Yan Fu's Unfaithful Translation of Thomas Huxley's 'Evolution and Ethics'

Main Article Content

Qi Yuhan


This paper analyses Yan Fu’s translation of the title and the key terms in Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics and shows that his unfaithfulness was mainly due to his personal intention to inspire the Chinese people to fight against foreign enemies and the feudal system in late nineteenth-century China. In his famous The Heavenly Theory of Evolution, the translation of Evolution and Ethics, Yan Fu added the traditional Chinese value of ‘heaven’ by translating ‘evolution’ as ‘heavenly evolution’ in order to make Darwin’s theory more acceptable and easier to understand by target readers. When he translated terms such as ‘competition’ and ‘natural selection’, Yan Fu borrowed the slogan of the Westernizing reform to explain the relationship linking evolution, competition and selection. Yan Fu wanted to arouse people’s attention to the theory of evolution and hoped they would use evolutionary thought as a theoretical weapon to save themselves and the country from a national crisis. His unfaithful translation appealed to the scholars to make them spread the theory through their social influence.

Article Details

How to Cite
Yuhan, Q. “Yan Fu’s Unfaithful Translation of Thomas Huxley’s ’Evolution and Ethics’”. Linguaculture, vol. 12, no. 2, Dec. 2021, pp. 163-74, doi:10.47743/lincu-2021-2-0206.
Translation and Language Studies
Author Biography

Qi Yuhan, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Qi YUHAN holds a BA in Translation (2016) and a MTI (2018) from East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL), Shanghai, China. From 2017 to 2019, she worked as a legal translator at Jones Day Law Firm (Shanghai office). She is a co-translator of the novel Mind Games and a PhD candidate in translation studies of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research interests include translation, narrative theory and nationalism. She is currently focusing on Yan Fu’s translation of Thomas Huxley and the narrative of Chinese nationalism