This is a translation of the second 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.
我的「建設新文學論」的唯一宗旨只有十個大字：「國語的文學，文學的國語」。 The sole objective of my _'Discussion of Creating a New Literature'_ can be expressed in ten characters: "A literature of the national language, a national language of the literature".
我們所提倡的文學革命，只是要替中國創造一種國語的文學。 The revolution in literature that we're promoting only requires that we, for China, create a literature in the national language.
有了國語的文學，方才可有文學的國語。 Only when we have a literature in the national language can we have a national language based on literature.
有了文學的國語，我們的國語才可算得真正國語。 Only once we have a national language based on literature can our national language be considered a true national language.
國語沒有文學，便沒有生命，便沒有價值，便不能成立，便不能發達。 If the national language does not have literature, then it does not have life, it does not have value, it cannot be established and it cannot be developed.
這是我這一篇文字的大旨。 This is the main point of this piece of writing.
我曾仔細研究：中國這二千年何以沒有真有價值真有生命的「文言的文學」？ I have researched in detail: why in its two thousand years has China never had a "classical literature" that truly has value and truly has life?
我自己回答道：「這都因為這二千年的文人所做的文學都是死的，都是用己經邛了的語言文字做的。 I reply to the question myself: "It's because the literature made by literati across these two thousand years is all dead, it all uses language and words that have already been buried.
死文字決不能產出活文學。 Dead writing absolutely can not produced living literature.
所以中國這二千年只有些死文學，只有些沒有價值的死文學。」 So in these two thousand years of China there has only been dead literature; there has only been dead literature without value."
我們為什麼愛讀《木蘭辭》和《孔雀東南飛》呢？ Why do we love to read _'Mu Lan'_ and _'The Peacock Flies Southeast'_?
因為這兩首詩是用白話做的。 Because these two poems are written in the vernacular.
為甚麼愛讀陶淵明的詩和李後主的詞呢？ Why do we love to read Tao Yuanming's poems and Li Houzhu's lyrics?
因為他們的詩詞是用白話做的。 Because they're written in the vernacular.
為甚麼愛杜甫的《石壕吏》、《兵車行》諸詩呢？ Why do we love Du Fu's _'The Official of Stone Moat Village'_ and _'Ballad of the Army Carts'_?
因為他們都是用白話做的。 Because they're both written in the vernacular.
為甚麼不愛韓愈的《南山》呢？ We don't we love Han Yu's _'Southern Mountain'_?
因為他用的是死字死話。 Because he wrote it with dead words and dead language.
……簡單說來，自從《三百篇》到於今，中國的文學凡是有一些價值有一些兒生命的，都是白話的，或是近於白話的。 To put it simply, from the _Book of Songs_ up to the present day, all Chinese literature that has some value and has some life has all been written in the vernacular, or something close to the vernacular.
其餘的都是沒有生氣的古董，都是博物院的陳列品！ The rest are all lifeless antiques, exhibits in a museum!
再看近世的文學：何以《水滸傳》、《西遊記》、《儒林外史》、《紅樓夢》，可以稱為「活文學」呢？ Let's take another look at recent literature: why can _'Water Margin'_, _'Journey to the West'_, _'The Scholars'_ and _'Dream of the Red Chamber'_ all be called "living literature"?
因為他們都是用一種活文字做的。 Because they're all written with living words.
若是施耐庵、邱長春、吳敬梓、曹雪芹，都用了文言做書，他們的小說一定不會有這樣生命，一定不會有這樣價值。 If Shi Nai'an, Qiu Changchun, Wu Jingzi and Cao Xueqin had all written their books in the classical language, their literature would certainly not be alive like it is; it would not have the value that it does.
讀者不要誤會，我並不曾說凡是用白話做的書都是有價值有生命的。 The reader must not misunderstand me - I have certainly never said that each and every book in the vernacular has value and life.
我說的是，用死了的文言決不能做出有生命有價值的文學來。 What I'm saying is that using dead classical language absolutely cannot produce living, valuable literature.
這一千多年的文學，凡是有真正文學價值的，沒有一種不帶有白話的性質，沒有一種不靠這個「白話性質」的幫助。 This literature of over a thousand years - of all the real literature that has value, there is none that does not have some vernacular characteristic to it, none that does not rely the help of this "vernacular characteristic".
換言之，白話能產出有價值的文學，也能產出沒有價值的文學；可以產出《儒林外史》，也可以產出《肉蒲團》。 In other words, the vernacular can produce literature that has value, but can also produce literature that has no value; it can produce _'The Scholars'_, but it can also produce _'The Carnal Prayer Mat'_.
但是那已死的文言只能產出沒有價值沒有生命的文學，決不能產出有價值有生命的文學；只能做幾篇《擬韓退之〈原道〉》或《擬陸士衡〈擬古〉》，決不能做出一部《儒林外史》。 But that classical language that is already dead can only produce literature without value and without life; it absolutely cannot produce literature with value or life; it can only make a _'Imitation of Han Yu's The Way'_ or a _'Imitation of Lu Shiheng's Opus'_ [?], and absolutely cannot make a _'The Scholars'_.
若有人不信這話，可先讀明朝古文大家宋濂的《王冕傳》，再讀《儒林外史》第一回的《王冕傳》，便可知道死 文學和活文學的分別了。 If there are some who do not believe this, they should first read the Ming dynasty classic by the Great Master Song Lian: _'Wang Mian Annotation'_, and then read the _'Wang Mian Annotation'_ in the first chapter of _'The Scholars'_; then they will know the difference between dead literature and living literature.
為甚麼死文字不能產生活文學呢？ Why can't dead words produce living literature?
這都由於文學的性質。 It's all because of the nature of literature.
一切語言文字的作用在於達意表情；達意達得妙，表情表得好， 便是文學。 The purpose of all language is to convey one's ideas and feelings; if they are conveyed well, expressed well, then it is literature.
那些用死文言的人，有了意思，卻須把這意思翻成幾千年前的典故；有了感情，卻須把這感情譯為幾千年前的文言。 Those who use the dead classical language - if they have ideas, they must translate these ideas into classical allusions from a thousand years ago; if they have feelings, they must translate them into a classical language from a thousand years ago.
明明是客子思家，他們須說「王粲登樓」、「仲宣作賦」；明明是送別，他們卻須說「陽關三迭」、「一曲渭城」；明明是賀陳寶琛七十歲生日，他們卻須說是賀伊尹、周公、傅說。 Without question, thinkers from elsewhere must speak of _'Wang Can Deng Lou'_ and _'Zhong Xuan Zuo Fu'_; without question, those parting must speak of _'Yangguan San Song'_ and _'Yi Qu Weicheng'_; without question, those celebrating the 70th birthday of Chen Baochen must speak of Yi Yin, the Duke of Zhou and of myths.
更可笑的，明明是鄉下老太婆說話，他們卻要叫他打起唐宋八家的古文腔兒；明明是極下流的妓女說話，他們卻要他打起胡天游、洪亮吉的駢文調子…… It's laughable: without question, when old women in the countryside speak, they must call out a tune from one of the Eight Masters of Song and Tang; without question, when the coarsest of prostitutes speak, they must speak of the travels of Zoroaster and the cadences of Hong Liangji's poetry...
請問這樣做文章如何能達意表情呢？ Can I ask: how can this kind of literature express feelings?
既不能達意，既不能表情，那裏還有文學呢？ If it cannot convey and it cannot express, then is it literature?
即如那《儒林外史》裏的王冕，是一個有感情、有血氣、能生動、能談笑的活人。 For example, the Wang Mian in _'The Scholars'_ is a living person with feelings and vitality that is vivid, that can speak and can laugh.
這都因為做書的人能用活言語活文字來描寫他的生活神情。 This is all because the writer of the book could use living language and living words to describe his living spirit.
那宋濂集子裏的王冕，便成了一個沒有生氣，不能動人的死人。 So the Wang Mian in the anthologies of Song Lian is a dead person without life and that cannot move.
因為宋濂用了二千年前的死文字來寫二千年後的活人；所以不能不把這個活人變作二千年前的木偶，才可合那古文家法。 Because Song Lian used dead words from two thousand years ago to describe someone that was alive two thousand years ago; so only by making a two-thousand-year puppet of this living person was he able to write according to that ancient style.
古文家法是合了，那王冕也真「作古」了！ If he suits that ancient style, then Wang Mian is truly "dead"!
因此我說，「死文言決不能產出活文學」。 Because of this I say: "The dead classical language cannot produce living literature."
中國若想有活文學，必須用白話，必須用國語，必須做國語的文學。 If China wants to have a living literature, it must use the vernacular, it must use the national language and it must write literature in the national language.