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The Publishing of Translated Biography in Chinese by the Commercial Press(1903-1919): An Examination

Abstract: The Commercial Press published twenty-three translated biographies from 1903 to 1919, including four volumes of Biography Series and fourteen biographies of Western subjects in Books for Youth and the other five biographies. Biography Series set the examples of new heroes such as Napoleon, Nelson and adventurers to cultivate the new citizens who embodied boldness, the spirit of adventure and ambitions. Because of insufficient preparation, however, they were not republished any more. Books for Youth imitated Liang Qichao’s New Biography in adding exordium and criticism, adopting the strategy of abridged translating and rewriting, revealing the biographical subject’s exemplary and unexemplary deeds, establishing a new model for fostering new nationals featuring both the traditional virtue of endowment and Western intellectual, and realizing the integration of foreign ideology and Chinese cultural traditions successfully. So they were reprinted many times, which is nothing less than a miracle in the modern publication of translated biography. The other translated biographies included two biographies of Japanese reformers, the first autobiography of student studying abroad and the first critical biography of a modern philosopher. The latter two publications manifest his insight and pioneering vision and make great sense in leading the trend.

Keywords: The Commercial Press, Chinese translated biography, publication, innovating