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«Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Doktors der Philosophie an der Fakultät für Sprach-, Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften der ...»

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Shakespeare in China

Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Doktors der Philosophie an der Fakultät

für Sprach-, Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften der Technischen Universität Dresden

Vorgelegt von Yanna Sun

Geboren am 16.05.1971 in V. R. China

Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Uwe Böker

Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Mohr

Prof. Dr. Alexander C. Y. Huang

Die Einreichung: April 2008



Shakespeare in China



Textual Notes


1 The History of China’s Reception of Shakespeare

1.1 Initial Phase (from Mid-19th Century to the Turn of 20th Century)....... 13

1.2 Transitional Phase (from 1903 to 1920)

1.3 Real Beginnings of Chinese Shakespeare (from 1921 to 1949)................ 18

1.4 Dawning of Chinese Shakespearean Criticism (in the 1950s)................. 21

1.5 A Halt to Shakespearean Studies (during the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976)

1.6 Resuscitation of Shakespearean Studies (after the Cultural Revolution)

1.7 The Flowering of Shakespearean Studies (from the 1980s to the End of 20th Century)

1.8 A Promising Future of Chinese Shakespeare (the 21st Century)............ 34 2 Similarities between Shakespearean and Traditional Chinese Theatre

2.1 Script

2.1.1 Source

2.1.2 Structure

2.1.3 Imperial Theme

2.2 Stage

2.2.1 Verbal Image

2.2.2 Supernatural Elements

2.2.3 Use of Aside or Soliloquy

2.2.4 Free Deployment of Time and Space

3 Shakespearean Translations in China

3.1 Difficulties in Translating Shakespeare

3.1.1 Language Divergences

3.1.2 Cultural Differences

3.2 Methods of Rendering Shakespeare

3.2.1 Chinese Translation Theory

3.2.2 Translating Methods Literal Translation in Rendering Shakespear Free translation in Rendering Shakespeare

Shakespeare in China

3.3 Literary Form in Translating Shakespeare

3.3.1 Fiction Form

3.3.2 Prose Form

3.3.3 Verse Form

3.4 Rendering Complete Plays of Shakespeare

3.4.1 Cao Weifeng

3.4.2 Liang Shiqiu

3.4.3 Zhu Shenghao

3.4.4 Fang Ping

4 Shakespearean Criticism in China

4.1 Introducing Western Shakespearean Criticism

4.2 Marxist Shakespearean Criticism

4.3 Comparative Shakespearean Criticism

4.3.1 Comparing Plays

4.3.2 Comparing Writers

4.3.3 Comparing Characters

5 Performing Shakespeare on the Chinese Stage

5.1 The Western Style

5.2 The Chinese Style

5.3 A Hybrid of the Western and the Chinese Style

5.3.1 Spoken Drama

5.3.2 Traditional Chinese Drama

6 Chinese Productions of Shakespeare

6.1 The History Play King Richard III

6.1.1 The Shakespearean Text: General Remarks The Date of Composition The Sources Plot and Structure Stage History

6.1.2 The 1986 Chinese Version of Richard III – li cha san shi........... 132 The Context of the 1986 Production Western Elements in the Production The Make-up and Costumes Theatrical Realism Alterations in the Production The Added Prologue The Visulization of Murder On-stage

6.2 The Tragedy Hamlet

6.2.1 The Shakespearean Text: General Remarks The Date of Composition The Sources

Shakespeare in China The Ur-Hamlet Play Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques Plot and Structure Stage History

6.2.2 The 1989 Adaptation of Hamlet – Ha mu lai te The Context of the 1989 Adaptation Innovations in the Adaptation The Mise en Scène The Play within the Play Thematic Rearrangement Textual Structure Role-Transition

6.3 The Comedy Much Ado About Nothing

6.3.1 The Shakespearean Text: General Remarks The Date of Composition The Sources Plot and Structure Stage History

6.3.2 Much Ado About Nothing in the Huangmeixi Genre The Huangmeixi Genre The Chinese Adaptation Looking for Trouble The Shakespearean Spirit Kept in the Adaptation 200 Traditional Chinese Elements in the Performance 204 Theatrical Conventions Characterization The Added Prologue Singing Arias Visual Imagination Simultaneous Staging Cultural Conventions



1 Primary Literature

2 Research Literature

2.1 Books

2.2 Articles

2.3 Internet


–  –  –

Acknowledgements First and foremost I want to thank the Institute of English and American Studies at Dresden University of Technology, who gave me the chance to pursue my studies on Shakespeare in China.

I am greatly indebted to my mentor Prof. Dr. Böker for giving me time after his retirement from the faculty to comment on my manuscript from time to time. Thanks are also due to Prof. Dr. Mohr, who read through my dissertation.

I am grateful to those Shakespearean scholars, such as He Qixin, Meng Xianqiang, Cao Shujun, Sun Fuliang, Li Ruru, Zhang Xiaoyang, Alexander Huang and Murray J.

Levith, who have contributed to Shakespearean studies in China and provided me with valuable information about Shakespeare in China.

My acknowledgements go to many individuals, who helped me in collecting books, articles and videos from China. Guo Qihua, who is working in Shanghai, bought videos there for me and then sent them to me via the Internet. I am grateful to Xu Weiguo and Wang Kewen for their friendly help; to Zhan Cheng for encouraging me to continue my studies in Germany and for searching materials for me in his spare time. Deserving special mention is Prof. Alexander Huang in the USA, who emailed his Ph.D. dissertation “Shakespeare on the Chinese Stage 1839-2004” and posted videos of Chinese performances of Shakespeare to me.

In addition, I wish to thank Sue Webber in Birmingham for giving me the time she never really had, for commenting on my writing, and for proofreading my drafts.

Finally, most thanks go to my parents, my husband and my lovely two-year-old daughter Shimeng left in China, who have been devotedly supporting my studies abroad in Germany.

–  –  –

Textual Notes Due to the complexity of Chinese pinyin with four tones, I prefer to give the exact corresponding Chinese characters in the footnote, when Chinese names and phrases are mentioned for the first time in the dissertation, so as to help the Chinese to read them more fluently. I have used this method for those distinguished scholars in Chinese literary circles, Shakespearean studies in particular.

With regard to the Chinese authors mentioned in the dissertation, their names are given in the Chinese tradition, that is, family names come before given names. When listing the sources of the quotations from their works in the footnotes and bibliography, the westernized customs are adopted. For example, He Qixin for the Chinese Shakespearean scholar 何其辛 in the body of my work and Qixin He, China’s Shakespeare in quotations.

If the author has written his or her paper in Chinese or German, I have translated it into English giving a free translation; in the meantime, the original Chinese and/or German text is copied in the footnote. All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.

In addition, all the quotations from Shakespeare’s plays are taken from editions which are indicated in the footnote. For example, Romeo and Juliet is from William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, repr. ed. Jill L. Levenson (Oxford: University Press, 2004), and all the quotations from Richard III are from William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Richard III, ed.

John Jowett (Oxford: University Press, 2000).

–  –  –

Introduction William Shakespeare (1564-1616), a preeminent English poet and dramatist, came from Stratford-Upon-Avon, but did his writing in London. With his life’s works he has contributed greatly to world literature with his 154 sonnets, 4 poems and some plays, which are generally classified as tragedy, comedy, and history plays. How many plays did he really write? Shakespeare is considered to have written in total 37 plays, all included in Complete Works of William Shakespeare, though during his lifetime only eighteen of his plays were published in the Quarto editions and later his two fellows John Heminge (1556-1630) and Henry Condell (?-1627) edited 36 plays (without Pericles, Prince of Tyre) in the First Folio in 1623. In respect of Two Noble Kinsmen and Edward III, many scholars have attributed them to him, regarding the first play as the result of cooperation between John Fletcher (1579-1625) and him; and the second either him as the sole author or as a collaborator. No matter how many plays he wrote, Shakespeare has exerted a great influence on world literature: some famous writers have taken Shakespeare’s poems or quotations from his plays as titles for their works, for instance William Somerset Maugham’s (1874-1965) Cakes and Ale (1930) from Twelfth Night or William Faulkner’s (1897-1962) The Sound and the Fury (1929) from Macbeth. “In the history of English literature, Shakespeare’s significance lies not only in his insights into humanity and in his unsurpassed achievements as a literary genius in revolutionizing the form of poetry and drama, but more importantly also in his position that provides, firstly, a transition from medieval to modern literature and, secondly, a milestone in the formation of English literature as a national literature.” 1 Ironically, Shakespeare in his time was not as famous as after his death. From the eighteenth century onwards, critics and scholars in English-speaking countries began to assess him and his works in depth. Shakespearean studies have flourished and Shakespearean productions, which his friendly rival Ben Kwok-kan Tam, “Introduction: Universalism and Transnationalism in Shakespeare”, in Shakespeare Global/Local: The Hong Kong Imaginary in Transcultural Production, eds. Kwok-kan Tam, Andrew Parkin, and Terry Siu-han Yip (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2002), p. 2.

Shakespeare in China Jonson so prophetically praised as “not of an age, but for all time” 2, have been performed on stage ever since. However, has Shakespeare been received with the same enthusiasm across the national and linguistic boundaries in China?

In “The Paradox of Shakespeare in China”, Murray J. Levith acknowledged that Shakespeare “is undoubtedly the most recognized and reputed foreign writer in China”, but

at the same time he criticized the way the Chinese have taken up Shakespeare as follows:

The Chinese have mostly appropriated and adapted the playwright for their own purposes. They have dressed the Bard in various Chinese opera styles, forced him to be an apologist for Marxism-Leninism, celebrated his clunkers, neglected several of his masterpieces, excised sex, religion and contrary politics from his texts, added to them, and at times simplified, corrupted, or misunderstood his characters and themes.

Perhaps more than any other nation, China has used a great artist to forward its own ideology rather than meet him on his ground. 3 Obviously, Levith objects to such sinicization of Shakespearean plays. His opinion is very blunt: a Chinese director or adaptor should indiscriminately follow the dramatic tradition of Shakespeare’s time, with the performer wearing Elizabethan costumes and using archaic language to a Chinese audience in the twenty-first century. Undoubtedly, however, even in England, there have been huge cultural changes from Shakespeare’s age to the present day.

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