Translating China to the Atlantic West: Self, other, and Lin Yutang’s resistance

Yangyang Long*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines how the Chinese author and translator Lin Yutang challenged the misconstructions of China in the Atlantic West. From the perspective of the inhabitants of the Pacific Rim, the Atlantic is considered a symbol and metaphor for the union of the West (Europe and North America). Due to significant cultural and linguistic differences, China has frequently been misrepresented by Atlantic nations. Within this context, the leading translation theorist Lin Yutang conceived two key translation concepts, tongshun (通顺, fluency) and zhongshi (忠实, fidelity, faithfulness), as powerful weapons to fight against this trend of false recognition. This article analyzes Lin’s means of representing China by looking at (para)textual materials he produced. It explores how Lin combines tongshun and zhongshi to forge a space of zhongyong (中庸, central harmony), a space that reveals the unceasing efforts in mediating, through the translator’s balancing act, between his “Chinese Self” and “Atlantic-Western Other.” The space of zhongyong can be read as Lin’s creation that goes beyond the confines of strict “surrendering” and “withstanding.” Lin’s translation of China to the Atlantic nations therefore presents the possibility of transcending the limits of traditional representations, and offers a renewed understanding of the relationship between China and the Atlantic West.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-348
Number of pages17
JournalAtlantic Studies : Global Currents
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Confucianism
  • Lin Yutang
  • Taoism
  • misrepresentation
  • the geopolitical Atlantic
  • translation

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