Lin Shu, Inc.: Translation and the Making of Modern Chinese Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback 2015.

How could a writer who knew no foreign languages call himself a translator? How, too, did he become a major commercial success, churning out nearly two hundred translations over twenty years? With rich detail and lively prose, Michael Gibbs Hill shows how Lin Shu (1852-1924) rose from obscurity to become China’s leading translator of Western fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Along the way, Lin Shu, Inc. discusses the power of commercial print culture, the professionalization of the modern Chinese intellectual elite, and the global exchanges that accelerated the collision of old and new in twentieth-century China.

Lin Shu, Inc. was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 and was reviewed in twenty academic journals in the US, UK, and China.

“Lin Shu, Inc. brilliantly shows…the centrality of translation to the formation of cultural modernity in China and to the continuous process of reinventing the figure of the intellectual as the cultural vanguard.”

Journal of Asian Studies

“A lucid and penetrating account of the key issues concerning modern Chinese intellectual history: the repositioning of the intellectual, the need for a national language, and the meaning of tradition and modernity.”

Translation Review

“A masterful reevaluation of Lin Shu’s life…Hill’s original and lucid analysis details how 1920s cultural revolutionaries could so quickly depose Lin and deprecate his language, still hallowed in 1910, as outdated and, ironically, a medium for sentimental, light reading–a cultural dead end later associated with a meretricious ‘Shanghai type’ sensibility… Essential.”


What is China? Territory, Ethnicity, Culture, & History, by Ge Zhaoguang 葛兆光. A translation of He wei Zhongguo? 何为中国, with an introduction by the translator. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. 201 pages.

From the jacket copy: Ge Zhaoguang, an eminent historian of traditional China and a public intellectual, takes on fundamental questions that shape the domestic and international politics of the world’s most populous country and its second largest economy. What Is China? offers an insider’s account that addresses sensitive problems of Chinese identity and shows how modern scholarship about China—whether conducted in China, East Asia, or the West—has attempted to make sense of the country’s shifting territorial boundaries and its diversity of ethnic groups and cultures.

What is China? was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2018.

“This erudite polemic targets the aggressive nationalism that is widespread in China today.”

Foreign Affairs

The substantial corpus of Ge Zhaoguang’s writings on Chinese thought should assure us that these tantalizing and often provocative essays are based on a lifetime of scholarship. In this ably translated volume, the reader can rest assured that while our answers may differ, thoughtful Chinese and foreign scholars are wrestling with the same problems of ethnicity, culture, territory, and history.

The China Journal

China From Empire to Nation-State, by Wang Hui 汪晖. A translation of the general introduction to The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (Xiandai Zhongguo sixiangde xingqi 现代中国思想的兴起), with an introduction by the translator. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014. 200 pages.

From the jacket copy: This translation of the introduction to Wang Hui’s Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (2004) makes part of his four-volume masterwork available to English readers for the first time. A leading public intellectual in China, Wang charts the historical currents that have shaped Chinese modernity from the Song Dynasty to the present day, and along the way challenges the West to rethink some of its most basic assumptions about what it means to be modern.

China from Empire to Nation-State was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015.

China from Empire to Nation-State is continually rewarding, offering up new avenues of inquiry and revisiting links between Chinese modernity and the country’s imperial history. Three centuries on from Kangxi, there are still plenty of blanks in the map of modern China. For anglophone readers, this very overdue translation helps us see the lie of the land.”

Alex Monro, Times Literary Supplement

China from Empire to Nation-State, a stellar contribution to intellectual history, does something very rare: it enriches and expands our vocabulary. There will be no greater incentive to study the political and philosophical traditions of China—and of the non-West in general—than this consistently illuminating and bracing book.”

Pankaj Mishra

Articles and Book Chapters

“Frame Tales: Reading the 1,001 Nights in Early Twentieth-Century China.” Forthcoming in the Routledge World History of Chinese Literature, ed. Yingjin Zhang.

“Translation, Legibility, Sixiang.” Forthcoming in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Modern Chinese Literature in Translation, ed. Cosima Bruno, Lucas Klein, and Chris Song.

“Translating Iconoclasm: Sino-Muslim Azharites and South-South Translations.” The Cambridge History of World Literature, ed. Debjani Ganguly (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 513–526.

“Textbook Anthologies.” Literary Information in China: A History, ed. Jack Chen et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021), 284–290.

“Reading Distance: Port Louis, Cairo, Beijing.” PMLA 135, no. 5 (2020), 859–876.

“Lin Shu he tade hezuozhe he tade Aiji fenshen: zuozhede huiying” 林纾和他的合作者和他的埃及分身:作者的回应 (Lin Shu, his collaborators, and his Egyptian doppelgänger: a response from the author). Translated by Xu Lingjia 徐灵嘉 and Claire Liu 刘蕴芳. Wenxue 文学, Fall 2018 [published 2019], 284–289.

“Lin Shu and the Routes of World Literature.” The Wiley Companion to World Literature (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, 2020).

“Eliza Crosses the Ice—and an Ocean.” In A New Literary History of Modern China, ed. David Der-wei Wang et. al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 173–178.

“On Not Knowing: Translation, Knowledge Work, and Modern Literature.” In The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures, ed. Carlos Rojas and Andrea Bachner (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 131–148.

“New Script and a New ‘Madman’s Diary.’” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 27, no. 1. (Spring 2015): 75–104.

“Culture by Post: Correspondence Schools in Early Republican China.” In The Business of Culture: Cultural Entrepreneurs in China and Southeast Asia, 1900–1965, ed.Christopher Rea and Nicolai Volland (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2014), 92–117.

Fong Foo Sec and the Business of Teaching English.” China Heritage Quarterly 30/31 (Sept. 2012).

“No True Men in the State: Pseudo/translation and ‘Feminine’ Voice in the Late Qing.” Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese / Xiandai Zhongwen wenxue xuebao 現代中文文學學報 10, no. 2 (Dec. 2011): 125–148.

“Between English and Guoyu: The English Student, English Weekly, and the Commercial Press’s Correspondence Schools.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 23, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 100–145.

“Pingyun de shoulie lüxing: zaoqi Zhou Zuoren jiqi xingbiehua de ‘ganshi youguo’ jingshen” 萍雲的狩獵旅行:早期周作人及其性別化的感時憂國精神 (Duckweed Cloud’s safari: the early Zhou Zuoren and his gendered “obsession with China”). Trans. Zhu Yun 祝蕓. In Xiandai Zhongguo xiaoshuode shi yu xue: xiang Xia Zhiqing xiansheng zhijing 現代中國小説的史與學:向夏志清先生致敬 (The history and study of modern Chinese fiction: essays in honor of C. T. Hsia), ed. David Der-wei Wang (Taipei: Lianjing, 2010), 133–152.

“Guihua fanyide jiexian: yi Lin Shu Yisuo yuyan yiben wei li” 归化翻译的界限:以林纾《伊索寓言》译本為例 (The limits of domestication: a study of Lin Shu’s version of Aesop’s Fables). Dongya renwen 东亚人文 (Humanities East Asia), ed. Dong Bingyue 董炳月 (Beijing: Sanlian), 1 (2008): 283–302.

  • Reprinted in Wan Qing wenxue yanjiu duben 晚清文学研究读本 (A reader in scholarship on late-Qing literature), ed. Zhang Chuntian 张春田 (Guilin: Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe, 2016), 485–500.
  • Reprinted in Wenhua fanyi yu wenben mailuo: wan Ming yijiangde Zhongguo, Riben yu Xifang 文化翻譯與文本脈絡:晚明以降的中國、日本與西方 (Cultural translation in context: China, Japan, and the West since the late Ming), ed. Peng Hsiao-yen 彭小妍 (Taipei: Academia Sinica Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, 2013), 313–336.

“National Classicism: Lin Shu as Textbook Writer and Anthologist, 1908–1924.” Twentieth-Century China 33, no. 3 (November 2007): 27–52.

Shorter Translations

The Women’s Bell (Nüjie zhong 女界鐘, 1903), by Jin Tianhe 金天翮. A full scholarly translation of the first major tract on women’s rights in modern China. In The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory, ed. Lydia H. Liu, Dorothy Ko, and Rebecca Karl (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 204–286.

“‘When I Turn to Ashes, You Will See Me Smile’—Lu Xun and Tombstones,” by Wang Hui. In A New Literary History of Modern China, ed. David Der-wei Wang et. al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 306–311.

“In Lithographic Journals, Text and Image Flourish on the Same Page: the Dianshizhai Pictorial is Published,” by Chen Pingyuan and Xia Xiaohong. In A New Literary History of Modern China, ed. David Der-wei Wang et. al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017), 125–133.

“She is a True Student of China: On Reading Zhang Ailing on Reading,” and “Should the Ban on May Fourth and 1930s Writings Be Lifted?,” both by Zhu Xining. In The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan, ed. Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang et. al. (New York, Columbia Univeristy Press, 2014), 254–258.

“A Grapevine” and “Inheritance,” poems by Ye Hui 叶辉. In Push Open The Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, ed. Qingping Wang, Sylvia Li-Chun Lin, and Howard Goldblatt (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2011), 156–159.

“Revolutionary Narrative in the Seventeen Years Period,” by Guo Bingru (Sun Yat-Sen University). In Words and Their Stories: Essays on Revolutionary Discourse in China, ed. Ban Wang (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 305–318.

“Concepts of Women’s Rights in Modern China,” by Mizuyo Sudo (University of Tokyo). Gender and History 18, no. 3 (November 2006): 472–489.

  • Reprinted in Translating Feminisms in China, ed. Dorothy Ko and Wang Zheng (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007): 13–34.

Reviews and Short Pieces

Review of Rivi Handler-Spitz, Sypmtoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017). Comparative Literature Studies 56, no. 4 (2019): 857–861.

Writing Across the Pacific,” review of Richard Jean So, Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016). Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel.

Review of Shengqing Wu, Modern Archaics: Continuity and Innovation in the Chinese Lyric Tradition, 1900–1937 (Cambridge: Harvard Univeristy Asia Center, 2014). Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 75, no. 1 (2015): 245–252.

Review of Chinese Fiction Writers, 1900–1949, Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 328, ed. Thomas Moran(Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007), and Chinese Fiction Writers, 1950–2000, Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 370, ed. Thomas Moran and Ye Dianna Xu (Detroit: Gale, 2013). Modern Chinese Literature and Culture Resource Center, May 2015.

Review of Perry Link, An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013). Chinese Literature Today 4, no. 1 (2014): 144–145.

Op-Ed contribution for “The Debate over Confucius Institutes.” ChinaFile, July 1, 2014.

Review of Gloria Davies, Lu Xun’s Revolution: Writing in a Time of Violence (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013). Review of Politics 76, no. 2 (2014): 317–319.

Review of Qian Suoqiao, Liberal Cosmopolitan: Lin Yutang and Middling Chinese Modernity (Leiden: Brill, 2011). Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40, no. 1 (2013): 212–215.

Review of Shen Fu, Six Records of a Life Adrift, translated by Graham Sanders (Boston: Hackett, 2011). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 75, no. 3 (2012): 620–621.

“The Modern Documents Room at the Shanghai Library.” In “Chinese History Dissertation Reviews,” ed. Thomas S. Mullaney and Gina Russo. Jan. 17, 2012.

Review of Elisabeth Kaske, The Politics of Language in Chinese Education, 1895–1919 (Leiden: Brill, 2008). Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 70, no. 2 (2010): 516–524.