History: Translation or Recording of the Facts

  •  Xinhui Liu    


Is the writing of history a subjective translation of the past or a truthful recording of the facts? Some theorists suggest that historiography is a geo-political space to expand power and control while others insist that history is no more than a fiction. Through the comparison of different textual descriptions of the same Chinese historical events in the late 19th and early 20th century, the author of this article contends that although the historiographers should keep an eye towards updating the source material with newly discovered evidence, the past is a once existent reality and therefore has a compelling and distinctive form which a postmodern fiction can never replace; and although the interpretation of history cannot ideally avoid the possibility of bias shaped by individual discourses of a given culture, readers have the right to know the facts as such; otherwise, what Hegel once worried about might come true though in a different version: “the only thing we can learn from history is that no one learns anything from history.”

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