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Introduction and Commentary of Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji

  • JOURNAL OF CHINESE STUDIES
  • 2019, (63), pp.403-438
  • DOI : 10.26585/chlab.2019..63.015
  • Publisher : CHINESE STUDIES INSTITUTE
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature
  • Received : February 9, 2019
  • Accepted : March 2, 2019
  • Published : March 31, 2019

Kim, soo kyung 1

1상지대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Among the non-Han minorities, the Manchus were an ethnic group who ruled the Chinese continent for the longest period of time. They were the ruling elites of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), attaining a dominant position over the Han Chinese. However, the linguistic and cultural exertions of the Manchus were relatively limited, and thus they strived to actively engage with the language and culture of the Han in order to preserve and reinforce their native language and cultural identity, which were yet to be firmly established. The Qing court installed Bureau of Translation within the imperial palace, and had the professional translators render the Han Chinese literary works, such as Book of Songs and Records of the Three Kingdom, into the Manchu scripts. During the span of nearly two centuries from 1650 to 1848, the Manchus translated more than fifty works of Classical Chinese literature including The Romance of the Western Chamber (Xixiang ji 西廂記), the famous love story of Yingying and Zhangsheng cherished by the Chinese for more than a thousand years. This paper provides a modern Korean translation of The Manchu-Han Bilingual version of the Romance of the Western Chamber (Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji 滿漢合璧西廂記), which is a Manchu translation of Ming dynasty drama Xixiang ji, and examines its characteristics. Xixiang ji is a work that exerted a significant influence on the adjacent countries and minority groups. It is the most translated work among the classical Chinese dramas, entailing a wide variety of criticisms, adaptations, and annotated reading aids. The Manchus translated Xixiang ji into their language in 1708 and 1710 and published Si siyang gi bithe 滿文西廂記, which remains as a sole dramatical work that is in the Manchu script. Then why did the Manchus translate Xixiang ji? What is the significance of this act of translation and how did these works contribute to dissemination of classical Chinese literature? Why did the Manchus translate a drama rather than a novel? Why did the Qing court translate and circulate Xixiang ji within the imperial palace, a work that was deemed corrupting public morals and thus banned? To what extent did the Manchus understand and embrace the Han Chinese dramas? These are the questions that I intend to address through translating and analyzing Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji. The Manchu literature has not been much studied, for it was seen that the Manchus did not have their own literary works. However, the Manchus indeed had literary works of various genres, including the considerable amount of translated works of the classical Chinese literature. This study of Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji intends to illuminate the Manchu’s linguistic customs, culture, perception and reception of the classical Chinese literature. The study of classical Chinese literary works in the Manchu scripts including Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji is necessary for the following reasons. First, it facilitates the understanding of the direct linguistic interaction and mergence of Manchu and Chinese, which cannot be obtained only by looking at Xixiang ji in Chinese, or Manchu literary work in Manchu script. Second, it enables us to grasp the characteristics of Manchu language and Manchu-Chinese translation through the vocabulary information found in Man-Han hebi Xixiang ji, and thereby find the organic connection between Manchu and Chinese. Third, the comparative studies of the Manchu, Chinese, and Korean editions of Xixiang ji would further our understanding of East Asian linguistic exchanges occurred in the late 17th century. This is the first attempt at translating a drama in Manchu script in South Korea. This translation would provide abundant vocabulary information to the scholars of Manchu studies. It would also expand the pre-existing field of Qing literature, which eventually would expand the field of the classical Chinese literature. This study is an attempt at laying a ground for further studies, which in the long term would facilitate the firm establishment of Manchu studies in Korea.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.