Adventures of Ma Suzhen

10th January 2022

News, Student news, Alumni news, Home Feed

The first English translation of 'The Adventures of Ma Suzhen', by Wadham Lecturer Paul Bevan has been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Detail from the book cover

    Detail from the cover The Adventures of Ma Suzhen: A Heroic Woman Takes Revenge in Shanghai

  • Dr Paul Bevan

    Dr Paul Bevan

In addition to the exciting, all-action, comic novel, published in 1920s Shanghai, the book features an illuminating academic essay by Paul that contextualises the comic tale, and reveals its multiple lives as a stage play, film and novel.

The Adventures of Ma Suzhen:A Heroic Woman Takes Revenge in Shanghai was written during a highpoint in the popularity of xia “knight-errant” fiction. It is an action-packed tale of a young woman who takes revenge for her brother, Ma Yongzhen, a gangster and performing strongman, who has been murdered by a rival gang in China’s most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai. After publication of the book in 1923, the character of Ma Suzhen appeared on stage, and subsequently in a film made by the Mingxing Film Company. The book version as translated by Paul Bevan displays a delightful combination of the xia and popular “Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies” genres, with additional elements of Gong’an “court case” fiction. The translation is followed by an essay that explores the background to the legend of Ma Suzhen – a fictional figure, whose exhilarating escapades reflect some of the new possibilities and freedoms available to women following the founding of the Chinese Republic.

About Paul Bevan

Paul Bevan is Departmental Lecturer in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford and Retained Lecturer in Chinese at Wadham College.

About Paul Bevan

From 2018 to 2020 he worked as Christensen Fellow in Chinese Painting at the Ashmolean Museum. Paul has taught modern Chinese literature, history, and visual culture at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His primary research interests concern the impact of Western art and literature on China during the Republican Period (1912-1949), particularly with regard to periodicals and magazines. His research on artists George Grosz, Frans Masereel, and Miguel Covarrubias, all of whom worked for Vanity Fair, has resulted in extensive research on both Chinese and Western pictorial magazines. Paul’s first book A Modern Miscellany - Shanghai Cartoon Artists, Shao Xunmei’s Circle and the Travels of Jack Chen, 1926-1938, Leiden: Brill, 2015, was hailed as “a major contribution to modern Chinese studies”; his second: “Intoxicating Shanghai”: Modern Art and Literature in Pictorial Magazines during Shanghai’s Jazz Age was published by Brill in April 2020.