Alice in the Chinese Language Wonderland

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Wednesday 10 October 2018


Basham Room


Jane Weizhen Pan


Jane Weizhen Pan

This study explores connections between the first Chinese translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the development of modern Chinese language in the twentieth century, especially in the 1920s. It discusses how Alice, the endearing little girl from Oxford, became a literary witness to changes in Chinese language and literature. It seeks to make a contribution to the studies of Lewis Carroll’s works.

The first Chinese translation of Alice Adventures in Wonderland was published at a transitional point for the Chinese language: a time when scholars, linguists and writers were passionately debating various aspects of the Chinese language and suggesting changes. This thesis discusses why and how translator Chao Yuen Ren used his translation to trial ideas raised during these debates. I will explore the background to the publication of Chao’s translation and present a few of the many instances of Chao’s experimentation resonating to the current day.

In addition, this thesis discusses how Chao’s translation influenced other Chinese writers who were enthusiastically experimenting with vernacular written Chinese as a preferred literary medium. I will give an overview of other Alice variations in Chinese literature.

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