Conflicting memories of war interpreting

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


This chapter explores how the life of a little-investigated interpreter in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945) has been narrated and remembered in selected autobiographical writings. Specifically, it examines the conflicting memories of Xia Wenyun, an interpreter for the Japanese army during the War, that come to light in the memoirs of Li Zongren (1981) and of Xia Wenyun himself (1999; 2000). In his memoir, Li frames Xia as a hero who made great contributions to Chinese military operations against the Japanese forces with his secret role as a Chinese KMT intelligence agent in the Japanese camp. Xia is silent about this in his own memoir, but highlights instead his bitterness about being treated as traitor to China after the War. This study intends to shed light on the nature and extent of the differences in how Xia is remembered by Li and how he remembers his own experiences, while also considering the impetuses behind these conflicting modes of remembrance. These issues will be discussed under the rubric of narrative theory in order to better explicate how memory is constructed and circulated through narratives, focusing on the four narrative features of temporality, relationality, selective appropriation, and causal emplotment (Baker 2010a).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe routledge handbook of translation and memory
EditorsSharon Deane-Cox, Anneleen Spiessens
Place of PublicationLondon & New York
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003273417
ISBN (Print)9780815372158 (hbk), 9781032226200 (pbk)
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2022


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