眠れる獅子(睡獅)と梁啓超 [in Japanese] Liang Qichao and the "Sleeping Lion" [in Japanese]
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The "Sleeping LionAwakening Lion" image has figured prominently in the modern discourse on Chinese national identity since the beginning of the 20th century. In recent years, this image has attracted greater attention with the rise of China's international economic and strategic status. The origin and formulation of the "Sleeping Lion" image, however, remain unclear. This study aims to trace the birth of this image and explores the following new facts about it: the term "Sleeping Lion" (shuishi) was coined by Liang Qichao in 1898-1899; Liang used the term to explain the unknown image of Frankenstein's monster which was often used by many Westerners to express the potential menace of a sleeping China. The reason Liang offered such a strange interpretation was that he had read a translated article and commentary by Yan Fu in the Tianjin newspaper Guowen bao (National news), and then construed Frankenstein's monster as a lion-like robot. His unusual interpretation was apparently influenced by his knowledge of the views of Zeng Jize who in 1887 had published an article in English entitled "China, the Sleep and the Awakening". Although some historians have assumed that the "Sleeping Lion" image came from the West through Japan, I do not share this view. First, throughout the entire 19th century, China's image in the West was that of a "dragon", and no articles describing China as a "Sleeping Lion" can be found in any of the major newspapers such as the Times of London or the New York Times ; second, no Japanese newspapers before 1900 used such an expression in reference to China ; third, the Japanese media began to invoke the "Sleeping Lion" image only after the beginning of the 20th century when that image had already become widespread in the Chinese media. For all these reasons, it seems clear that the "Sleeping Lion" image derived from the innocent interpretation by Liang Qichao, which was shared by Chinese intellectuals particularly in the first decade of the 20th century and then circulated throughout the world later. In addition to the formulation of the "Sleeping Lion" image, this essay also tries to clarify the complicated development of the Frankenstein monster image in the late Qing and Republican periods. Translating Frankenstein into Chinese was so difficult at that time in China that some intellectuals, such as Liang Qichao, mistakenly identified Frankenstein's monster with a "Sleeping Lion". This is a good illustration of the complex cross-lingual and cross-cultural phenomenon that took place between two different civilizations at that time.
- Journal of Oriental studies
Journal of Oriental studies 85, 479-509, 2010-03