''Renditions'' was founded by Chinese American translator George Kao who was a visiting senior fellow at RCT and who contributed a number of translations to the journal himself. It was launched in 1973, at a time when Hong Kong witnessed an emerging cultural consciousness that demanded recognition for the population’s Chinese roots. Hitherto English was the only official language in Hong Kong, and it was not until 1974 that the Chinese language was finally given an official status comparable to English. Many in Hong Kong felt the need to strengthen the position of Chinese language and culture. At the same time Chinese people outside of the People’s Republic of China were concerned about the destruction of Chinese culture resulting from the Cultural Revolution . Hence in multicultural Hong Kong, a haven from the frenzy of the Chinese mainland, there developed a keen sense of mission: to preserve and record China’s traditional and modern culture on the one hand, and to broaden its reach in the English-speaking world on the other. ''Renditions'' was created in this climate.
Miscellaneous and special issues
''Renditions'' is published twice a year, in May and in November. From its inception, ''Renditions'' has always published a wide variety of works in modern and traditional literature by famous authors and introducing lesser known ones. A mixture of miscellaneous and special issues offers depth and variety, making ''Renditions'' a continuing literary anthology. Special issues include one on women's writing , by writers from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong; the first anthology of Hong Kong literature in any language , which shows that cultural life in Hong Kong is alive and well; Chinese Impressions of the West , which presents the experience and observations of those who journeyed to the West in the 19th century, as well as the impressions and opinions of those who had never been outside China; and poems, plays, stories and paintings about Wang Zhaojun , a Han court lady and celebrated beauty who married a Xiongnu Chieftan in 33 BC, revealing a broad spectrum of Chinese cultural attitudes and perceptions of women from the 3rd to the 20th century.
Editorial team and contributors
The RCT's expert staff closely supervise every stage in the selection, editorial and production processes, a unique feature of ''Renditions'' among publishers of translations of Chinese literature which makes it one of the most respected journals in its field. The world’s leading translators and sinologists are represented on its editorial and advisory boards and are among its regular contributors. ''Renditions'' materials are used in the classroom, reprinted in anthologies and selected for public readings and performances in English speaking countries.The journal also has a general readership which finds translations from the Chinese a source of pleasure and mental stimulation.
Included under the ''Renditions'' umbrella are other publications: a hard-cover and a paperback series. The hard-cover series was introduced in 1976, primarily for the library market in recognition of a core readership in the discipline of Chinese Studies in English-speaking countries. A paperback series was launched in 1986 to make high quality translations available to a wider market. This series, with an emphasis on contemporary writers, is often used as classroom material by teachers of Chinese and Asian survey courses in the West and also attracts a general readership. A special product introduced in 2002 is the ''Renditions'' Personal Digital Assistant series, sold directly on-line, featuring poetry selections and city stories especially chosen for readers interested in China or travelling to Asia. Out-of-print issues of ''Renditions'' journal and titles from the Renditions paperback series are available on CD-ROM.
An online database indexing all translations published in ''Renditions'' and the paperback and hard-cover series appears on the ''Renditions'' website. Searchable by author, translator, keyword and genre, the database is a valuable research tool as well as a guide to readers, teachers and students on translations of Chinese literature into English. Since January 2007, the database also includes Chinese characters for titles and authors of all listed works.