texts is shaped through transcultural negotiation. By introducing the new discourse on xia, the Chinese writers reconciled the Western hero worship with the repressed indigenous military tradition.


Biography

Cui Wendong is Assistant Professor at the City University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on modern Chinese literature and places a strong emphasis on transcultural translation. In 2015-2016, he was a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Institute. He won the Stephen C. Soong Translation Studies Memorial Award two times.

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