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Renowned scholar shares insights on transmission of biography writing between different countries at HKBU lecture

04 Dec 2017

Professor Ellen Widmer discusses Sarah K Bolton’s books and their translated versions.
Professor Ellen Widmer discusses Sarah K Bolton’s books and their translated versions.
The public lecture attracts scholars, students and members of the public
The public lecture attracts scholars, students and members of the public

The Department of History, Mr Simon Suen and Mrs Mary Suen Sino-Humanitas Institute (SHI) and Gender Studies Concentration invited renowned East Asian studies scholar Professor Ellen Widmer to host a public lecture on “‘Talent, Temperance and Translation’: Sarah K Bolton’s Lives of Girls Who Became Famous (1886) and Its Transmission to China via Japan” on 24 November.
 
Professor Ellen Widmer is Mayling Soong Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of East Asian Studies at Wellesley College, USA. In the lecture, she focused on four points: the way exemplary western women reached China; the four Japanese translations; the two Chinese translations which use different approach to translate the works of Sarah K Bolton; and the role of self-restraint. She also touched on the stories of six central western women, including Florence Nightingale.
 
Professor Widmer explained the English, Japanese, and Chinese phases of this evolution and drew conclusions on the differences and similarities.
 
Sarah K Bolton was a successful writer whose books were sold all over the world. Written to inspire young women in America, her book Lives of Girls Who Became Famous captured attention in Meiji period Japan and was subsequently translated into Japanese. Of the four known translations, two are particularly well known, namely Lessons from Famous Women of the World, Ancient and Modern, 1898, by Tokutomi Roka and American and European Girls Who Became Famous, 1906, by Nemoto Shô . These two were later translated into Chinese.