Walter scott's first Chinese critic - Mao Dun

Kang Yen Chiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Walter Scott's novels, including Ivanhoe, The Talisman, and The Betrothed, were first introduced to the Chinese through the translation of Lin Shu (1852-1924) in the early twentieth century. However, equally important, it was Mao Dun (1896-1981), a novelist and literary critic, who first systematically brought Scott's works to Chinese readers. In 'A Critical Biography of Walter Scott' (1924), Mao Dun not only conducted a critical study of Scott's life but also offered close analyses of a selection of twenty-five key Waverley Novels and poems. This critical essay was completed before most of the Chinese translations of the Waverley Novels were available to the Chinese, and they were products of the May Fourth Movement which called for the creation of a new Chinese culture based on Western standards. Mao Dun's work was not simply an attempt to satisfy a personal whim; it was a major project aiming to connect the Chinese to mainstream European literature. This article, an examination of Mao Dun's critical work on Scott, intends to answer questions, including: how was Scott, as a writer of historical fiction, introduced to his Chinese readers? And what was the influence of Scott on Mao Dun's own fictional writing? By answering these questions, this article hopes to clarify the ways in which Scott was brought to China. Furthermore, it will also show that Mao Dun's criticism of Scott has left Chinese readers with a partial and distorted view of a major world writer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-34
Number of pages16
JournalScottish Literary Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2020


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