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'胡适 建設的文明革命論 一 translation: Discussion of Creating a Revolution in Literature, by Hu Shi Pt 1'

This is a translation of the first part of the article 建設的文明革命論 (‘Discussion of Creating a Revolution in Literature’) by the Chinese writer 胡适 (Hú Shì) . Please post any issues or questions in the comments at the end of the page. As usual, the translation here is more of an annotation than a conversion into authentic English.

Part 1 · Part 2 →

我的《文學改良芻議》發表以來,已有一年多了。 It's been more than a year since my article _'Tentative Suggestions for Literary Reform'_ was published.

這十幾個月之中,這個問題引起了許多很有價值的討論,居然受了許多很可使人樂觀的響應。 In these ten or so months, this issue has created a lot of valuable discussion, and some of it, indeed, even makes one respond with optimism.

我想我們提倡文學革命的人,固然不能不從破壞一方面下手。 I think that those of us who advocate a revolution in literature must admit that it can only begin with some destruction.

但是我們仔細看來,現在的舊派文學實在不值得一駁。 But we approach tentatively, whilst the current old school of literature is not even worth refuting.

甚麼桐城派的古文哪,文選派的文學哪,江西派的詩哪,夢窗派的詞哪,聊齋誌異派的小說哪,──都沒有破壞的價值。 What classic is there from the Tongcheng School, literature from the Wenxuan School, verse from the Jiangxi School, lyrics from the Mengchuang School, fiction from the Liaozhai Zhiyi School - none of them are as valuable as destruction.

他們所以還能存在國中,正因為現在還沒有一種真有價值,真有生氣,真可算作文學的新文學起來代他們的位置。 The reason they still exist in this country is because there still isn't a new kind of literature that truly has value, truly has vitality and that can truly be considered literature and that can come and take their place.

有了這種「真文學」和「活文學」 ,那些「假文學」 和「死文學」 ,自然會消滅了。 When he have this kind of 'Real Literature' and 'Living Literature', the 'False Literature' and 'Dead Literature' will naturally perish.

所以我望我們提倡文學革命的人,對於那些腐敗文學,個個都該存一個「彼可取而代也」的心理,個個都該從建設一方面用力,要在三五十年內替中國創造出一派新中國的活文學。 So I look to those of us who advocate a revolution in literature, regarding that corrupt literature, to all have a mentality of "it can be replaced", and should all exert themselves towards construction, within thirty to fifty years establishing a new, living Chinese literature.

我現在做這篇文章的宗旨,在於貢獻我對於建設新文學的意見。 Now I will state the objective of this essay, which is to contribute my ideas for the construction of a new literature.

我且先把我從前所主張破壞的八事引來做參考的數據: I will first refer to the 'eight items to be destroyed' that I previously advocated:

一,不做「言之無物」的文字。 1. Do not use empty language.

二,不做「無病呻吟」的文字。 2. Do not write sentimental nonsense.

三,不用典。 3. Do not use clichés or hackneyed phrases.

四,不用套語爛調。 4. Do not use set phrases and worn-out arguments.

五,不重對偶:──文須廢駢,詩須廢律。 5. Do not value parallelisms: "Literature must abandon parallels, verse must abandon rules."

六,不做不合文法的文字。 6. Do not use incongruous style and grammar in your writing.

七,不摹仿古人。 7. Do not imitate the ancients.

八,不避俗話俗字。 8. Do not avoid common sayings and popular words.

這是我的「八不主義」 ,是單從消極的,破壞的一方面著想的。 These are my "Eight Don'ts", and they are purely negative, coming from a destructive point of view.

自從去年歸國以後,我在各處演說文學革命,便把這「八不主義」都改作了肯定的口氣, 又總括作四條,如下: After returning to China last year, everywhere I've been to deliver speeches on literary revolution, I have converted these "Eight Don'ts" to have a positive tone, and summarised them into four items as follows:

一,要有話說,方才說話。這是「不做言之無物的文字」一條的變相。 1. Only speak if you have something to say. This is a conversion of "do not use empty language".

二,有甚麼話,說甚麼話;話怎麼說,就怎麼說。這是二、三、四、五、六諸條的變相。 2. If you have something to say, then say it. Say it in whatever way it needs to be said. This is a conversion of #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6.

三,要說我自己的話,別說別人的話。這是「不摹仿古人」一條的變相。 3. Use your own words, don't use the words of others. This is a conversion of "do not imitate the ancients".

四,是甚麼時代的人,說甚麼時代的話。這是「不避俗話俗字」的變相。 這是一半消極, 一半積極的主張。 4. Use the language of the times. This is a conversion of "do not avoid common sayings and popular words". This is a half-negative and half-positive point.

一筆表過,且說正文。 Now that we've expressed that in a few pen strokes, let's move on to the main text.

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