With the rapid rise of China’s economic power and an increasingly stronger Chinese presence on the global stage, the world is also recognizing a fundamental necessity to gain a better understanding of China’s literature, art, history and other facets of this ancient civilization. But the sad fact is that for the past hundred years or so, particularly since late Qing dynasty, that necessity had been greatly hampered by mistrust and even hostility between China and the western world for political, economic, diplomatic and cultural reasons. It was not until after 1980s when China launched its open-up and reform policy that Sino-western relations began to witness dramatic changes and dialogues rather than confrontations became the major channel for Sino-western communication. And as China emerges as an undeniably stronger force worldwide, more and more Chinese scholars and intellectuals are also feeling a strong sense of mission and urge to introduce to the general reading public in the west her time-honored history and culture which is otherwise available only to a limited number of sinologists or researchers. Under this scenario, Chinese Arts and Letters, or CAL, is born. CAL, under the co-sponsorship of the International Cultural Exchange Association of Jiangsu Province, the Provincial Writers Association, the Provincial Federation of Literary and Art Circles, Nanjing Normal University and Jiangsu Phoenix Publishing & Media Inc., is an all-English journal committed to introducing to the western readership the outstanding achievements in Chinese arts and letters, spreading and publicizing the quintessential humanistic spirit and promoting Sino-western cultural exchanges. The inaugural issue of CAL was launched in London at the 2014 London Book Fair on April 8, 2014, and this effort has been acclaimed as an innovative move to have its first cry heard on a world stage, a voice that is meant to catch the world’s attention and call for a healthy and constructive cultural interflow between China and the west.
Mostly through high-quality translation (70% or so) of the best Chinese literature and art, CAL aims to provide a more direct access to and a better showcase for contemporary Chinese cultures. To start with, it highlights the literary creation from authors originating from Jiangsu, but it will branch out to cover all parts of China to bring the best possible works of leading Chinese authors and artists to our western audience. CAL will stick to the criteria of independence, quality, and inclusiveness in selecting the literary works and critical articles to be published. And to ensure the idiomaticness of the language and its acceptability by the English native readers or speakers, CAL, in principle, only invites contributors, sinologists and translators whose mother tongue is English or who have long resided overseas and engaged in bilingual professions. It does not mean, however, that we do not take pitches. Writings and translations of truly high quality are always welcome so long as they are related to Chinese arts and letters one way or another. CAL boasts an advisory and editorial board comprising illustrious and influential academics, experts, and translators from both home and abroad: Daniel Albright, Martin Puchner, Howard Goldbaltt, Wolfgang Kubin, Zhang Longxi, Lu Gusun and Qian Jiaoru, to name only a few. Now a biannual and based in the School of Foreign Languages and Cultures of Nanjing Normal University (NNU), CAL is set to develop into a quarterly in future years and provide a more extensive coverage of China’s modern and contemporary literature. CAL will endeavor to uphold the traditions and legacies of such precursors as The China Critic and T’ien Hsia monthly from the Republic period to make Chinese literature and art an indispensable member of the international cultural community.