Su Manshu [original name Su Jian Ĭ] 1884-1918

A poet, painter and translator, Su was born in Yokohama to a Cantonese merchant and the sister of his Japanese concubine. The discrimination he suffered in his father's family was probably one of the causes of his bouts of despair when faced with adverse circumstances in later life. He returned to Japan in 1898 to study, and joined the student revolutionary circles there. These contacts led him to work in a Shanghai newspaper in which his translation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables was serialized. Despairing of the social and political situation, he sought solace in Buddhist monkhood more than once, but was also known for his indulgence in wine and women. Famous for his command of foreign languages and his literary talent, Su wrote in classical Chinese, as was the norm of the time. Besides fiction, he also translated poetry, including works by Byron. He published a number of stories dealing with disillusionment in the search for utopia, but his best-known work is the semi-autobiographical novel Duanhong lingyan ji _EsO [The lone swan] (1912) which was translated into English in 1924.

Works available in English:

  • The Lone Swan: The Autobiography of the Great Scholar and Monk, the Reverend Mandju (George Kin Leung). Shanghai: Commercial Press, 1924.

    Studies and biographies:

  • Liu, Wu-chi, Su Man-shu. New York: Twayne, 1972.
  • Henry McAleavy, Su-Manshu, a Sino-Japanese Genius. London: China Society, 1960.          close