Macquarie University
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The politics of translation: paratext narratives in the service of the hundred days reform in China in 1898

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posted on 2024-03-04, 03:38 authored by Xia Wang

This thesis investigates how Kang Youwei 康有為(1858-1927), a Confucian scholar and political figure, used the paratexts in three translations (A Study on Japan’s Meiji Restoration, The Reform of Peter The Great and The Partition of Poland ) to promote his reform ideas in the 19thcentury China. Paratexts such as prefaces, notes and afterwords are considered to have the function of shaping readers’ understanding by emphasizing certain information and shifting the focus of the texts. This is particularly true when readers are unfamiliar with the texts and need paratexts’ assistance. The interlingual and intralingua translations of Kang played an important role in the Reform in China in 1898 but the translated contents were unfamiliar to the 19th century Chinese. Thus, I posit that Kang used his paratexts strategically to ensure a better reception of his ideas in the 19th century China. The project uses thematic analysis to choose the extracts of paratexts and employs critical discourse analysis to analyze the chosen paratexts. This study argues that Kang used both epistemic legitimization to justify his knowledge and farsightedness and deontic legitimization to persuade Emperor Guangxu 光緒(1871-1908) to emulate Confucian sage kings, equating his own reform proposals with sage kings’ practices. The study also reveals that Kang employed various metaphors to clarify the necessity of a complete and decisive reform in China. His metaphors served to remove psychological barriers among the ruling class of the Qing government by changing the relationship between China and Japan. Such findings hope to provoke thinking about the dynamics between translations’ paratexts and political events that leads to further research on how paratexts serve specific political goals.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Literature review and theoretical framework -- 3. Historical context and key figures -- 4. Paratext analysis -- 5. Conclusion -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language, and Literature

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Shirley Chan

Additional Supervisor 1

Alexandra Kurmann


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






93 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 284000

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