David Hawkes Archive

A joint project by the Department of Translation, Research Centre for Translation, and the University Library System, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In 1997, Research Centre for Translation acquired Professor David Hawkes’s original translation manuscript of The Story of the Stone, which covers chapter 2 to chapter 80 of the novel, totalling 2,210 pages. To make the manuscript available to scholars, translators and lovers of translation and Chinese literature worldwide, RCT worked with the University Library System to digitize the manuscript, which is now available for public access through the CUHK Chinese Literature Translation Archive, a major project undertaken jointly by RCT, the Department of Translation, and the University Library System.

I About David Hawkes
II Works by David Hawkes
III About The Story of the Stone Manuscript
IV View The Story of the Stone Manuscript

About David Hawkes

Professor David Hawkes (霍克思, 1923–2009), much celebrated for his scholarship and creative ingenuity, was a renowned British Sinologist, and most well regarded for his masterful translations of Chinese literature.

Hawkes’s training in Chinese started in his twenties, when he majored in Chinese at Oxford University (1945–1947). He later became a research student at the then National Peking University (1948–1951). He left China and returned to Oxford in 1951 where he completed his doctoral dissertation on The Songs of the South. He was appointed Professor of Chinese at Oxford in 1959. From 1973 to 1983, he was a Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and later became an Emeritus Fellow. In 1983, he donated his personal library, The David Hawkes Collection which comprises about 4,500 volumes with works in Chinese, Japanese and English, including Chinese language and literature, history, philosophy, religion and drama, to the National Library of Wales.

Hawkes translated the poetry anthology, The Songs of the South, while he was still a young man, and the work was published by Oxford University Press in 1959. The work was later revised by the translator himself for the Penguin Classics edition published in 1985. His A Little Primer of Tu Fu, first published in 1967 by Oxford University Press and later in 1990 by Renditions, the Research Centre for Translation, is an authoritative study and translation of the best-known works of the great Tang poet.

Among Hawkes’s many contributions to Chinese literary translation, the most significant is without a doubt The Story of the Stone, a work to which he fully devoted himself, even resigning from the post of Professor of Chinese in Oxford in 1971 to focus on the project. His work on The Story of the Stone not only demonstrates the highest standard of scholarship but also the highest standard for the art of translation, and will provide inspirations for generations of literary translators to ponder and reflect upon.

Works by David Hawkes


“The Problem of Date and Authorship in the Chu Tzu.” PhD diss., Oxford University, 1956.

Chinese: Classical, Modern, and Humane. Gloucester: Clarendon Press, 1961.
Classical, Modern, and Humane: Essays in Chinese Literature. Edited by John Minford and Siu-kit Wong. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1989.
The Story of the Stone: A Translator's Notebooks. Hong Kong: Lingnan University, Centre for Literature and Translation, 2000.
Letter from a Godless Grandfather. [Hong Kong]: David Hawkes, 2004.

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

Rev. of Tu Fu, China's Greatest Poet, by William Hung. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 3/4 (Oct. 1953): 163-164.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of The Evolution of a Chinese Novel: Shui-hu-chuan, by Richard Gregg Irwin. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1/2 (Apr. 1955): 78.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Han Shih Wai Chuan, by James Robert Hightower. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 3/4 (Oct. 1953): 165.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“Hsi-P’ei-lan.” Asia Major: A British Journal of Far Eastern Studies 7 (1959): 113-121.

Rev. of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, by Liu Hsieh and Vincent Yu-chung Shih. The Journal of Asian Studies 19.3 (May 1960): 331-332.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Chinese Literature: A Historical Introduction, by Ch`ên Shou-yi. Journal of Asian Studies 21.3 (May 1962): 387-389.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T’ang poet Han-shan, by Burton Watson and Han-shan. Journal of the American Oriental Society 82.4 (Oct. – Dec. 1962): 596-599.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Confucian Personalities, by Arthur F. Wright and Denis Twitchett. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 24 (1962-1963): 270-274.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of The Art of Chinese Poetry, by James J.Y. Liu. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 26.3 (1963): 672-673.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Tz’ǔ-tsi k’ao: Examination of Documents Relating to tz’ǔ. Part 1. Collected Works of Separate Authors from T’ang to Yüan, by Jao Tsung-I. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 28.3 (1965): 656-657.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Intrigues: Studies of the Chan-kuo Ts’e, by J. I. Crump, Jr. Journal of the American Oriental Society 86.1 (Jan. – Mar. 1966): 62-63.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“The Quest of the Goddess.” Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan 12 (1967): 55-57.

“Reflections on Some Yuan Tsa-Chu.” Asia Major: A British Journal of Far Eastern Studies 16.1-2 (1971): 69-81.

Rev. of A Further Collection of Chinese Lyrics and Other Poems, by Alan Ayling and Duncan Mackintosh. Journal of the American Oriental Society 93.4 (Oct. – Dec. 1973): 635-636.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“Le Hong Leou Mong, Roman Symbolist.” Mélanges de Sinologie offerts a Monsieur Paul Demieville. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974. 43-54.

“The Quest of the Goddess.” Studies in Chinese Literary Genres. Ed. Cyril Birch. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1974. 42-68.

“The Singing Plays of China.” Rev. of The Golden Age of Chinese Drama, by Chung-wen Shih; A History of Chinese Drama, by William Dolby. Times Literary Supplement 3 June 1977: 673.

Rev. of Dictionary of Oriental Literature, ed. Jaroslav Prusek. China Quarterly 75 (1978): 674-676.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“Submerged in Shantung.” Rev. of The Death of Woman Wang, by Jonathan D. Spence. Times Literary Supplement [London, England] 20 October 1978: 1191.

Rev. of Pacing the Void: T'ang Approaches to the Stars, by Edward H. Schafer. Pacific Affairs 51.4 (1979): 651-652.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“The Translator, the Mirror and the Dream: Problems in Translating the ‘Hong Lou Meng’ of Cao, Xueqin -- Some Observations on a New Theory.” Renditions 13 (Spring 1980): 5-20.

“Smiling at Grief.” Rev. of Fortress Besieged, by Ch’ien Chung-shu. Times Literary Supplement [London, England] 27 June 1980: 725.

“Quanzhen Plays and Quanzhen Masters.” Bulletin de l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient 69 (1981): 153-170.

“The Decline of Dynasty.” Rev. of K’ung Shang-jen: The Peach Bloosom Fan, trans. Ch’en Shih-hsiang and Harold Acton. Times Literary Supplement 15 May 1981: 531-532.

Rev. of A Madman of Ch’u: The Chinese Myth of Loyalty and Dissent, by Laurence A. Schneider. Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) 4.2 (July 1982): 245-247.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“The Heirs of Gao-yang.” T’oung Pao, Second Series 69.1-3 (1983): 1-21.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

Rev. of Lyric Poets of the Southern T’ang. Feng Yen-ssu, 903-960, and Li Yu, 937-978, by Daniel Bryant. Pacific Affairs 56.3 (Aug. 1983): 539-540.

Rev. of Aux origines de la poésie classique en Chine, Étude sur la poésie lyrique à l'époque des Han, by Jean-Pierre. T’oung Pao, Second Series 55.1/3 (1969): 151-157.
(Preview Link for non-CUHK users)

“The Story of the Stone: A Symbolist Novel.” Renditions 25 (Spring 1986): 6-17.

“Ch’u tz’u.” Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide. Ed. Michael Loewe. Berkeley, CA: Society for the Study of Early China, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1993 (Early China special monograph series, no.2). 48-55.


About The Story of the Stone Manuscript

Among the existing translations of The Story of the Stone, the uniqueness of Professor Hawkes’s version may lie in his “one abiding principle”: “to translate everything—even puns”. This principle, as mentioned in the introduction of The Story of Stone, came from the belief that every element in the story is there to serve a purpose and must be dealt with and retained. Throughout the translation, we could see how he strived to preserve all symbols and word-plays in the original work to present to his English readers. Although he himself humbly confessed to have been unable to retain all subtleties, many critics consider his version of The Stone as one of the first truly successful English rendering of traditional Chinese fiction, scholarly and readable, while retaining the poetic and artistic aspects of the original text.

As the most important achievement of Professor Hawkes, The Stone has been a superb example of literary translation, and has set new, higher standards for Chinese literature in translation ever since its publication. Translation manuscripts often reveal the thoughts and emotions of the translator, and hence record the translator’s journey in tackling the challenges of translation. With all traces of editing easily distinguishable on Professor Hawkes’s manuscript of The Story of the Stone, scholars, students and literary lovers and translators can study when, how and why certain translation decisions were made, and witness first-hand how the great Chinese classic gradually came alive in another language.

It is our hope that through reading the manuscript, many will be inspired by Professor Hawkes’s passion in crafting the canonical masterpiece in English and join in the endeavour to share with the rest of the world some of the best works in Chinese literature.

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