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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Online webinar
Event date: 
Wednesday, 14 October, 2020 - 17:00 to 18:30
Event organiser: 

China Research Seminar given by Prof. David Midgley, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages and Linguistcs, University of Cambridge

Registration for this event

Alfred Döblin’s first major literary success, his “Chinese novel” The Three Leaps of Wang Lun (German title: Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lun), was written shortly before the First World War and published in 1916. The title figure is based on the historical leader of a popular revolt in 18th-century China, and the work draws on a wide range of publications about the history, culture, folklore and religions of China, as well as on the highly regarded German translations of the Chinese philosophical classics by Richard Wilhelm. In my presentation I shall briefly introduce the author and the work, illustrate the uses Döblin made of particular sources in writing the novel, and invite discussion of the purposes he is pursuing by adopting a specifically Chinese theme and setting for the work.

David Midgley is Professor emeritus of German Literature and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. His major publications include Arnold Zweig: Zu Werk und Wandlung 1927-1948 (Frankfurt am Main 1980) and Writing Weimar: Critical Realism in German Literature, 1918-1933 (Oxford 2000). He recently produced a new edition of Alfred Döblin’s Indian epic Manas (Frankfurt am Main 2016; first published in 1927), has written extensively on the use of ethnographic sources in Döblin’s South American novel Amazonas (1937-38), and is currently preparing a book in English that will serve as a guide to all the major fiction of Alfred Döblin.

Professor Adam Yuet Chau: