My dissertation investigates four works of three modern Chinese women writers and writings in the early twentieth century; namely, Bing Xin's Fanxing and Chunshui, Lu Yin's "Haibing guren" (Old Friends by the Sea), and Ling Shuhua's Ancient Melodies. My thesis argues that the writings of modern Chinese women writers have features characteristic of translation. That is, they are characterized by features of translation. These features refer not necessarily to translation in the conventional sense, but rather to forms of imitation, appropriation, transcription, transformation, transference, and transmission in a more metaphorical meaning of translation. Writing represents a reciprocal communication between modern Chinese women and the world.
Scholarship in modern Chinese literature has concentrated on the autonomy and subjectivity of the women writers, the autobiographical writing characteristics, and their shared subject matter of personal issues, such as maternal love and romantic love. However, not many researchers have made the direct connection of the Chinese women writers with the outside world, especially the West, as the focus of their research. With the perspective of translation, my project contributes to this area with the highlight of modern Chinese women writers' literary and political interactions with Chinese tradition, contemporary modern program, and the foreign, especially Western, countries.
Writing plays the role of translating to modern Chinese women writers in that they absorbed influences from both inside and outside China and from Chinese tradition and modernity, transferred modern ideas, and transcribed themselves and their lives as modern women through writing. In this sense, their roles as writers and translators are blended. The role of translator helped them effectively assimilate and transmit various sources of influences into their lives and writing. The role of writer allowed them to critique their origins and displayed their creativity together with their own voices, identities, and power in their writings. Specifically, through writing as translating, Bing Xin introduced a modern-styled Chinese poetic writing, Lu Yin revealed the fracture between modern discourse and women's reality, and Ling Shuhua imported Chinese culture to Britain. The result is that these modern women writers helped found Chinese modern literature and culture and promoted intercultural exchanges between China and the West.