The English translation of Yan Geling’s Jinling Shisan Chai includes several new additions that are suggestive of key differences between Chinese and Western conceptions of narrative and history. Whereas the Chinese original challenges monolithic interpretations of history with a self-consciously mythologized reading of the past, the international version seeks to counter revisionist histories and the cynicism of the assumed Western reader with additions that emphasize the materiality of the historical event. I argue that the additions highlight the impossibility of reconstituting material history through narrative and calls for a reassessment of the ethics of historical fiction.


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