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Date 2021-03-17


The Phenomena and Strategies of the Rewriting of Novels Published in Newspapers and Magazines in Taiwan under Japanese Rule


Hsu, Chun-Ya

Professor, The Department of Chinese, National Taiwan Normal University


This essay focuses on the phenomena of the rewriting of novels published in newspapers and magazines in Taiwan under Japanese rule, as well as the strategies of narration adopted in the process of rewriting. Among those original texts to be rewritten, many are note novels written in classical Chinese, news of the society and translated foreign novels. The strategies of narration can be classified into the following categories: substitution of the spatio-temporal background, translation from classical Chinese into vernacular Chinese or vice versa, transformation into another literary genre and misrepresentation of news (which are factual) as novels (which are fictional).

As a result, in practice, the title of a text may be replaced; the words and sentences may be deleted or supplemented by extra ones; the order of paragraphs may be reversed; the grammatical person may be changed; the sequence of serialization may be altered; and different texts may be combined and intertwined with one another. With regard to the transformation of the literary genre in which the original text was composed, in particular, a novel may be transformed into an essay, a poem into a novel and so forth. The wide variety of different ways of transformation is miraculous, some of which might not have been seen in literature.

Depending upon the editors’ varying conception of literature, aesthetic preferences and practical concerns, the rewritten texts not only preserve the gist of the original ones, but also make explicit the underlying idea of karma, implied Confucianist thoughts or the influences of the pursuit of commercial success.

Besides, the editors may at times add further notes to the end of a text, responding to the policy promoted by the Japanese government or his or her subjective assessment of the text. The content of these additions also varies dramatically, some of which tend to mislead some other scholars working in this field to misidentify the author of an original text as a Taiwanese, as opposed to a Chinese.

Therefore, this article puts great emphasis on the meticulous examination of different versions of a text and the tracking of the original one. It is strongly hoped that this contribution can help other researchers avoid committing further grave mistakes and making arbitrary interpretations of these texts that are, I am afraid, outright fallacious and wrong.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature