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Between Money and Curiosity: On the Study and Translation of Chinese Literature in the Netherlands and Flanders

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Chapter Summary

Only in the nineteenth century, when the colonial rulers in the Dutch East Indies became involved in day-to-day local administration, did the need for Dutch experts in the Chinese language become clear. Consequently, a centre for the training of interpreters in Holland was established, eventually leading to the creation of a chair for Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Leiden in 1877. The early generations of Dutch sinologists published their academic contributions in German, English and French. As a result, the Dutch reading public had to rely for a long time on relay translations via those languages. In the field of classical poetry, these relay translations sometimes even passed through several hands: in the early twentieth century, Dutch poets often adapted the well-known German Nachdichtungen. These free adaptations have long determined to the expectations of the Dutch public regarding classical Chinese poetry.

Keywords: Chinese literature; Dutch East Indies; Dutch sinology; Nachdichtungen



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