no. 4

Seeking Reconciliation through Translation: A Study on W. H. Medhurst's Translation of "Li (理)" in Cheng-Zhu Confucianism
Author:Siyang Shuai    Time:2021-03-26    Click:

Title: Seeking Reconciliation through Translation: A Study on W. H. Medhurst’s Translation of “Li ()” in Cheng-Zhu Confucianism

Abstract: As the core concept in Lixue 理学 (or Cheng-Zhu Confucianism), Li has all along been endowed with complicated meanings, signifying moral principles as well as the transcendent origin and governing power of the universe. It attracted scholarly attention of the westerners since early Qing period, when Lixue was established as the Chinese orthodoxy. In 1844, Walter Henry Medhurst, a British missionary in China, published a partial translation of Yuzuan Zhuzi Quanshu (The Imperial Edition of the Complete Works of Zhu Xi), which is the first ever English translation of Zhu Xi’s 朱熹philosophical works. The translation’s importance also lies in the fact that it imposed a great influence on renowned sinologists in the 19th century. The present paper, therefore, focuses on Medhurst’s rewriting of Li in his translation. It combines textual and contextual analysis to reveal how and why the missionary-translator rewrites the concept.

Keywords: Walter Henry Medhurst, Cheng-Zhu Confucianism, Yuzuan Zhuzi Quanshu, Missionary Translation of Chinese Classics

Author: Siyang Shuai, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

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