The authorial preface to works of fiction provides a unique space for exploration of authorial self-fashioning and author-reader mediation. This article argues that, when works of fiction are translated and new prefaces written for a new readership, these prefaces can provide extra insights into the perceptions, expectations, and constrictions of both producing and consuming literature in a global era. Recent debates on world literature have centered mainly on issues of reception and circulation, preferring to define its scope in terms of the reader and the reading context rather than by the author or production process. This study considers the changing role of authors who consciously attempt to locate themselves within this contested and reconfigured field and how they construct a persona to address a newly defined world readership. This article explores the changes throughout the twentieth century by analyzing a selection of authorial prefaces to translated editions of three influential authors: Lu Xun 魯迅 (1881–1936), Ba Jin 巴金 (1906–2005), and Yu Hua 余華 (1960–). All prolific preface writers, they each have, in different ways, in different periods, engaged with the concept of a global literary readership and marketplace and negotiated their respective places within it.

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