Статья 'Общие вопросы изучения русской женской прозы в Китае' - журнал 'Litera' - NotaBene.ru
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Reflections on Chinese studies of Russian women's prose

Chai Li

ORCID: 0009-0000-3178-0415

Postgraduate student, Department of Russian Language and Literature, Far Eastern Federal University

690950, Russia, Primorsky Krai, Vladivostok, Ajax str., 10










Abstract: The active development of women's prose is an important phenomenon in world literature. After the 1980s, a large number of works by Russian writers were translated in China, which attracted more attention of Chinese Russian scholars. The subject of the research is the historical and cultural prerequisites for the study of Russian women's prose in China and the current state of research on this prose. The relevance of the article can be determined by the fact that with the rapid changes in the socio-cultural environment, the study of women's prose in China gradually demonstrates a systematic and interdisciplinary growing trend, thanks to which it is possible to take a fresh look at the study of Russian women's prose in China. Russian writers' main translated works and the main studies of Chinese scientists on Russian women's prose, published since 1942 to the present, are the material of the study. The research method is the analysis of review materials and generalization of philology researches opinions. The author's special contribution to the research of the topic is the answers received to questions about the context, development, current state and directions of studying Russian women's prose in China. Conclusions are drawn that 1992 is an important moment, before that Chinese scientists mainly paid attention to the translation of foreign women's literature, including Russian, after 1992, through a practical analysis of Western feminist theories in literary studies, Chinese researchers proposed the concept of "soft feminism", which influenced the development of women's prose in China, which led to attention to the inner world of a woman, her role not only in the family, but also in culture and history.


Russian women's prose, Chinese Russian studies, literary communication, literary process, translation, perception of literature, literary criticism, feminist theory, soft feminism, intercultural communication

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From the 1980s to the present, the breadth and depth of research on Chinese women's prose has been increasing, the results of research on the creativity of both Chinese and Russian writers are growing, which indicates that "women's literature has become a new star in the literary world that cannot be ignored" [21, p. 69]. The purpose of this work is to give a general idea of how the study of women's prose is developing in Chinese literary criticism and criticism. The theoretical basis of the work is complex approaches: the concept of dialogue, the provisions of receptive aesthetics and the historical and functional approach.

The emergence of translations and studies of women's prose in China as a historical context

The development of literature is closely connected with the course of history, the "May 4 Movement" became a turning point in the development of Chinese history, as well as in the development of Chinese culture and literature. At the beginning of the 20th century, the "Movement for a New Culture" in China advocated the exploration of the world and the knowledge of man himself. "Against the background of the advanced bourgeois thought of the West and the domestic propaganda of "democracy and science", as well as under the influence of a wave of opposition to feudal cultural authoritarianism based on "Three foundations and five unshakable rules" (The term "Three foundations and five unshakable rules" It was first proposed by Ma Rong during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Three pillars they relate to interpersonal relations between father and son, ruler and subject, husband and wife, and the “five unshakable rules they belong to the five unchangeable human beings: benevolence, righteousness, politeness, wisdom and faith – Ch.L.), in literary circles after the "May 4 Movement", the traditional model of Chinese literature, the center of which is a man, was affected" [16, p. 34], and "??" ("a woman of an advanced way of thinking") how the new lexeme became one of the key words in the "Movement for a New Culture", along with many Western words: "democracy", "science" and "individualism". The transformation of Chinese literature during this period occurred gradually due to the spread and reception of foreign literature, and historical changes and innovations in Chinese literature were inspired by Western literature. "After the May 4 Movement, translated works of foreign literature continued to increase, relevant research is gradually developing, and translations of works by foreign writers have also appeared" [2, p. 238].

In the Women's Magazine, volume 17, special number 7, "Woman and Literature", published on July 1, 1931, portraits of the poetess E.B. Browning, the Bronte sisters and W. Wolfe were printed. "Since the 1930s, foreign women's literature has been translated in large volumes" [7, p. 87]: the novel "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte was published in 1930, 1944 and 1945 by the Shanghai Publishing House Hua Tong (trans. Wu Guangjian), Chongqing Commercial Publishing House (trans. Liang Shiqiu) and the Chongqing Book Publishing House "Yi Gong" (trans. Low Sai), respectively; the novel "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte was published in 1932 in the Shanghai Commercial Publishing House (trans. Wu Guangjian) and in 1945 in the Chongqing publishing house "Culture and Life" (per. Li Jie). In 1935, Virginia Woolf's biographical novel "Flush" was published in the Shanghai Commercial Publishing House, translated by Shi Pu, in 1945 another novel by the writer - "To the Lighthouse" - was published in the Chongqing Commercial Publishing House, made by Xie Qingyao, and in 1948 a review of Xiao Qian's book "Madame Wolf" was published in Shanghai newspaper "Dagong Bao". In the process of modernization and transformation of the feudal ideology of China, which began with the "Movement for a New Culture" and the "May 4 Movement", the translation and introduction of works of foreign women's prose undoubtedly contributed to the spread and development of the concept of "women of a new era" in China, making the emancipation of women's consciousness and the formation of a new female image the main aspirations of women in this period.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when the Western feminist movement was in full swing, there was a Cultural Revolution in China, and the domestic political movement prevented the propaganda of Western ideas, leaving the whole society in a closed environment. After the end of this revolution, extreme closeness and suppression of thought led to the formation of an undercurrent in society that demanded liberation from the ideological fetters of prejudice, and with the weakening of the social environment, this current gave rise to a movement known as the "emancipation of thinking." "In May 1978, at the Third Enlarged meeting of the Third Committee of the VARLI (All-China Association of Workers of Literature and Art) announced the resumption of the activities of the VARLI, the Union of Chinese Writers and other literary societies, the newspaper "Literature and Art" and other newspapers began to print again" [14, p. 48]. Literature, which has been the basis of culture for a long time, shows a tendency of active development. Writers began to create freely and foreign works were translated on a large scale in response to the demands of the time. With the wave of ideological emancipation in the new era, the influx of Western literary theories and the gradual emergence of female writers, the theory of feminism began to enter the national consciousness of China.

The scholar Zhu Hong, who is engaged in British and American women's prose, in 1981 and 1983 created the "Anthology of American Writers" and the "Anthology of Stories of American Writers", she translated American feminist works, and in the preface to the book gave an initial idea of early Western feminist criticism [20]. In 1984, Wang Fengzhen translated Daniel Hoffman's book "Modern American Literature", in the eighth chapter of which a more focused discussion and promising development of American feminist literature aroused the interest of Chinese literary critics [3], which led to the appearance of a large number of translations and recommendations of Western feminist theoretical works in China. In 1986 San Zhuying and Nan Shan translated Simone de Beauvoir's book "The Second Sex", which for the first time presented feminist theory in a systematic form in China; in 1988 they published Betty Friedan's book "The Mystery of Femininity" (trans. Cheng Xilin) in the Sichuan People's Publishing House, which is a vivid feminist manifesto challenging traditional gender and social structures; in 1989, the books by V. Wulf "Own Room" (trans. Wang Huan) at the Sanlian Publishing House and Mary Eagleton "Feminist Literary Criticism" at the Hunan Literary Publishing House, translated by Hu Min, these two books introduced Western feminist theory, and their translations had a huge impact on the development of feminism in China. In 1992, Toril Moi's book Sexual Textual Politics: A Feminist Literary Theory was published, translated by Lin Jianfa and Zhao To, which was a relatively new achievement in the study of Western feminist theory at that time.

Until 1992, the research of Chinese scientists in the field of foreign women's prose was mainly embodied in the translation of the works of famous writers and feminist theoretical sources, and the content of the research was focused on two aspects: firstly, acquaintance with foreign women's literature and feminism, for example: "The Awakening of British Women's Prose" by Li Xiaojiang, "Latin American women's prose on the Rise" by Liu Xiaowen; secondly, the study of the impact of Western women's prose on the development and achievement of the same prose in China, and one of the representative studies is "The Emergence and evolution of Chinese women's prose under the influence of Western literature" by Wang Ting.

The Emergence and research of Women's Prose in China as a cultural context for the study of Russian women's Prose

The study of women's prose in China is based on its existence. The question of when women's prose appeared always remains unresolved. As for Chinese literature, the works of women have already appeared in its ancient literary sources, for example: "The Book of Songs written during the Zhou Dynasty contains many poems written by women, which not only reflects the creative level of women poets of the Eastern and Western Zhou period, but also sometimes reveals their creative ideas" [12, p. 151]. Another point of view is that Chinese women's literature really originated only during the period of the "May 4 Movement" and that the concept of women's prose should "accept female subjectivity as its main connotation, and the discovery of the value of man and the subjectivity of women is the spiritual core of the writers of this period as the beginning of this prose. And the work of women writers from the end of the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China is a prologue to the long process of development of women's prose in China" [11, p. 4].

After the May 4 Movement, the translation of foreign women's prose and the presentation of works by foreign researchers on women in their countries prompted Chinese scientists to pay attention to the role of women in history, which put Chinese feminism on the path of forming a separate field of knowledge. Important examples of the fruit of this attempt are the series "Women's Theory", edited and published by the Northern Publishing House for Women and Children in 1987, and the series "Women's Studies", published by the Henan People's Publishing House in 1988. The purpose of these series was to systematize and specialize the subject using scientific methods, thereby laying a solid foundation for the discipline "Chinese Feminology".

After 80 years . Over the centuries, Chinese feminist studies have gradually moved beyond the translation of classical Western feminist theories and literature, combined with their own Chinese women's liberation thought and moved to the stage of critical reception. "The necessary theoretical analysis and development of Western feminist criticism from a practical point of view have been gradually carried out in Chinese literary studies" [22, p. 90]. In parallel with this, there has been a tendency to in-depth study of the relevant Western theories. For example, "Speaks through Nala: The Process of Reflection of Modern Chinese Women Writers" by Liu Xiqian and "The Literary World of Chinese Women" by Qiao Igan.

There is no Western feminist movement in China in the true sense of the word. With such a social background, "the development of Chinese women's literary studies actually went through the process of absorption, fusion, reflection and recreation of Western feminist criticism" [1, p. 235], and the widespread dissemination and adoption of "feminist" theories led to the emergence of local "feminism". In 1992, the collection "Modern Feminist Literary Criticism" by Zhang Jinyuan was published, which marked the transition of feminism from social criticism to a deeper cultural one. The researcher suggests using "soft feminism" in the book instead of "feminism" and sets out in detail the reasons for this replacement. She argues that "feminism" mainly emphasizes the struggle for equal rights of men and women in the early women's movement, while "soft feminism" is based on a cultural position, focuses on gender consciousness and cultural construction and is a form of "poststructuralism". According to her, the conceptual transition from "feminism" to "soft feminism" can be understood as the spread of "feminism" from the political to the socio-cultural sphere [19]. Researchers of Chinese women's literature believe that this transition has another meaning, which is that the latter tends to be more peaceful, non-categorical and non-aggressive in its expression, and in this aspect the opinion of the famous literary critic, Professor of Henan University Liu Xiqian is very indicative. In 1998, Liu Xiqian published an article "The Modernity of Chinese Women's Prose", which marked the adaptation of women's literature studies in China. The scientist gave a fundamentally new definition of women's prose from the standpoint of humanism and believed that "the ideological basis of female subjectivity is female humanism" [9, p. 96], and a woman, first of all, a person is the starting point of her thought. Literature is anthropology. Literary research should start with people and focus on them, and then she concludes: "Realism and humanism are two wings leading to the top of anthropology" [8, p. 219]. She believes that "modern Chinese feminist literary criticism has absorbed more ideas of Western female humanism, and therefore "soft feminism", emphasizing the cultural position of gender, is more suitable for denoting modern female literary criticism than "feminism", emphasizing the opposition of the sexes" [10, p. 16].

Evaluation of the creativity of Russian writers in Chinese Russian studies

As for the translated works of Russian women writers in China, the earliest translation before the formation of New China was the translation of "Flame in the Swamps" by V. Vasilevskaya, made in 1942, the translator of which is Su Qiao. Russian Russian women's prose translations have been increasing since the late 80s: in 1995, the Hebei Education Publishing House published the book "Moscow Woman", which included some works by famous Russian writers from the Silver Age to the 1990s, such as A.A. Akhmatova, M.I. Tsvetaeva, G.E. Nikolaeva, L.S. Petrushevskaya, T.N. Tolstaya and others. In the appendix to this collection, the compiler of the book has collected the main translations of Russian women's literature published in China in 1942-1992. Russian Russian women's prose The results of an extended search on the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure database (hereinafter referred to as CNKI), in which the source of literature is set as "periodicals (in any category)", and the topic of literature as "Russian women's prose", showed that the first article on Russian women's prose was a published in the journal "World Literature" in March of the same year as the publication of the book "Moscow Woman", entitled "Dynamics of World Literature", in which Juan initially answered the question "Is there women's prose in Russia?". She believes that the appearance of women's literature in Russia is an inevitable trend, and that "if women's literature as a separate literary type does not exist or does not yet exist in Russia, then the necessary explanations should be given" [15, p. 309].

In 1990, the publishing house "Xue Lin" published a collection of works "Cat on the Road" (per. Zheng Hailing), which included 8 stories by V. Tokareva; and in 1999, the publishing house "Kunlun" The company has published the book "Maria, Don't Cry", selected and edited by Wu Tselin, which includes works by L. Petrushevskaya, L. Ulitskaya, T. Tolstoy, O. Tchaikovsky and other famous Russian women prose writers.

In 1999, in the publishing house "Kunlun" Ulitskaya's work "Medea and her Children" (translated by Li Yingnan and Yin Cheng) was published. Chinese literary magazines also published the works of some Russian writers: in the magazine "World Literature and Art", for example, in the 2nd issue of 1997, L. Ulitskaya's story "Sonechka" was published. In 2003, the publishing house "Likiang" published L. Ulitskaya's novel "The Kukotsky Incident", which received the Russian Booker Prize in 2001, which made L. Ulitskaya the first female laureate of this award, in 2005 the Shanghai Translation Publishing House published Tolstoy's novel "Kys" (Chen Xiunming).

In 2017, in the publishing house "Narodnaya Literatura" the book "Zuleikha opens her eyes" has been publishedGuzel Yakhina (Zhang Jie and Xie Yuncai), who received the "Big Book" Award in Russia and the award "The Best foreign novels in 2001" in China, organized by the publishing house "Narodnaya Literaturaand the Chinese Society of Foreign Literature, and in 2018, the same publishing house published the novel-parable by L. Ulitskaya "Jacob's Ladder" (per. Ren Guangxuan, professor of Peking University). In 2019 at the Beijing Literary Publishing House "October" Another novel by Yakhina was published - "My Children" (translated by Chen Fan, professor of the Chinese People's University). In March and October 2021, Zhejiang Literary Publishing House published two works by L. Ulitskaya: "Girls" and "Merry Funeral", the translators of which are Lu Yan and Bao Fengxuyin, Zhang Huiyu and Xu Kai, respectively.

Russian Russian women's prose studies are expanding and deepening as the number of translations of Russian women's prose increases, they can be divided into three main areas: review articles devoted to the definition and formation of women's prose, interpretation and evaluation of texts by Russian writers; research from the point of view of feminist literary criticism - the section to which Chinese scientists pay the most attention in connection with development of reception and adaptation of feminism in China; interdisciplinary research (for example, study in the context of linguoculturology).

Russian Russian prose is currently the earliest generalizing study of Russian women's prose by Chinese Russian scholars is the work of Sun Meilin, who in the article "Photo Album of Russian Women's Prose" she compiled a "preliminary compendium of the emergence and development of women's literature in Russia" [13, p. 53], in combination with the social context, presented Russian women authors of different periods and the reflection of history through the fate of the individual in their works. Russian Russian Women's Prose, published in 2007, is the earliest monograph of this research area, in which the author outlines the literary theory of feminist criticism in the world, the process of the emergence and development of Russian women's prose and summarizes the current results of the study of Russian women's literature in the world [18]. In addition, the author shows the work of Russian writers, analyzes in general terms the themes, artistic images and stylistic features of the works of Russian writers. Russian Russian women's literature has articles devoted to the analysis of Russian women's literature from two points of view: macroanalysis (definition of prose, style, subject matter) and microanalysis (specific writers, their works), for example: the first ones include "Modern Russian Women's Prose: Academic Disputes and Aesthetic Contribution" by Gao Wei and Sun Chao, "Introduction to Modern Russian women's prose" Li Jun and Guang Yu, "The Truth about Women's Literature in Russia - a study of Russian women's Literature by Catriona Kelly, Professor of Slavic Studies at Oxford University" Lin Jinghua, "Does women's literature exist in Russia? - A conversation about the construction of the discourse of the subject of a woman in the book "Forty-first"" Zhang Peiyun. This is a preliminary analysis of the problems still being discussed in this area of the world literary process. Russian Russian women's literature is analyzed by Chinese scientists in terms of their creativity and literary value, for example, "Three Dimensions of the Work of Modern Russian Women Writers" by Chen Fan, "Subjectivization of Narratives in Modern Russian Women's Literature" and "Linguoculturology - a new look at Modern Russian Women's prose" by Liu Juan. There are also studies of specific works of this prose, such as "Family Centrism in the novel by L. Ulitskaya" by Chen Fan, ""Women's Prose" in Russian literature and the work of V. Tokareva" by Song Zhiqin, etc.

Chinese feminist criticism also draws attention to the study of this rapidly developing literary phenomenon. The methods of analysis are fundamental approaches that have been applied to the analysis of women's prose. Duan Lijun in the work "Resistance and Submission: a Feminist Interpretation of L. Petrushevskaya's Novels" takes Petrushevskaya's novels into the center of research and systematically analyzes feminism in women's literature from the standpoint of feminist criticism and narrative: gender in literature, the narrative specific features of the creative work of women writers, the construction of the discourse of women's literature, the intertextuality of works are reinterpreted [4]. This monograph practically covers all relevant areas of feminist criticism research. Representative studies are also: "The loss and acquisition of awareness of the subject of a woman - based on the novel by Guzel Yakhina "Zuleikha opens her eyes"" Hou Dan, "Narrative study "supergender" on the example of the novelZuleikha opens her eyesYao Hongyu, "The Narrative of women's bodies in the works of modern Russian writers" Chen Fan, "Interpretation of the tragedy of women in everyday life in the novels of modern Russian writers" Zeng Jia, "Feminist movements in modern Russia and women's narratives in literature" Zhang Jianhua, etc.

Chinese Russian scholars study women's literature in line with interdisciplinary research and claim that "the study of women's prose is naturally connected with such disciplines as sociology, anthropology, psychology, culture, etc." [17, p. 108]. Scientist Lin Shuming, in connection with sociology, believes that "women's prose and its research are always closely connected with the historical and social reality of women's existence, arises as a result of women's understanding of their historical existence and everyday life and serves the goals of social transformation" [6, p. 40]. Russian Russian women's literature is analyzed by some scholars from the perspective of linguoculturology, among them are Liu Juan's articles "Subjectivization of Narrative in Modern Russian women's Prose", "Linguoculturology - a new look at Modern Russian women's prose", Guo Jing's monographs "The Work of L. Ulitskaya in the context of Literary statistics" and Wan Yan "The Work of L. Petrushevskaya in the context of narratologies", named among the most productive in this series.

The 16th Symposium on Chinese Women's Prose, organized by the Women's Literature Committee of the Chinese Association for the Study of Modern Literature, was successfully held from June 23 to 25, 2023 in Shanghai. Guo Binzhu from Zhongshan University made a presentation "How do we talk about gender today?", in which she said that "most women writers define their work as focused on the common destiny of a person and the general situation, and are not limited to the impression of essentialism caused by the traditional identity of "women"" [5, p. 96]. Chen Jiaohua from Suzhou University of Science and Technology in her report "Intersubjective trend in women's prose at the beginning of the new century" noted that "women's literature at the beginning of the new period embodies a female subject that coexists in harmony with a variety of subjects such as men, society, history and nature, and returns to the position that that literature is the science of man" [5, p. 100]. This indicates that the horizon of Chinese women's prose research is gradually becoming wider and wider.

Our research allows us to give preliminary answers to the problematic questions that were voiced at the beginning of the article. The development of literature depends to the greatest extent on history, since the 1930s, after the "May 4 Movement" and the "Movement for New Literature", translations of the works of foreign writers have been rapidly increasing. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, due to the spread and adaptation of Western feminist theory, Chinese scientists began to consciously place feminist studies in a specific socio-cultural context, calling for equal dialogue and harmony between the sexes, leading to the conclusion that "soft feminism" has broad prospects and becomes more applicable to the study of women's prose in China. Russian Russian women's literature has been developing rapidly since the 1980s, and to this day the research of Russian women's prose in Chinese Russian studies has focused on three main areas: review articles; research from the point of view of feminist criticism; interdisciplinary research.


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The article "General issues of studying Russian women's prose in China", proposed for publication in the magazine "Litera", is undoubtedly relevant, due to the increasing economic and cultural ties between our countries, the increasing mutual dialogue of cultures. Women's prose has long been considered "frivolous", so the scientific study of the work of women writers was not given much importance. The purpose of this work is to give a general idea of how the study of women's prose is developing in Chinese literary criticism and criticism. It should be noted that there is a relatively small number of studies on this topic in Russian philology. The article is innovative, one of the first in Russian science devoted to the study of such issues. The article presents a research methodology, the choice of which is quite adequate to the goals and objectives of the work. The author turns, among other things, to various methods to confirm the hypothesis put forward. Thus, the theoretical basis of the work is complex approaches: the concept of dialogue, the provisions of receptive aesthetics and the historical and functional approach. Russian Russian literature The author concludes that in China since the 1980s, the translation and study of Russian women's literature has been developing rapidly, and to this day the research of Russian women's prose in Chinese Russian studies is focused on three main areas: review articles; research from the point of view of feminist criticism; interdisciplinary research. Unfortunately, the author does not specify the volume of the research body, as well as the methodology of its formation. Theoretical fabrications are insufficiently illustrated by language examples, and convincing data obtained by statistical methods or corpus analysis are not presented. This work was done professionally, in compliance with the basic canons of scientific research. The research was carried out in line with modern scientific approaches, the work consists of an introduction containing the formulation of the problem, the main part, traditionally starting with a review of theoretical sources and scientific directions, a research and a final one, which presents the conclusions obtained by the author. It should be noted that the conclusion requires strengthening, it does not fully reflect the tasks set by the author and does not contain prospects for further research in line with the stated issues. The bibliography of the article includes 22 sources, among which works are presented exclusively in Chinese. Unfortunately, the article does not contain references to the fundamental works of Russian researchers, such as monographs, PhD and doctoral dissertations. The comments made are not significant and do not detract from the overall positive impression of the reviewed work. Typos, spelling and syntactic errors, inaccuracies in the text of the work were not found. In general, it should be noted that the article is written in a simple, understandable language for the reader. The work is innovative, representing the author's vision of solving the issue under consideration and may have a logical continuation in further research. The practical significance of the research lies in the possibility of using its results in the teaching of university courses on literary theory, the study of the history of Chinese literature, as well as courses on interdisciplinary research on the relationship between language and society. The article will undoubtedly be useful to a wide range of people, philologists, undergraduates and graduate students of specialized universities. The article "General issues of studying Russian women's prose in China" can be recommended for publication in a scientific journal.
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