Urbanisme’s First Chinese Translation and Its Afterlives
This thesis focuses on Lu Yu-Tsun’s 1936 translation of Le Corbusier’s The City of Tomorrow (from Frederick Etchells’s English translation), during a time when Chinese book translations of the architectural or urban planning genre were unheard of.
The bulk of the thesis is structured into four main chapters, each forming its own individual arc which inspects this cultural remnant from four distinct angles. The first chapter, “The First Translation,” asks why this book might have attracted translation at that particular moment in history. The second chapter, “Forensic Analysis,” looks for clues in the visual, material and textual elements, and asks how they have been remolded through the entire production process, and what new meanings have emerged from it.
The third chapter, “An Operative Theory,” analyzes the connection between the translation and the prevailing intellectual concerns during its era; and the last chapter, “The Forgotten Translator,” situates the translation within the biography of the translator. The case study is followed by an epilogue that traces the subsequent translations of Le Corbusier’s work, setting them against the on-going evolution of China’s architectural publishing and translation mechanism, as well as the changing intellectual environment from Maoist rule to the present day.