Translation’s Forgotten History: Russian Literature, Japanese Mediation, and the Formation of Modern Korean Literature


ACLS Fellowship Program


Asian Languages and Literature


Translation today is generally considered a lesser form of literary creation. It would sound implausible to us to include translations of foreign works into the canon of national literary histories. But the formative period of modern literature in East Asia offers us a different understanding of translation. Around the turn of the twentieth century, translation was considered a creative and authentic activity that stood alongside other forms of prose writing in both fiction and non-fiction. Through examination of Korean intellectuals’ translation of Russian prose through Japanese mediation, this project ultimately aims to reinstate translation as a practice that produces new meaning and generates change in society, and to rethink the way that modern literature developed in East Asia.