Kritik – Empirie – Theorie / Festschrift für Mechthild Leutner
Edited By Katja Levy
Marianne Bastid-Bruguière - Gabriel Devéria (1844–1899), Interpreter and Scholar of Chinese Frontiers
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Gabriel Devéria (1844–1899), Interpreter and Scholar of Chinese Frontiers
Abstract: Each major European power represented in Peking in the last third of the 19th century had some young interpreters who played the role of cultural broker beyond their sheer duties as official translator. Gabriel Devéria was the French earliest example in this troop of youngsters.
In her many-sided investigation of China’s modern culture and interaction with the world, Professor Mechthild Leutner has paid lately special attention to the first generation of young German interpreters who came as pioneers to China, behind more imposing figures from the diplomatic or political establishment that were appointed as minister, head of the Legation in Peking, and are recorded as main actors in official documents and government archives.1
These young men usually came from educated but impoverished middle-class families, and went to China for lack of better opportunity of earning a living and gaining official status at home. They struggled bitterly to learn the Chinese language and to make the best of an entirely new environment which would probably be the main scene of their life, if not their only chance for gaining some prestige and for making a career for themselves. Whatever their personal ambition and the prejudices which they carried over from their education and social background at home, or from the prevailing discourse on China among the foreign community in China, their very job put...
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