A Frenchman's View of Chinese Opera
TOPIC: FRENCHMAN GEORGE SOULIE (1878-1955) was an interpreter of China to the west. He arrived in Beijing in 1901 to work as a translator for the Chinese Railway Association. Soulié returned to Paris a decade later but, as his publishing record shows, he retained a passion for China. Among the more curious of Soulié’s writings is his 1925 adaptation of Chen Sen’s novel, Pinhua baojian (1849). Chen’s novel provides an important window onto the malemale sex trade in the Qing capital. This talk traces the circuitous route by which the homoeroticism of the original was refracted through a sympathetic but Orientalist filter in Soulié’s remake and then was suppressed in a “sexual modernization” of China post-1900.