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The concept of xiaoshuo was introduced as the equivalent to Western terms of “romance” and “novel”, and the role of Japan and the culture in Meiji Japan as a mediator was crucial. This translation was notably observed in English-Chinese dictionaries compiled by missionaries, particularly in the English and Chinese Dictionary: With the Punti and Mandarin Pronunciation compiled by Wilhelm Lobscheid, where xiaoshuo was rendered as “romance” and “novel”, subsequently impacting Yan Huiqing's An English and Chinese Standard Dictionary. Tsubouchi Shōyō distinguished between “romance” and “novel” in his work The Essence of Novel, while Lu Xun provided academic definitions in A Brief History of Chinese Novel. The pivotal juncture in the evolution of xiaoshuo occurred with the recognition of its characteristics as a fine art. Fumio Yano and Tsubouchi Shōyō introduced and adapted the characteristics of the novel as a fine art, and Liang Qichao elucidated the artistic mechanism of the novel. Wang Guowei delved into the aesthetic value of The Story of the Stone, while Huang Ren incorporated fine art principles into the editing of the Fiction Forest journal. Xu Nianci synthesized ideal aesthetics and emotional aesthetics, and Lü Simian turned to narratology on an aesthetic foundation. Yoshio Ota's theory of pure literature influenced Lu Xun and Zhou Zuoren, who interpreted the novel as both fine art and pure literature. The Sino-Japanese integration of the concept of xiaoshuo facilitated widespread dissemination, academic delineation, the discovery of artistic characteristics, and the transformation of the concept.


xiaoshuo, An English and Chinese Standard Dictionary, Tsubouchi Shōyō, Lu Xun, Huang Ren